Lenda Murray

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Lenda Murray[1]
Personal info
NicknameFemale Haney[2]
Born (1962-02-22) February 22, 1962 (age 57)[1]
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.[1]
Height5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight(In Season): 150–153 lb (68–69 kg)
(Off-Season): 158–164 lb (72–74 kg)
Professional career
Pro-debutIFBB Ms. Olympia[1], 1990[1]
Best winMs. Olympia champion (heavyweight and overall)[1], 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2002, and 2003[1]
PredecessorCory Everson
Juliette Bergmann
Iris Kyle[1]
SuccessorKim Chizevsky-Nicholls
Iris Kyle[1]
ActiveRetired 2004[1]

Lenda Murray (born February 22, 1962) is an American professional female bodybuilding champion.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Murray was born in 1962 in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Darcelious and Louvelle Murray. She began participating in organized sports at the age of 15. At Henry Ford High School, Murray was both a record-holding sprinter and varsity cheerleader. She went on to attend Western Michigan University, earning a degree in political science and intended to become a lawyer. While at Western Michigan, she continued to cheerlead, and became the second African American to be chosen as the university’s homecoming queen in 1982.[3][4]

After a brief tenure cheerleading for the Michigan Panthers in the now-defunct United States Football League, she worked with the Michigan Panthers for two years and then was invited to try out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. After she auditioned for the group and made the next-to-last cut, she decided she might need to slenderize her thighs a bit.[5]

Bodybuilding career[edit]

Amateur career[edit]

In 1984, she joined a gym, the Powerhouse Gym, in Highland Park, Michigan. Within the first two days of joining the gym, Ron Love, an NPC Nationals contender told her that she had the physique to be a bodybuilder. After about a year of training to just stay in shape, she decided to compete in the 1985 Ms. Michigan Championships. After placing 4th she was hooked to the sport. Her father didn't show up to her first bodybuilding competition, but eventually did to others.[6] She rose quickly through the ranks, soon winning contests at the state and regional levels. In 1989, she earned her professional status at the IFBB North American Championships.[1]

Professional career[edit]


Murray soon became a regular presence in bodybuilding magazines and a favorite subject of photographer Bill Dobbins who focused extensively on her in his books The Women and Modern Amazons.[1] At the 1990 Ms. Olympia, Murray succeeded six-time champion Cory Everson and defeated Bev Francis to become the Ms. Olympia champion, a title Murray would hold for six years from 1990 to 1995. She appeared in such mass-market publications as Sports Illustrated, Ebony, Mademoiselle, and Vanity Fair, as well as in Annie Leibovitz’s photo essay Women. Murray’s physique became the standard against which professional female bodybuilders are now judged—an hourglass figure, with broad shoulders tapering into a V-shaped torso mirrored by a proportionally-developed lower body.[5] At the 1991 Ms. Olympia, Murray won the slimmest margin of victory for any Ms. Olympia, edging out Bev Francis by a final score of 31 to 32. Afterwards, she would go on to win the Ms. Olympia competition in 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995.[1][7] At a 1994 guest appearance at the Mr. Universe competition, Murray met her future husband, Urel McGill.[6]

First retirement[edit]

Murray lost the Ms. Olympia title to Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls in 1996, and went into retirement after finishing second to Chizevsky-Nicholls again in December 1997.[1][8]


However, after four years of retirement she returned to the Ms. Olympia stage, and won two more Ms. Olympia titles in 2002 and 2003.[1]

Second retirement[edit]

She finished second in the heavyweight class to Iris Kyle in 2004, and again retired from competition.[1]


Murray has won eight overall Ms. Olympia titles and has two professional wins in her weight class. She is the second most successful female bodybuilder ever, second only to Iris Kyle.[1] From February 28, 2003 to May 31, 2003, she ranked 1st on the IFBB Women's Bodybuilding Professional Ranking List.[9][10]

Murray has previously done commentary for bodybuilding events on ESPN from 1993 to 1996. In 2010, Murray was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame. In March 2011, she became a member of the National Fitness Hall of Fame and received the award from Arnold Schwarzenegger.[11] Every year there is an NPC competition, held at Norfolk State University, called the Lenda Murray Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini Championships, which she is a promoter and organizer for.[6][8]

Contest history[edit]

  • 1985 NPC Michigan State - 4th
  • 1985 NPC Eastern Michigan - 1st
  • 1986 NPC Michigan - 3rd
  • 1986 NPC Ironwoman Michigan - 3rd
  • 1987 NPC Michigan - 3rd
  • 1987 NPC North Coast - 2nd
  • 1988 NPC Michigan - 1st
  • 1989 NPC Junior Nationals - 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 1989 IFBB North American Championships - 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 1990 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st
  • 1991 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st
  • 1992 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st
  • 1993 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st
  • 1994 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st
  • 1995 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st
  • 1996 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 2nd
  • 1997 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 2nd
  • 2002 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 2003 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 2004 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 2nd (HW)[1]

Personal life[edit]

Murray is married to Urel Timothy McGill and lives in Playa del Rey, California with her cat, TJ.[6][12] She is a Christian.[13] She is a grandmother of 11 and a stepmother of four.[6]

Murray has done many videos to help others in their pursuit of fitness, been a professional cheerleader, a physical fitness trainer, a private trainer to professional wrestlers, athletes and others, along with trying out to become a professional wrestler for the World Wrestling Federation in 1997. In November 1990, she founded Lenda Murray Inc. From June 1999 to November 2004, she oversaw the daily operations, administrative and financial activities of The Fitness Firm. From 1999 to 2005, Murray and McGill owned a gym in Virginia Beach, Virginia called The Fitness Burn.[6][8]

Television appearances[edit]

Murray has appeared on daytime talk shows like Geraldo, The Montel Williams Show, and The Jerry Springer Show.[6]


  • Todd, Jan, "Lenda Murray", St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Gale Group, 1999

External links[edit]

Lenda Murray Ms. Olympia Official website

Ms. Olympia
Preceded by
Cory Everson
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls
Preceded by
Juliette Bergmann
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Iris Kyle