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A strongwoman refers to either a woman performing feats of strength in a show or circus, or a woman who competes in strength athletics. Traditionally, strongwomen have had a special appeal, as women involved in demonstrated feats of strength were exceptions.
Some famous traditional strongwomen include:
- Minerva (Josephine Blatt née Wohlford), (c.1869 – 1923) born in New Jersey.
- Charmion (Laverie Vallee née Cooper), (1875 – 1949) born in Sacramento, California.
- Vulcana (Kate Williams aka Kate Roberts), (1875 – 1946) born in Abergavenny, Wales.
- Katie Sandwina, (1884 – 1952) born in Vienna, Austria.
- Joan Rhodes, (1920 – 2010) born in London, England.
In recent years, the term strongwoman has come to refer to the women who compete in events such as the annual World's Strongest Woman (WSW) competitions, sanctioned by the International Federation of Strength Athletes (IFSA), and televised nationally on ESPN. In these contests, the participants compete in events such as the farmer's walk (walking as far as possible with heavy steel rods in each hand), the shield carry, the car deadlift, and others.
Some notable modern strongwomen include:
- Jill Mills, 2001 & 2002 World's Strongest Woman, including the first one held in 2001 in Zambia
- Robin Coleman, who took 3rd place in the 2001 WSW competition
- Becca Swanson, powerlifting world record holder, self pro-claimed worlds strongest woman (no titles)
- Aneta Florczyk, 4x winner of the World Strongwoman Championships (2003-2008)
- Kristin Rhodes, Strongwoman World Champion 2012, runner-up 2013 & 2008, 6x America's Strongest Woman
- Heini Koivuniemi, runner-up in the 2001 WSW, third place in 2002 & 2003