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In the late nineteenth century, bodybuilding was seen as a new way of shaping a manly, muscular, and beautiful body. Eugen Sandow, sometimes hailed as the "father of modern bodybuilding," emerged as a global icon. Historians have usually understood his travels around the world as the origin of bodybuilding's global career. This article argues, by contrast, that the cross-border trajectory of the ideal and practice of the muscular male body was not the simple result of the diffusion of Western norms, but rather the effect of a global conjuncture. At the turn of the twentieth century, the uneven process of global integration generated debates at the interplay of masculinity, strength, beauty, health, and nationalism and helped establish a new body regime that was employed as a response to the challenges of the modern world in many places.