While social media is great for telling us who broke a world record or who failed a snatch and broke their gym’s doors, the constant influx of the latest trends can make us forget how we got here in the first place.
Sure, it’s cool that some 6 year old kid on Instagram or Facebook deadlifted twice their bodyweight, but what about the men, women, and events that paved the way to make it possible for that kid to touch a barbell in 2016?
Today we are going back in time to present you the women that opened new horizons in women’s strength.
Abbye ‘Pudgy’ Stockton
Pudgy is considered to be the pioneer in the world of women weightlifting.
She was born on August 11in 1917 in Santa Monica, California and was a professional strongwoman and forerunner of present day female bodybuilders.
Abbye and her husband Les were frequent visitors to Muscle Beach, where they primarily worked on a hand balancing act and gymnastics. One of their most famous feats involved Abbye serving as the “under-stander”, supporting Les, who weighed 180 pounds, over her head in a hand to hand stand.
By the end of 1940s she was featured on the cover of forty two magazines. She posed with many of the top male bodybuilders during that time, including John Grimek and Steve Reeves.
Abbye organized the first sanctioned weightlifting meets for women that included 100 pounds (about 45 kg) press, 105 pounds (about 47kg) snatch, and a 135 pounds (about 61kg) clean and jerk in 1947.
After the World War II she opened a gym for women and began writing the column “Barbells” for Strength and Health Magazine – the world’s most influential fitness magazine at the time. At that time people used to say that if women worked out, they would become masculine looking or wouldn’t be able to get pregnant.
Abbye and her husband would have just laughed because they knew people saying that were wrong.
Bev Francis was born in 1955 in Geelong, Australia. After obtaining a degree in physical education she became a member of the Australian track and field team. She competed in shot put, discus and javelin. She won the Australian shot put championships in 1982.
She later went into the sport of powerlifting where she was named a World Champion from 1980 – 1985. She set the world record when she bench pressed 330 pounds (about 150 kg) and becoming the first woman that bench pressed over 300 pounds. She has broken over 40 world powerlifting records in her weight class and is undefeated in her career as a competitor.
Her best lifts are: 226 kg – squat; Bench press – 152 kg; Deadlift – 227 kg
Chen Wei Ling
She was born on 4th January in 1982 in Taiwan. Chen is an Olympic weightlifter and powerlifter.
She can deadlift and squat over four times her body weight! She won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a year later she set new squat and deadlift records competing in the World Games.
In a competition in Australia she performed the 3rd heaviest squat of all time lifting 4.2 times her own weight (at 47 kg) with 197.5 kg. At the same competition, she managed to lift an incredible 185 kg (about 4 times her own weight) which was the greatest lift of all time. Including the bench press of 75 kg she got the all time world record lifting a total of 457.5 kg which is a total of 10 times of her own weight.
Iris Kyle is a professional female bodybuilding champion. She was born on 22nd August in 1974 in America.
She is the most successful, female of male, professional bodybuilder ever, with ten overall Ms. Olympia wins and two heavyweight wins, along with seven Ms. International wins. She is ranked as the best female bodybuilder in the IFBB Pro Women’s Bodybuilding Ranking List.
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