Bev Francis – a former bodybuilder, powerlifter, and shot put champion – is one of the first women to ever push the limits beyond the “average” ideal of a female athlete. All her accomplishments during her competitive career quickly made her an iconic figure, especially in the world of health and fitness.
Born and raised in Australia, Bev’s beginnings were in shot put, starting to seriously train for the sport in February 1974. She broke the Australian shot put record in 1977, competed on the Australian track and field team as a throwing athlete (and 100m reserve) for 5 years, winning the Australian National Shot put Championship in 1982.
Alongside her shot put success, Bev was also competing in powerlifting, holding all world records in in 85.5 kg (182 lbs) weight class in 1980. She became the first woman to officially bench press over 300 lbs in 1981 when she pressed 150 kg (330 lbs) at the World Powerlifting Championships. She also broke the world record squat for her weight class in 1982, squatting 216 kg (476 lbs). She took home gold medals for her weight class 5 years straight at at the International Powerlifting Federation Championships (1980-1985).
Though she had such success in both shot put and powerlifting, her widespread recognition took off when she entered competitive bodybuilding, debuting at the Olympia 1986. She competed 6 years, never placing lower than 3rd after her debut year, though she never took home the title of Ms. Olympia.
After the narrowest loss in Ms. Olympia history in 1991, Bev retired from competition, yet remains a legend to this day in women’s bodybuilding because of the huge impact she had on the industry. Today, Bev, alongside her Mr. Olympia champion husband, Steve Weinberger, own Powerhouse Gym in Syosset, NY – an iconic gym for up-and-coming bodybuilding talents.