The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) is a not-for-profit international amateur sport governing body, founded in 1946. Brothers Ben and Joe Weider were the founding fathers of the IFBB in Montreal, with the former becoming the first President of the organisation.

Ben and Joe Weiden were the founding fathers of the IBFF ©IFBB
Ben and Joe Weiden were the founding fathers of the IBFF ©IFBB

Canada and the United States were the two founding countries of the IFBB, but the Weider brothers worked to promote the organisation globally. The Mr Olympia contest was among the key events established to promote the sport. The title is awarded to the winner of the professional men's bodybuilding contest, which takes place at Joe Weider's Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend.

The efforts of the Canadian brothers led to over 50 countries joining the organisation by 1970. The IFBB now have over 191 affiliated nations and since 2006 have been led by Spain’s Dr. Rafael Santonja.

Santonja is currently serving his third term as President, having been re-elected at the IFBB Congress in both 2010 and 2014. Under his leadership, the IFBB are striving to be one of the most active Federations in the world.

Ben, left, and Joe Weider, centre, founded the IFBB in 1946 and Spain's Dr. Rafael Santonja, right, is now President of the world governing body ©IFBB
Ben, left, and Joe Weider, centre, founded the IFBB in 1946 and Spain's Dr. Rafael Santonja, right, is now President of the world governing body ©IFBB

The sport has developed well known stars, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian remains the youngest ever winner of the Mr Olympia competition, having achieved the feat at the age of 23. Schwarzenegger claimed seven Mr Olympia titles during his career. Bodybuilding competition also helped launch the acting careers of Schwarzenegger and American Lou Ferrigno, who went on to achieve fame as The Incredible Hulk

Influential figures in the sport’s history have been recognised for their achievements, with the Ben Weider Legacy Cup paying tribute to one of the IFBB founders. Schwarzenegger is honoured with the Arnold Classic.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the sport's most recognised figures ©Getty Images
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the sport's most recognised figures ©Getty Images

The IFBB hold competition at their World Championships for juniors, seniors and master’s athletes in a variety of categories. This includes men’s bodybuilding and classic bodybuilding, men’s and women’s physique and fitness, and women’s body-fitness and bikini fitness.

During the IFBB's 71-year history, they have participated in several editions of the World Games, as well as various regional Games. This includes the Central American Games, the South American Games, the Arab Games, the Asian Beach Games and the Bolivarian Games.

More than 2,000 local, national, regional, continental and World Championships are organised by the IFBB each year, while over 100 million people are regularly thought to train in gyms and fitness centres across each of the continents.

Dr. Rafael Santonja has been President of the IFBB since 2006 ©Getty Images
Dr. Rafael Santonja has been President of the IFBB since 2006 ©Getty Images

The IFBB became a member of the General Association of International Sports Federations in 1969. They are also members of the International World Games Association, the Olympic Council of Asia, the Pan American Sport Organization, Association of African Sport Confederations and several other regional bodies. 

The IFBB are a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency Code and actively discourage the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

IFBB strongly believes in sport as an universal language for health and education, They also see it as a great tool to integrate people, without any kind of discrimination, in the best spirit of understanding and respect and in fairness and solidarity.