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The photograph from 1973, capturing the meeting of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mits Kawashima in Hawaii, provides a glimpse into a fascinating chapter of Arnold’s life and a deep-rooted connection between two individuals brought together by the world of bodybuilding. This story not only highlights the camaraderie that existed within the bodybuilding community but also underscores the impact of such chance encounters on the lives of these two men.
The Unexpected Bond:
The story begins in 1968 when Arnold Schwarzenegger found himself stranded in Hawaii, far from his familiar bodybuilding circuit. Initially invited as a guest poser by a promoter who abruptly left, Arnold faced an unfamiliar and challenging situation. It was during this moment of crisis that Mits Kawashima, a Hawaiian gym proprietor and contest promoter, along with his gracious wife, Dot, extended their kindness and hospitality. They offered to take Arnold out to dinner, lent him their vehicle, and allowed him to train at their gym until he could make arrangements to return to California. This act of goodwill formed the foundation of their friendship.
From Friendship to Partnership:
As the years went by, the connection between Arnold and Mits deepened and evolved from a simple act of rescue to a prosperous business partnership. Over the course of approximately three decades, they joined forces to co-produce bodybuilding competitions in Hawaii. This collaboration left an indelible mark on the island’s fitness culture and history.
Mits Kawashima’s Legacy:
Mits Kawashima, who passed away in 2012 at the remarkable age of 93, left behind a significant imprint on Hawaii’s bodybuilding landscape. As a pioneer in the field, Mits inaugurated one of the state’s earliest gyms back in 1948. His contributions to the world of bodybuilding extended beyond his partnership with Arnold, encompassing collaborations with other legends of the sport, such as John Grimek, Larry Scott, and Sergio Oliva.
This story serves as a testament to the power of chance encounters and the enduring connections forged within the world of bodybuilding. It’s a reminder of the generosity and camaraderie that often define the relationships between athletes, mentors, and supporters within this close-knit community. Mits Kawashima’s legacy, enriched by his partnership with Arnold Schwarzenegger, continues to be celebrated in Hawaii’s bodybuilding history, where his pioneering spirit and contributions remain a source of inspiration for aspiring bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts alike.