Hailing from Australia, Bev Francis started out as a power lifter and a track and field star before moving to professional bodybuilding. She broke the Australian shot put record in 1977 and was also the first women to bench press more than 300 pounds (136 kilograms). Francis held 16 world power lifting records during her career and won six world championships from 1980 to 1985. She was undefeated in all of her power lifting competitions.
Francis was also featured in "Pumping Iron II." She was recruited from Australia by the filmmaker George Butler, who initially questioned whether she was actually a woman. Francis was much larger and more muscular than Rachel McLish, and was depicted in the film as the extreme of the sport. She's credited with putting an emphasis on muscularity in the sport, which also illustrated the ongoing struggle present in female bodybuilding.
Many consider Francis to be a victim of the IFBB's attempts to make female bodybuilders more feminine. She has stated that her "goal throughout [her] career in bodybuilding was to show how hard and muscular and big a woman can be" [source: Rosenthal]. Francis slimmed down for the 1990 Ms. Olympia contest in an attempt to better compete with the smaller women, only to lose to a larger competitor. The following year she went back to her usual routine and was more muscular, but still lost.
Francis retired in 1991 and opened a Gold's Gym (now called Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym) with her husband, Steve Weinberger. They both judge IFBB competitions and sell fitness supplements under the name Iron-Tek.
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