We have mixed feelings about Joe. On the one hand, he was certainly in the position, along with his brother Ben, to stop the take-over of classic physique building by steroid-users in the 1960s. He was in control of his magazines and he and his brother Ben were certainly at the reigns of the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders). However, it may well have been that no one could have stopped it - this is what Joe says in his book Brothers of Iron. He might be right, but perhaps he could have done a lot more to prevent the decline of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building.
That being said, no one can deny that there probably would have been no Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (from 1940 - 1959) without Joe's magazines (Your Physique, Muscle Power, Muscle Builder), training equipment, muscle-building courses, supplements, contests, and tireless and relentless promotion of bodybuilding! So what can we say? How can we not like Joe! He is rightfully recognized as the "Father of Classic Physique Building."
Joe certainly practiced what he preached. Though he never won a major title (although he did place 5th in the tall class of the 1951 Mr. Universe contest after being "forced" to enter the contest by his friend Reg Park), he certainly did build an impressive physique! He appeared several times on the cover of his first magazine - Your Physique. The above photo on the left shows Joe on the cover of The October 1944 issue. It looks like he was about 170 lbs at that time. He was certainly no Steve Reeves, but you see a developing classic physique!. The above photo on the right shows Joe sometime between 1947 - 1952. He oftern used this photo in his byline for his magazine articles. It looks like he packed on more muscle mass and his body weight is up around 200 lbs. His measurements, as reported by Sig Klein in Muscle Builder magazine in 1955 were: chest - 51 in., neck - 17.5, waist - 34.5, upper arm - 17.3, thigh - 25.2, calf - 16.8, height 5'11". These are definitely classic proportions! Not bad for a magazine publisher!