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Stacey Bentley finished in fifth place, in what turned out to be her final competition. Also in , the American Federation of Women Bodybuilders was also founded, representing a growing awareness of women bodybuilders in America. Winning competitors such as Laurie Stark Ms. Southern States, helped to popularize the federation.
Rachel McLish became the most successful competitor of the early s. She lost her Ms. Olympia crown by finishing second to Kike Elomaa in , but regained the title in A new major pro contest, the Women's Pro World Championship, was held for the first time in won by Lynn Conkwright.
Held annually through , this was the second most prestigious contest of the time. McLish added this title to her collection in George Snyder lost the rights to the Ms. Olympia in , and after this the contestants were no longer hand-picked, but instead qualified for the Ms. Olympia through placings in lesser contests. As the sport grew, the competitors' level of training gradually increased as did the use of anabolic steroids most of the competitors in the earliest shows had very little weight training experience or steroid usage , and the sport slowly evolved towards more muscular physiques.
This trend started to emerge in Dunlap possessed a more muscular physique than either McLish or Elomaa, and though she never repeated her successes of , she would remain competitive for the rest of the decade.
In , a new force emerged in women's bodybuilding. At 5'9" and pounds, Everson's physique set a new standard. She would go on to win six consecutive Ms. Olympia titles from to before retiring undefeated as a professional, the only female bodybuilder ever to accomplish this.
During this period, women's bodybuilding was starting to achieve some serious mainstream exposure. In , a movie called Pumping Iron II: The Women was released. This film documented the preparation of several women for the Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. At the time, Francis was actually a powerlifter , though she soon made a successful transition to bodybuilding, becoming one of the leading competitors of the late s and early s. The main theme of the movie pitted the sultry and curvaceous Rachel McLish, the current champion; against the super-muscular Bev Francis.
This "rivalry" brought to light the true dilemma of Women's Bodybuilding and exposed the root of all the controversy aesthetics vs size which was the focal point at that time and which still continues today. For several years in the mids, NBC broadcast coverage of the Ms. Olympia contest on their Sportsworld program.
The taped footage was telecast months after the contest, and was usually used as secondary material to fill out programs featuring events such as boxing. Typically, the broadcasts included only the top several women. The popularity was growing and women were being empowered and inspired to train. International contest was introduced in , first won by Erika Geisen. In the Amateur Athletic Union AAU , who were sanctioning amateur bodybuilding at the time, positioned the International as a premiere amateur event.
It was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Europe from France to be the featured guest poser. Since , the competition has been sanctioned by the IFBB. Since the demise of the Pro World Championship after , the Ms.
International has been second in prestige only to the Ms. International was noteworthy for the fact that the original winner, Tonya Knight , was later disqualified for using a surrogate for her drug test at the Ms.
Consequently, runner-up Jackie Paisley received the title. Knight was suspended from IFBB competition through the end of , and was forced to return her prize money from the Ms. Olympia and Ms. Normally, competitors must qualify for the Ms. Olympia by achieving certain placings in lesser pro contests. However, the cancellation of the Women's Pro World contest in left only the Ms.
International as a Ms. Olympia to all women with pro cards, and a field of thirty competitors entered. Lenda Murray , a new pro from Michigan, earned a decisive victory and emerged as the successor to Cory Everson.
Murray became the next dominant figure in the sport. A new professional contest, the Jan Tana Classic , was introduced in The contest was named for its promoter, a marketer of tanning products, and ran annually until with the departure of Wayne Demilia it was later briefly revived in The inaugural event was won by Sue Gafner.
The Jan Tana filled the void left by the Women's Pro World contest, and occupied the number three slot on the pro circuit throughout its lifetime. Olympia contest was the first to be televised live. Lenda Murray faced a serious challenge from the runner-up, Bev Francis. Francis had started bodybuilding in the mids, converting over from powerlifting. Over the years, she had gradually refined her physique to be more in line with judging standards.
However, she came to the contest noticeably larger than in previous years. Francis was leading going into the night show, with Murray needing all of the first place votes to retain her title.
Murray managed to do just that, winning a somewhat controversial decision by one point. In , there was more controversy, this time at the Ms. In response to the increased size displayed by Murray and Francis at the previous Ms. Olympia, along with increasing drug abuse and androgenic side effects, the IFBB made an attempt to "feminize" the sport. The IFBB, led by Ben Weider , had created a series of "femininity" rules; one line in the judging rules said that competitors should not be "too big.
The contest winner was Germany's Anja Schreiner , a blue-eyed blonde with a symmetrical physique who weighed pounds at 5'7". The announcement of her victory met with so much booing from those who prefer size over aesthetics that Arnold Schwarzenegger had to step on stage to address the audience, saying "the hell with the judges". Many observers felt that the IFBB had instructed the judges to select the most marketable aesthetic physique, not the most muscular.
International is also famous for an incident involving British competitor Paula Bircumshaw. Bircumshaw was the same height as Schreiner and possessed a similar level of symmetry and definition, but carried significantly more muscle, weighing in at pounds. She was the clear audience favorite, but was relegated to eighth place.
Normally, the top ten contestants are called out at the end of the show when the winners are announced, but the judges only called back the top six, hoping to keep Bircumshaw back stage. This resulted in an uproar from the crowd. With the audience chanting her name, Bircumshaw returned to the stage along with the top six competitors.
Olympia featured Schreiner prominently, relegating two-time defending champion Murray to a small "also competing" notice. Nevertheless, Murray also apparently met the "femininity" requirements, and managed to retain her title; Schreiner finished sixth, and promptly retired from competition. Following the debacles, the judging rules were rewritten.
The new rules retained provisions for aesthetics, but allowed the contests to be judged as physique contests. Lenda Murray continued to dominate the sport from to , matching Cory Everson's record of six consecutive Ms.
Murray's closest rival was probably Laura Creavalle , who won the Ms. International title three times, and twice was runner-up to Murray at the Olympia. During this time, some additional professional shows were held, in addition to the three mainstays. In , the Grand Prix in Slovakia was added. Besides providing the competitors with extra opportunities to win prize money, these contests also served as additional Ms.
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