Virtuozity - - FRONT PAGE -

If you were to pick any­one as a poster­child for the cigar in­dus­try, it would be dif­fi­cult to sin­gle out a six-foot-two Aus­trian body­builder-turned-politi­cian as the prime can­di­date. Cigars are, af­ter all, hardly a pop­u­lar choice in the fit­ness in­dus­try. And yet de­spite this, Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, renowned for his charm and his dry wit, is known the world over as a pro­lific fan of sto­gies. In­deed, if he hadn’t so many strings to his bow—body­build­ing, act­ing, and later pol­i­tics—the fact that he likes cigars so much would prob­a­bly be one of his most defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Born in 1947, Sch­warzeneg­ger was brought up in a tiny town in Aus­tria. For his early years, he didn’t even have a tele­phone or ra­dio in the house. This meant there was time to kill, and so he took up ex­er­cise. He took it so se­ri­ously, in fact, that he would even lie to his wor­ried par­ents about how of­ten he was work­ing out. From there, he be­came one of the world’s best-known body­builders, win­ning Mr Uni­verse ti­tles and strik­ing it big across the world.

De­spite his hum­ble be­gin­nings, it was in this stint of ini­tial fame that Sch­warzeneg­ger be­gan to dis­cover a taste for the finer things in life – namely, cigars. He had tasted lit­tle Vir­gini­ans when he was a body­builder in Mu­nich, but he hadn’t smoked a proper sto­gie un­til he was wellset­tled in America, and had met his (nowex) wife, Maria Shriver.

The daugh­ter of Sar­gent and Eu­nice Shriver, the lat­ter of whom was a sis­ter of the Kennedy Broth­ers, Maria was from a well-to-do fam­ily. One night, af­ter din­ner at the Shriver house, Sar­gent Shriver lit a cigar, while, at the same time, of­fer­ing another to Sch­warzeneg­ger. Feel­ing obliged, Sch­warzeneg­ger took it, and from there, he never looked back.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­views with Cigar Afi­cio- nado, the Aus­trian su­per­star soon de­vel­oped a taste for Punch. How­ever, he has also been known to en­joy sticks from Hoyo de Mon­ter­rey, Co­hiba, Romeo y Julieta and David­off. By the 1990s, at the height of his movie ca­reer, how­ever, he was smok­ing all sorts of fine cigars, and was or­gan­is­ing cigar-tast­ing events around Hol­ly­wood for Tin­sel Town’s elite. He even cre­ated per­son­alised hu­mi­dors from an­tique jew­ellery boxes to give to friends as gifts.

As a body­builder-turned-ac­tor, it’s as­ton­ish­ing that Sch­warzeneg­ger was cel­e­brated for his love of cigars, rather than hounded for be­ing seen to pro­mote some­thing at odds with his body­build­ing back­ground. How­ever, Sch­warzeneg­ger has al­ways been some­thing of a like­able rogue, a charm­ing out­sider that lives by his own rules. And in in­ter­views he has al­ways main­tained that he smokes cigars for him­self, and is not try­ing to ad­vo­cate a life­style choice, one way or the other.

It’s that sort of diplo­macy that got him to state-level govern­ment of­fice in the United States. But while his body­build­ing days are now way be­hind him, Sch­warzeneg­ger is still of­ten papped puff­ing away on a sto­gie—and he looks as cool now as he did 20 years ago.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.