Bodybuilding was essentially a male-dominated sport for pretty long. But once women started turning their attention to the art, they mastered its demands pretty fast, as they have been doing in pretty much all professions.
The first female star in the bodybuilding firmament was Lisa Lyon, who was born in California, in the USA, in 1953. Her alma mater was UCLA and she was quite interested in the Japanese martial art of Kendo.
Though she was very much interested in bodybuilding, one of the main reasons for her participation in women’s bodybuilding competition was the active encouragement she received from the bodybuilding champion Arnold Schwarzenegger. His judgment turned out to be accurate when she managed to bag the first prize in the women’s bodybuilding competition.
Another prominent star in the bodybuilding world is Rachel McLish, the first Ms. Olympia titleholder in the international bodybuilding competition held by IFBB or the International Federation of Bodybuilders. The Texas-born woman rose to become an icon of feminine body perfection and was inducted in 1999 into the IFBB Hall of Fame.
Another name in women’s bodybuilding world is that of Australian Bev Francis, who started her athletic activity as a shot putter. She and Ms. McLish together acted in the documentary movie about women’s bodybuilding, named Pumping Iron II: The Women. She was considered over-muscular by the generally accepted standards of femininity and her entry into the sport gave rise to a lot of controversy about the standards to be applied to female bodybuilding athletes.
Bev Francis, though she caused a lot of stir in the bodybuilding world, did not win the Ms. Olympia title, and was placed second to Ms. Lenda Murray who bagged the title in 1991. Ms. Murray continued her winning spree for eight more times. Her popularity had peaked by 2003, the year in which she won the title for the last time.
Other well-known names in the field of women’s bodybuilding are Juliette Bergman and Mandy Blank. The former won the title in the Ms. Olympia competition of 2001 and the latter was a fitness professional competitor of IFBB. Ms. Blank’s body was not highly muscular and she followed a style that aligns with the more commonly accepted standards of female aesthetics.
There is also Monica Brant, a professional fitness competitor who was Ms. Jan Tana Pro Fitness Champion as well as Ms. Fitness Olympia Champion of 1998. And Sharon Leigh Bruneau is a Canadian model turned bodybuilder who became famous in the field and is currently pursuing an acting carrier.