Rin Nakai

Rin Nakai is a Japanese  mixed martial artist. She was born in 1986 and started her fighting career in 2006. Nakai worked her way up in competition and by 2014 became ranked tenth ranked bantamweight champion by 2014. Rin Nakai then fought longtime martial artist and wrestler Kanako Murata. Another notable challenger she fought was Meisha Tate. This ended in defeat, but Tate has known to be a formidable opponent. Nakai’s stats include 19 wins and only two lost matches so far in her career. There was only one match in which ended in a draw. Her KO stat is 6-0 and her submission stands at 7-0. Nakai competes in the flyweight class. Formally she competed in a higher weight class . Rin Nakai  at first was competing at 145 lbs and stands at 5ft 1in tall. Now a flyweight she competes at 125 lbs. She has competed for UFC, but decided to compete for Pancrase Venus. Rin Nakai may compete in the US again, but that remains uncertain. There was a level of excitement  to see this new face come to the UFC. However, it did not seem to last. It is clear that Nakai will be around for sometime in the world of MMA.

         The MMA craze has spread in North America, yet in Japan it struggles. Rin Nakai revealed in an interview that this is attributed to a struggling economy and the damage done by the 2011 Tsunami that resulted in the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Pancrase the number one MMA organization in Japan still continues to function. The situation differs for male and female fighters. Nakai stated “women’s MMA is getting worse in Japan because the number of females joining the sport is steadily decreasing.” Rin Nakai believes it has to do with gyms and management of such facilities.

Rin claims that in training gyms guys are too aggressive with women during practice. This may be off putting to a woman who is attempting to start a fighting career. Learning something new can be a challenge. Nakai articulated that their is an atmosphere of sexism present in which men do not take female fighters seriously. As Nakai revealed “female fighters are not even seen as fighters, but sex objects.” Rin has also spoken about the general lack of disrespect for female fighters. Sadly, it seems widespread when Nakai discussed it : ” in my personal experience, sometimes guys don’t even show respect for me even when I have won two championship belts.” These types of attitudes are not uncommon in the sports world. Yet, they do mirror a problem with Japanese society. It is very conservative to an extent and gender roles are no exception. From female only subway cars  to issues surrounding employment Japan has to work hard to fight sexism in society. This is the reason Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a policy of womenomics. This policy is designed to have Japanese women stay in the workforce and be active in the business community. This program needs female role models to work. Nakai has in a sense become a role model and is doing womenomics her own way.

Rin has still thinks there can be change : ” I can hold hope that the guys in MMA will learn to have a ladies first attitude and a gentlemen’s spirit.” The reality is that chivalry is not going to be part of the culture.  Women like the opponents they fight, will have to confront the detractors and the negative attitudes. The only way change will come is by being proactive. That is why it is critical that more women become active in the sport and serve as guides to neophytes . Nakai can be a trainer to other women once she retires from fighting. This can lead to a new generation of female fighters.

        Seeing Nakai’s records of wins it is obvious she has a great method of training. The strange part of this is that she does not have a specific training partner. Anyone she can find to spar with is helpful to her training. Normally she trains at Shooto Dojo Shikoku. Rin Nakai trains seven hours a day. During this period she does four workouts. She runs, lifts weights, wrestling, judo, boxing, kickboxing, jui-jistu, circuit, and cross training. This method of various forms of exercise seems to have paid off when she competes in the ring.

Not all athletes can say that they have only two losses in their career thus so far. It is not about solely winning matches; its about entertainment. Nakai’s matches are always entertaining. It was rumored that Pancrase was developing a possible video game that would feature the likeness of some of its fighters. Nakai admits she has never played a video game, however if she were a playable character she would try it. Nakai most likely will stay with the Pancrase promotion, because of the treatment of its athletes. Athletes are free to voice opinions or discuss concerns. Nakai has said that she never faced any discrimination from the organization based on her sex. The harsh aspect of MMA organizations is that they do not always treat their athletes fairly in terms of pay and stipulations on contracts. This might explain why Rin Nakai left the UFC  due to irreconcilable conflicts. That is the UFC’s loss. Only 31 years old she still has a number of years on the competitive circuit. Some fans want to see a Nakai and Tate rematch, but this may never happen. Rin Nakai will have many more opponents to face and beat.

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Rin Nakai

Mina Mitsuoka

Mina Mitsuoka was a former bodybuilder active in the early 2000 to mid-2000s. There are some athletes who appear just as quickly as they leave. Although her competitive career was short, she built an impressive physique. Born in Torrance, California in 1985 she was not a stranger to sport. During elementary school she was involved in gymnastics and played volleyball in high school. She was also a skilled pole vaulter. Mina was a very active student involved in various clubs and extracurricular activities. She even loved taking voice lessons. An unfortunate turn of events actually lead her to bodybuilding. When she had a skate boarding accident, it resulted in her ankle being sprained and the tearing of the ligaments. She went to the gym to help with recovery. Mina then noticed that she was developing significant muscle. To her shock she said “one day I looked in the mirror flexed my bicep  and saw changes.” Mina said that although athletic most of her life she had been thin. She revealed that “she never thought her body could change like that.” When she was a student at the University of California that was when she got serious about her bodybuilding endeavors.

When Mina was in Los Angeles, she went to her classes and work  out as a student. She also served as a personal trainer at the UCLA recreation department. When she returned home, she was encouraged to compete by trainers at her local gym. Her first show was the Northern Gold’s Classic in 2004. Starting at 120 lbs she placed third in the teen division. When she graduated from her university in 2007 she gained  up to 155 lbs of muscle. This was an incredible jump from 2003, only being 117 lbs before serious training. Her role models in terms of physique were Britt Miller and Cindy Phillips. Her physique almost had that type of quality to it. Mina has stated “that training can be fun, but cardio can be fun, diet is the hardest part.” To build such a body Mina had to eat oatmeal, chicken, and whey protein six times a day, while training five times a day. Mina would only train one body part per day. What she loved about the sport is that “it is a healthy hobby that takes a lot of discipline and dedication. ” From 2004 to 2010 she would appear in some contests sporadically. She was a dedicated athlete, but never become one of the major stars. Female bodybuilding fans still remember her as one of the new generation of fresh faces. Besides looking strong is actually had impressive lifts.

Her best bench press is 165 lbs. Her bicep curls were 40 lbs and bent over rows at 225 lbs . She could do dumbell rows with 120 lbs. Mina described her back as her best feature on her physique. Mina Mitsuoka revealed that during her competitive years her friends and family would pressure her to be thin to fit a more conventional ideal of beauty. Although there was limited support for her pursuit, it did not bother her to be different. Society has to understand that there are many forms of beauty. Mina loves  being different and unique.That explains why she loves surfing and skateboarding. These activities are still mostly male dominated, however women like Mina are getting involved. The year 2007 saw Mina compete in the Northern Classic. She also decided to pursue a career in ophthalmology. The year 2010 she competed in the INBA Team Nevada Contest in the figure division.

Mina also appeared in videos for Sports-women project.com. There she demonstrated her wrestling skills and strength. After graduating medical school, she went into a practice. Mina has iterated “that she will always love bodybuilding.” Although it seems she has retired from sports, Mina now is an Ophthalmologist working at Bel-Red Vision.  Her academic credentials are also as impressive as her athletic feats. As an undergraduate she majored in biology and then got her doctorate in ophthalmology  Pacific University College of ophthalmology.

Mina mistokua
Some of Mina’s art : Mina’s Art  

After getting married and starting her professional career in ophthalmology , she now goes by the name Mina Fordcye . Mina spends time between patients and new hobbies. Mina’s new passion includes drawing and painting. Being a lover of pets her painting subjects include dogs.  Dr. Fordcye  is a member of American Optometric Association  and the Optometric Physicians of Washington. Her internships involved her working in the San Diego Naval Hospital and Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute.  Currently based in Bellevue, Mina provides medical service to the community.  Now being part the medical field, she helps people maintain healthy eyes. Fans will miss her very much on stage.One does not need an ophthalmology degree to see she was a marvel on the bodybuilding stage.

Mina Mitsuoka

The Camelita Jeter Story

Carmelita Jeter  is an three time Olympic gold medalist, who holds records in sprinting. She was born in 1979 a resident of California. Her talent was revealed early in her life. Prior to excelling in sprinting events, she was a skilled basketball player. During high school she began to be a track athlete. From there, her skills and talents only grew. Jeter is a graduate of California State University earning her degree in physical education. She remains the school’s most decorated track and field athlete to date. Her professional debut was in 2007 in the World Championships. This competition brought her a great victory in which she won her first medal in the 100m. That same year she won a silver medal in the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships. The year 2008 was a turning point in which she changed her coach and running technique. Jeter stands at 5-4 and a weight of 135 lbs. Her athletic credentials are immense and impressive. Her runs times include 10.64 (100m), 22.20 ( 200m), 10.92 ( 2008 London Grand Pix), and 10.83  (2009 World Championships). Faster than the Flash or Sonic the Hedgehog, she has become the ultimate sprinter. Besides her athletic endeavors she also is involved in philanthropy. She continues to be involved in fund raising for breast cancer research. She was in 2014 the official ambassador for Susan G. koleman ‘s California Circle of Promise Initiative. This program was designed to raise awareness about breast cancer in the African American community. Track and field fans however are more familiar with athletic feats.

      The 2012 Olympics was an event in which Jeter amused audiences. She was the pillar of the 4X100 relay. Carmelita Jeter became the first athlete to win medals in both the 200m and 100m race  at the Olympic Games. These spectacular feats come as no surprise. During the mid-2000s she had been gradually improving. Jeter has successes in the World Championships of 2009 with a record time 10.67. That made her the third fastest woman in history. The 2010 saw Jeter win two gold medals and silver in the World Championships. At this point was clear that her performance could only increase.

That was what made her performance so special. Jamaica produces great runners, but their dominance has been threatened by US talent. Her performance earned her a Jesse Owens Award one of the most prestigious track and field accolades. Jeter has revealed many thoughts and feelings about her career, sports, and live through various interviews. Her views on the student athlete are different from the common perspective. She once said “enjoy college and high school because you don’t get those years back.” Jeter delineates further ” you have plenty of time to become professional.” Too often the student athlete is regimented so they miss out on the simple joys of youth. Carmelita Jeter felt she made a sacrifice at the expense of the care free times of being a young adult. She also emphasized that education is the main goal of being at a university, even if  you are an athlete. If an athletic career does not work out she explained, you need to have a back up plan. Jeter believes that it is best to balance your life, athletic activity, and school work. Jeter revealed that getting to the 2012 Olympics was not a simple task. She admitted “that nobody thought I could make it at my age.” This was around the time she lost her beloved aunt Brenda Washington to breast cancer. This caused her much distress. She was able in her own words turn negative events into positives.

Normally, athletes have a person that inspired them in their career. Jeter said it was her aunt who was her inspiration. Her aunt was not an athlete, but a person that was close and encouraging in her life. The women in her family were her role models. Jeter described her aunt as ” whitley of the family ” ( from the TV show A Different World ). Carmelita Jeter revealed that “the women I look up to are every day women.” However, she does have favorite athletes she likes to see compete. She is a fan of Serena Williams, and Candace Parker. Being a former basketball player she love watching the WNBA. Jeter has much respect for Becky Hammon assistant coach of the Spurs. She is not just an athlete, but also a sports fan. This should be no shock. Carmelita Jeter recalling her childhood stated ” I grew up in a sports household.” She would play basketball with her dad and brother on the weekends. Her beginnings were humble as she revealed ” I didn’t come from a family with a whole lot of money so if we knew we weren’t going to be super smart in the class room we had to be athletic and get scholarships.” Track and field gave Jeter more of a competitive drive and a desire to push herself further. At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow she was able to compete with a torn quadricep. She won a bronze medal in that 100m race.

          Carmelita Jeter during her athletic career followed a particular training and diet regimen to enhance performance. When preparing for competition her diet consists of vegetables and some baked goods. Eating three meals a day with two snacks in between, rest was also important. Jeter claimed that her focus was intense starting her day early and being in bed by 9:00 pm.

London Olympics Athletics WomenJeter said staying hydrated is also critical to her training. Also Carmelita Jeter incorporates weight training into her fitness program. Her schedule goes as follows : in the weight room from 6:30 to 7:45, trains in UCLA, and has cryotherapy. Jeter does this to have her muscles relax from exercise and completes this six hour a day training by 12:30. Jeter also likes doing pilates saying ” that’s why my abs look the way they do.” This training regime produced an impressively powerful body. As she said “when I hopped on the scene I was very fast and very muscular.” She also believed in her own assessment “that it turned people off.” She did not let dated and old fashioned beliefs deter her. To Jeter there is nothing wrong with women being strong. The track and field athlete has embraced the movement of physically strong women saying “I love that women want to strong not just mentally, but physically.” Carmelita Jeter  also clarifies ” it is definitely  inspiring to see the movement to be strong is relating to women and is trickling down to young girls.” Her philosophy is “that is okay to be muscular and it is okay to be buff.” She has started from humble roots to Olympic champion. She certainly will inspire many young women athletes.

        Currently Jeter was set to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, injury pulled her out of the trials. It was clear that if she was not sustain the injury to her quadricep, she would have been excellent. Carmelita Jeter at age 37 is still in great shape. Normally athletes reach there physical fitness peak around this time frame. Jeter has made no indications about whether she will continue to compete or attempt to appear in the 2020 Olympics. The year 2017 she did not run at all instead focusing on mentoring young athletes. It seems that quadriceps issues continue to be a hindrance to her competitive streak. It is too soon to say that she is retiring or done with the sport. If 2016 was the last year fans see her actively compete, she went out with an impressive accomplishments.

The Camelita Jeter Story

Michelle Jin

Michelle Jin is a physique competitor and bodybuilder from China. She was born in  Wenzhou a small village in 1974. This was the period of Maoist China and she was raised in a conservative family. Although the Communist Party of China adopted a policy of promoting women’s rights, much of the population was slow to change their attitudes in regards to women. Her family thought that a woman being an athlete was not the proper career course to take. Michelle Jin came to the United States in 1996 and this was when she first got exposure to gym culture. Introduced to it by a friend, she enjoyed weightlifting. Training hard through the years she decided to compete. By 2014 Michelle had won the NPC Junior USA Championship, which got her notoriety in Muscular Development magazine. He local hometown newspaper even congratulated and interviewed her. The Wenzhou Evening News  asked about her training regimen and her plans for the future. Michelle stated that she wanted to continue competing and gain a fitness training certificate. For her 2014 victory she revealed she trained four months prior to the contest, which also included two hours of running. Her diet consisted of chicken breasts, fish, and vegetables to reduce body fat. Jin’s efforts paid off and she became another competitor in the IFBB. Since 2006 she has been competing on stage and will not be stopping anytime soon.

 For tens years she has been with the bodybuilding sport. Her rankings have not been high as a professional bodybuilder, but she as presented a powerful and balanced physique. She has competed in the Optimum Classic Pro (2015), the Junior National Championships (2011), and the Omaha pro (2016). Beginning her career as a lightweight bodybuilder, physique is still new. Creating the physique that the judges want can be a difficult task. Besides being an athlete Michelle Jin enjoys biking and hiking in her free time.  At first Michelle Jin had some doubts about her bodybuilding pursuits. She was fearful that a woman with muscle could not look beautiful. Once she got over this irrational fear, she was able to compete and make considerable improvements. Michelle likes competing in the physique division rather than bodybuilding. She has siad in interviews that it gives her a better chance of going up in competitor  rankings. She stands in competition 120 lbs in weight and is 5′ 2” in height. When not on her strict diet she enjoys hamburgers and donuts. Three years now she has been an IFBB pro and it looks like there are many more contests for her to conquer.

Michelle 2017
Michelle’s Twitter

  Michelle Jin is also active on social media including Twitter and Facebook. She also has her own Youtube page in which fans can ask questions and engage. She continues to keep busy between competing and work. Now living in South Carolina, she is an excellent representative to Chinese athletes and specifically Chinese women athletes. Maybe her actions will inspire young women seeking to do the same.

Michelle Jin

Florence Griffith Joyner: Icon, Athlete, and The Fastest Woman in the World

Florence Griffith Joyner was a track and field  athlete who is still one of the fastest women to run. Elaine Thompson currently is the only athlete that has come close to her record. She was an icon and inspiration to many fans and athletes alike. Delorez Florence Griffith was born in 1959 in Watts area of Los Angeles. Although living in poverty she recalled her childhood years as joyous. Joyner stated “we did not know how poor we were; we were rich in family. ” She had eleven siblings all raised by her mother, who worked as a seamstress. That early support system was critical to her rise as an athlete.  Florence Griffith Joyner would become a popular figure of the 1980s due to spectacular athletic  performances and fashion style. Her popularity went beyond athletics when she got endorsements, did acting, and clothing design. Joyner became a part of American popular culture. This was important for women’s sports. Women who participated in athletics were never accepted as role models at this stage in history.Florence Griffith Joyner contributed to the positive shift in acceptance of the female athlete in the mainstream.

     Joyner’s journey into running began as child. As a young person she competed in races sponsored by Sugar Ray Robinson Foundation. From age 11 she would continue to run into her teenage years. She was so talented that she was able to receive a scholarship to California State University. There she would major in business. She would later graduate with a degree in psychology. There with the assistance of her coach Bob Kersee  Florence Griffith Joyner would be positioned to be an athletic champion. She won first place at the NCAA 400 meter race in 1983. It was clear she was going to rise to the top. Her Olympic debut could have been sooner, but she could not compete due to the US boycott of the Olympics in 1980. Joyner would come into the Olympics in 1984 winning a silver medal for the 200 meter race. Her performance was not as spectacular, but her fashion presentation and entertaining mannerisms captivated sports fans. Joyner had a interest in fashion and she felt that women’s track suits should be designed  to be aesthetic.  As a high school student she suggested that her teammates wear tights with their uniforms. The 1984 Olympics was a place in which she experimented with a different type of track uniform.

She was known for wearing one legged track suits and wearing jewelry while competing . Athletes tried to avoid wearing such accessories for fear that it might slow them down. This seem to be a myth, because it did not effect Joyner’s running speed.   Her track suits were bright and colorful. She designed them herself and it got her much attention. She was not just a pretty face. When she returned to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Florence Griffith Joyner would make history.

         Florence Griffith Joyner would win three gold medals and one silver in the 1988 Olympics. During the World Championships in 1987 she had already set records. This was an incredible comeback from the 1984 Olympics. Between 1985 and 1986 Joyner had not been running. She spent most her time working as a bank teller and hair stylist. She then realized that she missed running too much and returned to competition. This time she altered her training regimen. She began weight training to improve her performance. She mostly focused on squats and luges to build stronger leg muscles. Florence Griffith Joyner had to balance both her career and athletic pursuit. The reality of the Olympic athlete is that they do not make enormous amounts of money, unless they get endorsements. To many athletes competing in the Olympics is like an expensive hobby.

Florence Griffith Joyner had already acquired a nickname for her athletic feats among fans. Flo-Jo became a household name. Joyner would set a record making her the fastest woman in the world. She ran a 10:54 in the 100 meter final in the 1988 summer Olympics. The biggest and most impressive feat was her record of 10:49 in a 100 meter sprint. While fans cheered this world record, detractors were quick to make baseless accusations of steroid use or that her run time was assisted by wind. Darrell Robinson a track athlete made this accusation without any evidence. Another Olympic athlete Joaquim Cruz made this accusation claiming the change in Joyner’s physique. Her more muscular appearance came from a new training program and she never failed a drug test. This seems to be a problem with women athletes. When they perform well and appear strong they are accused of performance enhancing drug use. Even by the 1980s there were still people who did not fully accept women in sport.

Even though she never failed a drug test and there was not any proof of these accusations, the statements still persisted. Alexandre de Merode head of the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission revealed that Joyner was singled out for extra testing due to the rumors circulating in 1988. This was obviously unfair considering East Germany had a state sponsored doping program and it was rare that their athletes were singled out for more drug testing. Despite this negativity, Florence Griffith Joyner continued to perform under these harsh rumors. Her most popular aphorism was “when anyone tells me I can’t do anything I  I’m just not listening anymore .” This attitude was a way of persevering in the face of negative criticism and dealing with hostility from racism and sexism in the United States.

        Florence Griffith Joyner was and continues to be an important icon. The reason is she demonstrated that a woman in athletics could be powerful and show grace. Her journey was the positive results of Title IX and the civil rights movement. African American athletes were being integrated into the sports world and America began to accept them. Athletes like Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph,  Althea Gibson, and Alice Coachman opened the door for African American athletes. Florence Griffith Joyner became an African American icon, inspiring women of various backgrounds. She was involved in women’s cause stating “It’s important women  to see women make strides.” Joyner also expounded further remarking ” women need to be in control of their lives and feel good about themselves.” This confident personality radiated and captivated female fans. She inspired women to get into running and made it fashionable. Florence Griffith Joyner became a celebrity eventually working as a model, doing acting, and endorsed various products.

After her retirement from racing in 1989, she embarked on numerous ventures. She started the Florence Griffith Joyner Youth Foundation, continued to design clothing, and ran a nail kit company. By 1995 she was also the co-chair on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. Once again she wanted to compete again and in 1996 wanted to compete in the 400 meter run. Unfortunately tendinitis in her right leg stopped her from competing. Although she did not appear in athletics, Joyner did have acting roles. She appeared in Santa Barbara in 1992. Her influence was extensive in the sports world.

35e07745d6754d5c1c85959c6bb80918  Florence Griffith Joyner was such a popular athlete that LJN Toys produced dolls of her likeness. Normally this was reserved for popular cartoon shows or other properties, but a prominent female athlete was getting this treatment. Her media appearances and athletic talent did so much for the promotion of women in sports. Joyner’s talents were recognized and praise during her lifetime. She was inducted into USA track and Field Hall of Fame in 1995. Her life was cut short by a seizure she had in her sleep in 1998. This was caused by cavernous hemangioma in which a collection of  dilated blood vessels form a tumor. This causes seizures, which Joyner had been getting treatment for in 1993 and 1994. Although she only lived 38 years, her impact will be everlasting. The flashy outfits, the amazing athletic performances, and charm made her unique. Women track athletes are no longer considered an anomaly. Florence Griffith Joyner’s efforts contributed to the acceptance of women’s sports in the mainstream and motivated a new generation of runners who would emerge in the 21st century.

Florence Griffith Joyner: Icon, Athlete, and The Fastest Woman in the World

Iris Kyle : The Best Bodybuilder Ever

Iris Kyle has been one of the most successful bodybuilders of the 21st century. Her impressive amount of victories demonstrate a true talent for the bodybuilding sport. She was able to break both Corey Everson’s  and Lenda Murray’s records. Since 1994 she has been competing and has been a force to be reckoned with. Iris Kyle will certainly be remembered in IFBB history has one of the most important athletes to grace the stage. Iris Kyle won the Ms.Olympia in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Besides her Ms. Olympia titles, she holds seven win in the Ms. International competition. She did this in a span of ten years. Although a woman of many talents she had generated criticism from fellow competitors and detractors alike. Whatever one thinks of the physique she presents, one cannot say is not a great bodybuilder. Talent like this keeps the sport alive and interesting. Iris Kyle was born in 1974 in Benton, Michigan and participated in sports during her childhood. She ran cross country, played basketball, and,  softball. She would continue to play basketball on a sports scholarship, receiving a degree in business administration  with a minor accounting from Alcorn State University. Her contact with bodybuilding did not come until she moved to California.

When she was in Orange County Iris recalled being amazed by the gym she went to seeing fit looking people. There she became a devoted reader of Flex, Muscle and Fitness, as well as Iron Man Magazine. What took her by surprise was seeing Lenda Murray’s physique in a magazine. To Iris’s own admission, ” I wanted to develop a physique like hers.” Everyone gets inspiration from somewhere and Iris found her’s. She was also inspired by Bev Francis. Iris then at the age of 23 won her pro card at the 1998 NPC USA Championship. Before that she won her very first bodybuilding competition in the 1994 Long Beach Classic. It was clear that she was going to be major competition going into the 2000s. A new generation of female bodybuilder had emerged.

       Iris kyle would go against some of the longtime greats such as Juilette Bergmann and Lenda Murray. She lost the overall to Bergmann, but won the 2001 heavyweight title. Iris would come in second both in 2002 and 2003 to Lenda Murray who even out of retirement was formidable. The 2004 Ms.Olympia was different and Iris dethroned Lenda Murray. There was criticism from fans and even competitors alike.

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Lenda Murray said ” she destroyed her look as a woman.” This seems ludicrous, because their physiques are similar with only slight differences. Critics who never liked or wanted female bodybuilding in the first place claimed that Iris Kyle had gone “too far in her appearance.” These statements and claims seem baseless. Iris was presenting a larger and balanced physique which is why she won some many contests. At 5 ft 7in  and 165 pounds in competition she was able to sculpt her body into a new model for the female bodybuilding physique. Just like Bev Francis and Lenda Murray they ushered in a new look. when these new paradigms are introduced, they are not always accepted. The Lenda Murray comments can be seen as a form of jealousy. When you win so many times it natural to feel frustration when you lose.  It seems odd that someone Iris idolized would say such a thing.  The 2004 Olympia was the passing of the torch. Many observers of the sport claim this was the period female bodybuilding went on a sharp decline. The sport was not generating as much revenue or gaining as much attendance, but that does mean the quality of competitors went down.

Iris Kyle’s dedication and persistence shows that women can do this just as well as the men. She would continue to dominate the sport in the 2000s and 2010s. She would later retire ( temporarily) in 2014 after winning another Olympia. This was a low point, because 2014 was the last Ms.Olympia and Iris was no longer competing. When it was announced that there was to be the Rising Phoenix to replace the ms.Olympia Kyle then came out of retirement. She announced that she would appear in 2016 on stage, but something happened. For some reason she was not invited to the competition. This is a deliberate violation of IFBB rules. If you are professional then you are allowed to compete in contests. It seemed as if the sponsor the Rising Phoenix show did not want Iris to compete and complications occurred over contracts. This was a mistake to have a show that was a successor to the Olympia and not have Iris Kyle in the line-up. Decisions like these harm the sport and anger fans.  Tim Gardner the organizer of the show made this mistake. Hopefully, Iris Kyle will make a stage appearance in 2017.

         The ten time Ms.Olympia has gathered a following over the years. Iris Kyle also has engaged in business ventures opening Bodi Cafe which specializes in smoothies and supplements. Iris Kyle also has her own Youtube Channel in which she shows training techniques. The channel currently hold about 2,388 subscribers.

2009 Arnold Sports Festival
Follow Iris Kyle : Iris Kyle YT and Iris Kyle Facebook

Her Facebook page has generated a following of 150, 778 people. Besides that Iris Kyle maintains a website IrisKyle.com  in which she also helps and consults in regards to weight training. Iris kyle  continues to have influence in the bodybuilding community and her name is readily recognizable in many fitness circles. Her constant victories and uniqueness have gained her nicknames such as ” the female Ronnie Coleman” and “iron maiden.” She also got exposure in mainstream entertainment on the show Wipeout . Being a vary religious individual she has stated “Christ has strengthened me.” She starts her days reading the Bible and with a prayer. Iris Kyle’s time is spent training clients, conducting seminars, and doing guest posing. The Olympia champion certainly has a busy schedule.  Iris Kyle has faced many competitors including greats like Yaxeni Garcia, Alina Popa, Lenda Murray,  Juliette Begmann, and Vicki Gates.

Iris Kyle had stated that her biggest challenge was competing against Lenda Murray and Yaxeni Garcia. These two competitors were difficult for her to beat, but she eventually did. There was a level of confusion in 2005 with the 20 percent rule. The IFBB stated that all competitors in women’s divisions must reduce their muscularity by a 20 percent margin. Iris wanted to follow the rules and come to competition smaller.  Iris went in at 155 pounds, but Garcia came in larger and won. The contradiction in judging has always been frustrating to athletes, At that moment Iris Kyle realized she had to change and it had to be guided by her own assessments. The irony was that Lenda Murray was announcing the winner that year. Iris Kyle then reverted back to the same training regimen. She trains from heavy lifting to supersets  and drop sets.

 After losing to Lenda Murray in both 2002 and 2003 she was determined to win. Iris has facetiously claimed ” if you are going for the champ you have to completely knock out the camp.” Iris Kyle then began a long reign in 2004 of dominating both the Ms. International competitions and Ms.Olympia. Kyle puts her success down to “training smart not hard.” During the off season she trains five days and has two days of rest. She trains one body part per day and allows herself to do three days of cardio training. Kyle although successful has faced criticism. Critics claim she took her physique “too far” and that it was harming the bodybuilding aesthetics. These claims are baseless, because she is no more extreme than any other physique that appears on stage. Iris Kyle simply to the physical paradigm to another logical step. Her physique combined the large size of Bev Francis and the balance of Lenda  Murray while maintaining the symmetry and definition of Corey Everson and Carla Dunlap. Iris Kyle perfected what these early pioneers had started. The idea that women who get “too big” lose their femininity is antiquated and sexist. This is about building a physique and although people may not find it suitable for women, no one can say women are terrible bodybuilders. There is a point when it becomes more than just pleasing judges or acclimating to a particular perspective. Iris Kyle revealed in an interview “never allow someone else’s opinion to dictate your future.” Surprisingly she admitted that someone once said to her she would never become Ms.Olympia. They were obviously wrong. There may not be a Ms.Olympia contest anymore, but Iris Kyle being the last one carries on that legacy. Iris Kyle will be considered in sports history as one of the most accomplished bodybuilders.

Iris Kyle : The Best Bodybuilder Ever

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Beauty and What It Means

This is a blog written by Autumn Whitefield Madrano that seeks to understand the concept of beauty and what it means in a cultural context. She seeks to in her own words engage with these questions of beauty and how to an extent it dictates the lives of women. She seems to be influenced by  The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. That book has some analytical flaws and half truths. It would be too simple to dismiss this site as another third wave feminist promotion, but there is a difference. She interviews women from all walks of life and various professions. Comedians, sex workers, and in this case female bodybuilders. Colette Nelson was interviewed for the blog in 2011. What is special about this is that blog’s that tend to be third wave feminist ignore the muscular woman or athlete. Compared to other issues and struggles, it may be low priority. However, it does offer a radical paradigm shift in how women see their bodies and what the female body is capable of.  The interview exposes readers who may not familiar to the bodybuilding world to another image of beauty. Many claim that this type of body on a woman is not beautiful. This leads to the question what is beauty? Who defines it? If an alternative is found to current standards will that be just as oppressive as the current ones? The Colette Nelson interview explores these questions.

            The definition of beauty can be stated as ” the quality aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts mind or spirit.” This becomes ambiguous when questioned. The beauty concept and be highly subjective. It should be understood beauty had become a subject of philosophy notably in aesthetics. The modern world merely associates it with physical attractiveness of a person. These concepts date back to classical Greece and the Age of Reason. Physical attractiveness is a different  concept, but closely related. This varies from culture and time period. At one time in the West a fuller figure was more accepted. Around the 20th century a thinner look was made an ideal. Now it seems there is a small, yet growing fitness fad that wants present a stronger looking form for the female body. These models and paradigms change. Colette explains her sport as follows : “bodybuilding-at least women’s bodybuilding is another way of judging beauty.” She explains further that ” for those who attend and judge women’s bodybuilding contests, the muscular woman is beautiful.” Here were getting more of an idea of the definition. Beauty can be defined in multiple forms and in this case it is a muscular one. The reason this becomes an amazing paradigm shift is that it redefines the beauty model. The muscular body was thought to be something solely of the male domain. It was contrasted with either the soft or frail body of woman.

The strong woman breaks the mold of the rigid dichotomy. It is commonly believed that the pursuit of beauty to such a degree is either based in arrogance or vanity. Colette then states: “do you consider a woman who does make up hours in front of the mirror arrogant ?” Colette’s response was no in her argument. She then says “why should we give this label to a woman who works out hard in the gym and shows results on stage?” Colette then says both are seeking their version of perfection. The reason is based in sexism. Women are held to a different standard and it is normally designed to be restrictive. When examining these definitions and connotations of beauty it becomes more complicated when femininity becomes connected. Femininity’s definition has nothing to do with beauty or physical attractiveness. It can mean simply the qualities of womanhood. Colette explains that people see contradictions between muscles, femininity, and beauty. Beauty and femininity can have multiple meanings, so there would be limited contradiction based on subjective ideas. Muscles are part of the human body. These strong women have decided to develop it to the highest level attainable.

      Femininity does not equal beauty. The definition is “the qualities of being a woman.” yet what makes a woman a woman? Gender defines it in a cultural context that could vary. These attitudes change overtime. This however should not be confused with biological sex, which is the product of human evolution and sexual dimorphism. Societies that are extremely patriarchal or male dominated dictate femininity in rigid gender lines. This is designed to be restrictive and controlling of women. When examined from the context of sports it has been said that women active in them are not feminine. Such attitudes demonstrate sexism, but have been challenged. It is no long abnormal for a woman to display strength or athletic skills. There are still limits of acceptance in the cultural atmosphere. A woman can show some strength,but not too much that it challenges the notion men have sole monopoly on physical strength. Colette says in the interview “that she wants to prove that muscle can be feminine and beautiful.” It certainly can be one form of beauty; the problem is that people have a narrow perspective of other paradigms or alternatives. Some women who do not fit the majority model of beauty may even internalize negativity. Women who alter their bodies to further extremes through drug use receive ostracism from the public and even their  their own circles.  It seems that the concern over drug use is more about a woman’s appearance rather than their health. Virilization can occur depending on how long steroids were taken and specific dosage. Colette said she was never willing to go that route, because she did not want to sacrifice her femininity. That term is  ambiguous and can mean many things depending on which culture and community you reside in. To say women who have been effected by drug use are no longer women represents the narrow space in which they can navigate in society. Colette has fought back in a sense providing make-up and hairdressing services to competitors. Colette has helped with women who have had baldness or facial hair growth. Colette articulated “it was not her place to judge or criticize these women, but should they ask for it offer my help.” If only the public and bodybuilding community could have the same conviction, women would have an easier time. A woman who does not take the drug use route still has criticism directed at them for their appearance. Colette reveals that most women would rather have the body shape of Jillian Michaels.

It appears at times that Colette even struggles with the idea of a muscular woman. Colette expresses “as a female bodybuilder you walk a fine line.” She expounds further saying ” you love muscle, yet you love being a woman at the same time.” This is not a contradiction yet many in the fitness circles still think in this manner. What bothers more traditional thinkers is that it alters their views of femininity. Women who participate in this sport have formed a new definition of femininity. This new thought not only frightens some, but its the idea that women’s bodies can be powerful. Some men do not like the like the concept of a woman being physically stronger. This intrudes on the unwritten mores of gender norms in which masculine identity has a huge emphasis on strength and dominance. The more tolerant men may find women in shape appealing . This also has a limit among supporters. A woman can be strong just not “too” strong. One coded language phrase is that a woman who is too muscular “crossed the line.” This means that the woman is no longer acceptable in terms of body type and physical attractiveness. This subtle sexist attitude does not realize these athletes are doing this for themselves not the approval of others.  There has been at least a shift were society at least accepts a woman that is in shape or has some visible muscle. However, female bodybuilders are the most muscular which in the eyes of some men are threatening.

 The threat is that it makes them realize that strength is not their sole property. One reason women have been subjugated in particular societies is due to the fact they do not have control of their own bodies. This extends to the restriction on reproductive rights and how women should look. The deviation from conformity also is threatening, mainly on the basis it could depose the status quo. Whether women choose to build their bodies by natural or pharmaceutical means it is a radical statement about what a woman is. It seems to be so controversial some feminists even reject the muscular woman or ignore them in the discourse on gender relations. There should not be a contradiction between femininity and athletics. The only reason it would be is in a society that has a limited view of what women and be and accomplish.

     How Colette Nelson acquired her respect for the muscular form is interesting. She was 12 years old when she saw pictures of  Rachel Mclish and Cory Everson and loved how they looked. When Colette was growing up female bodybuilding was in its infancy. Never before had women developed their bodies to this level in human history. There were of course muscular women prior to the sport, but this was the first time they had a platform.

Colette admits she loved bigger and muscular bodies. Oddly she also reveals that she had dissatisfaction with her own figure. As ludicrous as this sounds she claims “she never considered herself looking good” in her youth. It is clear now she is a more confident person, yet it is still prevalent that young women age taught to have a level of insecurity about their appearance. Extreme cases may result in developing eating disorders, constant dieting, and psychological issues. Colette was able to avoid these problems through exercise. This had to be done for the sake of her health considering she has type 1 diabetes. The discovery she had this disease in her own words made her feel “weak, damaged and broken.”  Colette the took the suggestion of working out and found it was an empowering experience. She became more accepting of her body and loved being strong. Women who do this do say they develop a new sense of self and greater level security in their abilities in other areas of life. There are not only physical benefits from weightlifting;there are important psychological developments that contribute to well being.

    Being diagnosed with such an illness diet and exercise are pivotal for health. Colette was expose to an alternative of beauty and decided for herself that it should be replicated. This demonstrates that images and beliefs that children are exposed to can influence their attitudes later in life. It is possible if more people were exposed to women like this early in life it would not be such a shock to them in adulthood.

         Colette did not go into bodybuilding to get attention, but people are not used to seeing a muscular woman. Living in New York, there seems to be a more open atmosphere. She does get stares and Colette even admits she likes the attention. There were times in which men would say “I want to armwrestle you.” The majority of the comments Colette Nelson receives are positive. Though its still is not unheard of to get some form of vituperation or insult from the more closed minded. There are many reasons why people would respond to the muscular or athletic woman in a certain way. Curiosity and the desire to discover something new may cause stares or questions. Their may be an attraction to such a physique and seeing it up close causes excitement.

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Colette Nelson recognizes that we are not brought up how to respond to women with muscle. Seeing as women like this are rare, it does induce some form of wonder. There now is more exposure thanks to the internet and social media. This is another challenge women have to deal with. Either it is an in between off hash criticism or sexualization. The problem with the latter is that it reduces the women to sex objects, rather than focusing on their accomplishments. It is understandable why female bodybuilders who get frustrated being seen as fetish objects for schmoes. Like it or not a woman with a muscular frame will attract  attention both negative and positive.

       Another issue arises from the development of another beauty model. Does it just remove another one and then becomes standard? Some feminists argue that bodybuilding would not be empowering on the grounds it has women obsessively pursue a particular image. The flaw with this assertion is that these women are going against mainstream convention. The most empowering act is to make your own decisions as a free individual. Here, women decide to become as physically powerful as possible doubtless of what men think. Colette Nelson describes her bodybuilding pursuit as the struggle for perfection in terms of muscular aesthetics. Colette stated “she was always  classed a pretty, but wanted more.” This is not hubris.This is competitive drive and what some bodybuilders refer to as living sculpture. Flesh is the clay and the weights become your tools of molding art. The point is not to say all women should appear a certain way, but realize they are all different. There should be room for all forms of beauty.

         While it is true there is a level of societal pressure placed on women to look and behave a certain way, there are instances in which personal decisions add to the problem. The biggest problem with the the beauty myth theory is that women do certain things to themselves in others which perpetuate a vicious cycle. Third wave feminists fail to admit this unfortunate reality. Women continue to spend large amounts of money of make -up, hair care, and anti-aging products. There is no one forcing them to do such things, but the power of advertisement and capitalist free market enterprise is powerful . When examined from this point of view, the argument that women are being oppressed by a beauty myth seems to lack credibility. Then it is no secret that other women criticize women who look different. Many female bodybuilders have said they have gotten negative comments surprisingly from other women.

Naomi Wolf.
If Naomi Wolf is convinced that the beauty myth harms women so, why does she still wear make up and engage in other behaviors that perpetuate it ?

 At some point being pressured is not a legitimate excuse.  To a feminist looks should not be of importance, because liberation is the goal. There are many contradictions of what remains of a feminist movement. Another problem is that the feminist movement refuses in its mainstream discourse to be intersectional. White women middle class feminists ignore or either do not care about the struggle against racism, homophobia,  or class conflict.  The beauty myth concept often ignores that racist element in models of beauty which  dehumanize African and Asian people. Light skin is considered” beautiful “and African American women are told to straighten their hair. Asian women are pressured into getting eye lid surgery. These changes in appearance are done to mimic the appearance of whiteness. They are designed to instill self hate, while simultaneously presenting the oppressor as a “superior being.” The fact white middle class feminists do not challenge this is because the benefit from white supremacy and white privilege.  They just do not benefit from to the maximum extent due to their sex. Besides these complicated issues of racism, there is the issue of blaming every man for women’s condition. Radical feminists claim that all men contribute to women’s oppression. This is a false assertion, considering there are men who are members of oppressed groups. African American, Native American, South American, and Asian American men have suffered under the violence of white supremacy. To say every man oppresses every woman has not factual support. Hopefully, women can learn to reject societal pressure and think for themselves what beauty means to them.

          Since this blog post was written there has been some shift. It is a small one that emerged in fitness circles with the slogan “strong is the new skinny.” While women are not attempt to reach Colette’s level, the idea that some muscle does not seem like an anathema. The rise of crossfit did contribute with women presenting not only impressive physiques, but excellent performances. The responses are positive, with the occasional detractor.

 Again, there is another conundrum. This slogan and zeitgiest seems to be mostly confined to a small circle. Although it has gotten some mainstream exposure. the concept of a woman being “too much” still lingers. There are still backward and dated notions about what women should be and do. What also is frustrating is that the mainstream treats  the sudden acceptance ( to a limited degree) of the muscular woman as a recent phenomenon. There have been male fans who have been following female bodybuilding since its inception during the 1970s. The emergence of the internet expanded the audience and led to the growth of a subculture. Now there are millions of websites, blogs , and social media venues specifically targeting female muscle fans. While it seems unlikely at this point that the muscular body will be a model of beauty for the mainstream, women have decided to make it their own. When Colette Nelson was born Title IX was only two years old and female bodybuilding did not exist. These two events radically changed how women viewed themselves and their physical capabilities. The best action women can take is to define beauty on their own terms, rather than having it dictated to them.

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means