Pumping Iron is a 1977 American docudrama about the world of professional bodybuilding, with a focus on the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and 1975 Mr. Olympia competitions. Directed by George Butler and Robert Fiore and edited by Geof Bartz and Larry Silk, it is inspired by a book of the same name by Butler and Charles Gaines, and nominally centers on the competition between Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his primary competitors for the title of Mr. Olympia, Lou Ferrigno. The film also features segments on bodybuilders Franco Columbu and Mike Katz, in addition to appearances by Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Serge Nubret, and other famous bodybuilders of the era.


In 1975, bodybuilders are preparing for the upcoming Mr. Universe amateur competition and Mr. Olympia professional competition in Pretoria, South Africa. The first part of the film documents the life of Mike Katz, a hopeful for the title of Mr. Universe. Katz was bullied in his youth for being Jewish and wearing glasses, which spurred him to become a pro football player; when his career with the New York Jets was ended by a leg injury, he became a bodybuilder. His psychological balance is thrown off by a prank by fellow contender Ken Waller, who steals Katz's lucky shirt before the competition. Waller wins Mr. Universe and Katz comes in fourth. Fighting back tears, Katz cheerfully appraises the situation before calling home to check on his wife and children. He then congratulates Waller.