Rise Above Your Background- Part 2
Arnold Schwarzenegger: From An Immigrant To Becoming A Governor In The United States.
The life and unique rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger testifies to the truth that the fate of every man resides solely in his faith in God and himself. Every man can rise above their background, no matter how obscure a man is, a great future still awaits everybody. We must be able to picture ourselves in the future in order to feature in it!
The amazing, remarkable and inspirational story of American Hollywood megastar, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a true “rags to riches” tale of a penniless immigrant making it in the land of opportunity, the United States of America. A man that rose beyond a very poor background and neighbourhood, Schwarzenegger recalled that one of the highlights of his youth was when the family bought a refrigerator. The family was literally so poor that they had to celebrate the purchase of a refrigerator. He once said, “I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire”.
He went through series of rejections and frustrations but was undaunted. At a time, he was rejected for the lead role in The Incredible Hulk because of his height. Arnold enumerated his ordeals in rising to stardom in one of his emotion-laden interviews when he said, “It was very difficult for me in the beginning – I was told by agents and casting people that my body was ‘too weird’, that I had a funny accent, and that my name was too long. You name it, and they told me I had to change it. Basically, everywhere I turned, I was told that I had no chance.”
Schwarzenegger’s American story sounded improbable, except to those who knew him. “This is a man of bottomless ambition, he sees himself as mystically sent to America,” said George Butler, producer and director of Pumping Iron, in a 2003 interview. His fame knows no bounds as The Guinness Book of World Records called Schwarzenegger “the most perfectly developed man in the history of the world;” he is considered among the most important figures in the history of bodybuilding. With an almost unpronounceable surname and a thick Austrian accent, who would have ever believed that a brash, quick-talking bodybuilder from a small European village would become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, marry into the prestigious Kennedy family, amass a fortune via shrewd investments and one day be the Governor of California?!!
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947 near Graz, ThaI, Austria. He rose to fame as the world’s top body builder, launching a career that would make him a giant Hollywood star and later, the governor of California. His father, Gustav was an alcoholic police chief and one-time member of the Nazi party, who clearly favoured Arnold’s brother over his seemingly less athletic younger son. Gustav is reported to have beaten and intimidated Arnold and, when he could, pitted his two young boys against one another. He also ridiculed Schwarzenegger’s early dreams of becoming a body builder.
Regardless of his father’s intimidation, the young Arnold held tenaciously to his dream and would not allow his father mould him into what he was not. On several occasions, he vehemently refused to tread the path that his father had laid for him. He had strong passion for the sport of body building, weight lifting and acting. He vehemently refused to be manipulated by his parents and became a fugitive for his passion, an intense passion that later brought him to limelight. As an escape from all ridicules at home, Arnold turned to live his passion: body building and the movies. Arnold turned to the movies, in particular Reg Park, a body-builder and star in Hercules movies was a great source of inspiration to the young Arnold and later became his mentor and hero. The films also helped propel Schwarzenegger’s own obsession with America, and the future he felt awaited him there.
Schwarzenegger, who had immigrated to the United States in 1968, helped propel the sport into the mainstream, culminating in the 1977 documentary, Pumping Iron, which tells the tale of Schwarzenegger’s defence of his Mr. Olympia crown. In all, Schwarzenegger would win an unprecedented five Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia crowns during his body-building career. He used this platform to launch himself into Hollywood.
Arnold had dreamed of making it big in Hollywood, with his great physical strength and sense of humour, he catapulted himself into the top echelon of the acting world and has become the highest-paid action film star in Hollywood, with several films to his credit- Conan the Destroyer, Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, Commando, Predator, The Last Stand, True Lies, Running Man, Red Heat, Total Recall and many more. The defining moment in his acting career was the release of the science fiction thriller, The Terminator in 1984. Though made on a relatively modest budget, the high voltage action / science fiction thriller was incredibly successful worldwide, and began one of the most profitable film franchises in history.
The dead-pan phrase “I’ll be back” quickly became part of popular culture across the globe and his teeming fans were always looking forward to his next return. After years of blockbuster movie roles, Schwarzenegger went into politics, becoming the 38th governor of California (2003 – 2011). Arnold was the first foreign-born governor of California since Irish-born governor John G.Downey in 1862. Arnold ran as a republican in 2003 in the California recall election that ousted the incumbent Democratic Governor, Gray Davis. He was re-elected in a landslide victory in the 2006 elections. Because of his personal wealth from his acting career, Schwarzenegger did not accept his governor’s salary of $175,000 per year throughout his tenure!
In 2012, he returned to his acting career, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone in the star–studded film, The Expendables. Within just one week, the movie had climbed to the No. 1 spot at the box office bringing in nearly $28.6million. He was also in action in The Expendable 3(2014) and Terminator Genisys (2015). His foray into politics has made him an active and respected member of the Republican Party with the hope of becoming a possible future Republican presidential candidate of the United States of America.
While Schwarzenegger is not eligible to run for the presidency by present laws (as a naturalized citizen, not a native-born citizen as required by the Constitution), some members of Congress are currently considering an amendment to the Constitution to allow foreign-born US citizens to be allowed to run for the Presidency, specifically with Schwarzenegger in mind, although other members of Congress are strongly opposed to the idea. Time will surely tell of the extent to which he can attain in the politics of the United States.
In one of his famous speeches in 2001, Schwarzenegger reached out to parents on the reason why they must never manipulate their children to live a life that they were never designed to live. He said: “My own plan formed when I was 14 years old, my father had wanted me to be a police officer like he was, and my mother wanted me to go to trade school. My hair was pulled. I was hit with belts. So was the kid next door. It was just the way it was. Many of the children I’ve seen were broken by their parents, which was the German-Austrian mentality. They didn’t want to create an individual. It was all about conforming. I was one who did not conform, and whose will could not be broken. Therefore, I became a rebel. Every time I got hit, and every time someone said, ‘you can’t do this,’ I said, ‘this is not going to be for much longer, because I’m going to move out of here. I want to be somebody.”
Finally, to the youths, you are an unrepeatable miracle! You are unique and valuable. Don’t ever allow your conditions to determine your destination. Accept no one’s definition of your life, define yourself; don’t allow someone’s opinion of you to become your reality. Life will never give you what you deserve; life will give you what you demand. No matter where you are from, no matter what you are passing through, no matter your limitation, you can rise beyond your background. You are made of the stuffs of legends.