Bev Francis

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Bev Francis
— Bodybuilder  —
Personal info
Born (1955-02-15) 15 February 1955 (age 59)
Geelong, Australia
Professional career
Best win 1991 Ms. Olympia runner-up, 1990–1991
Active Retired 1991
Bev Francis
Medal record
Competitor for Australia
Women's Powerlifting
World Games
Gold 1980 IPF Women's World Powerlifting Championships 75 kg
Gold 1981 IPF Women's World Powerlifting Championships 82.5 kg
Gold 1982 IPF Women's World Powerlifting Championships 75 kg
Gold 1983 IPF Women's World Powerlifting Championships 82.5 kg
Gold 1984 IPF Women's World Powerlifting Championships 82.5 kg
Gold 1985 IPF Women's World Powerlifting Championships 82.5 kg

Beverley "Bev" Francis (born 15 February 1955) is a retired powerlifter and female bodybuilder from Australia, where she was a national shot put champion. Her list of athletic achievements includes breaking more than 40 powerlifting records, and winning six powerlifting world championships. She is also a writer and bodybuilding judge and owns a gym in Syosset, New York, in the United States where she now lives.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Francis was born 15 February 1955 in Geelong, Australia. At 15 years she studied ballet.[2] She went to the University of Melbourne.[1] After university, she became a Physical Education teacher.[2]

Bodybuilding career[edit]

After being the first woman to bench press over 300 pounds,[citation needed] a picture of her appeared in several bodybuilding magazines around the world, doing what's called a most muscular pose or "the crab" while wearing a bikini. While she wasn't ripped, there was enough definition to delineate the muscles, and the fact that she possessed far more muscular size than the most muscular female bodybuilders at the time raised the question, "What would she look like on a bodybuilding stage?"[3] In 1982 she won the Australian national shot put championships.[4] She is best known for her career as a professional bodybuilder. In 1985 she gained notice through her role in the movie Pumping Iron II: The Women directed by George Butler, who was drawn to Francis for her reputation as "history's strongest woman". The film casts her in a controversial role within the ongoing debate over femininity and female muscularity, with her naturally massive size and muscular development challenging preconceived notions about the limits of female bodybuilding.[3][5]

Body image and judging criteria[edit]

Her career is illustrative of the struggle with engaging in the sport for personal goals as opposed to for the satisfaction of the judges, who were required to judge female bodybuilders on a vague and subjective criteria of femininity.[citation needed] While her 1983 debut in the made-for-the-movie competition, received much attention for pushing the sport in a more muscular direction, when she placed 8th, her loss led her to spend years changing her look in an attempt to meet this criteria.

After years of attempting to meet the femininity standards of the contests, including using such beauty techniques as getting a nose job, lightening her hair, and slimming down her physique, she still failed to win first at the major competitions. However, she soon figured out how to make her physique more symmetrical while maintaining the size built from her powerlifting background (the three powerlifts are basics in bodybuilding training and bodybuilders with backgrounds as champion powerlifters tend to have tremendous size and density for their frames)[citation needed] and won the World Championship in 1987. She continued to tinker with her physique, which led to a disappointing 1990 Ms. Olympia. After her physique was criticized as not having the fullness or muscularity compared to winner Lenda Murray and some other top placers, Francis decided to get as massive as symmetrically possible for the 1991 Olympia.[citation needed]

Her first contest, the Caesar's World Cup, was created for the movie. Her last contest was altered for television, spread over two days to accommodate ESPN's live telecast. Almost all the women came in considerably larger than the previous year, surprising not just the ESPN viewers who weren't hardcore bodybuilding fans, but some bodybuilding fans.[citation needed] Francis built a big lead after the two rounds of prejudging. Normally, the night show is mostly just for that—show. Unless a bodybuilding contest is very close or a competitor completely blows a posing routine, there's not much that changes after the night show routines. But Francis lost her lead and finished second to Lenda Murray, who was herself 11 pounds bigger than the previous year.[3]

Contest history (bodybuilding)[1][edit]

  • 1983 Caesars World Cup – 8th
  • 1984 IFBB Grand Prix Las Vegas – 8th
  • 1986 LA Pro Championship – 3rd
  • 1986 Ms. International – 3rd
  • 1986 International Federation of BodyBuilders: Ms. Olympia – 10th
  • 1987 Pro World Championship – 1st
  • 1987 International Federation of BodyBuilders: Ms. Olympia – 3rd
  • 1988 International Federation of BodyBuilders: Ms. Olympia – 3rd
  • 1989 International Federation of BodyBuilders: Ms. Olympia – 3rd
  • 1990 International Federation of BodyBuilders: Ms. Olympia – 2nd
  • 1991 International Federation of BodyBuilders: Ms. Olympia – 2nd

Powerlifting career[edit]

Bev Francis won gold medals in her weight class in the International Powerlifting Federation Championships from 1980 through to 1985. In 1980, Francis held all world records in the 82.5 kilo weight class.[2]

  • 1982 - World Record in 82.5 kilo class at the Australian Powerlifting Championships at Adelaide with a Squat of 216 kilos.[6]

Post-competition career[edit]

Francis owns her own gym in Syosset, New York, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym. She is also a judge for the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB).[1]


Francis was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2000.[3] She was inducted into the International Powerlifting Federation Hall of Fame in 1987.[7][8]

Personal life[edit]

Francis married Steve Weinberger, a New Yorker whom she met on the set of Pumping Iron II: The Women,[1] on 30 September 1984 and has two daughters.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bev Francis, Biography Page". Australia Bodybuilding. 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Bev is the strongest woman in the world.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982). 22 October 1980. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "IFBB Hall of Fame Inductees for 2000". International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Australian Athletics, Historical Results: Beverley Francis". Athletics Australia. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Trebay, Guy (28 March 2000). "The Body Politic". The Village Voice. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  6. ^ "POWERLIFTING.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 16 August 1982. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "IPF Hall of Fame". International Powerlifting Federation. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  8. ^ Christensen, Karen (2001). International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports. Macmillan Reference USA. ISBN 9780028649528. 

External links[edit]