Bev Francis (born February 15, 1955) is a retired powerlifter and female bodybuilder from Australia.
Her list of athletic achievements includes breaking more than 40 powerlifting records, and winning six powerlifting world championships. In 1977, she broke the Australian shot put record in track and field. She is best known for her career as a professional bodybuilder. In 1985 gained notoriety 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.
Her career is also 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. While her 1985 debut 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 subjective 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. Francis subsequently decided to work for the body type that she wanted—one with more muscularity—for her final competition, the 1991 Ms. Olympia, the first women’s bodybuilding competition to be televised live. Prior to the contest, Francis said, “I’m gonna show what my concept of a woman bodybuilder is. I’m as muscular and as hard as possible with the best symmetry attainable. If my physique doesn’t win, it doesn’t matter, because… this time I’m just pleasing myself.”
In a controversial decision, Francis took second place to Lenda Murray.
Contest history (bodybuilding)
* 1983 Caesars World Cup – 8th
* 1984 IFBB Grand Prix Las Vegas – 8th
* 1986 LA Pro Championship – 3rd
* 1986 Ms. International – 3rd
* 1986 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 10th
* 1987 Pro World Championship – 1st
* 1987 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 3rd
* 1988 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 3rd
* 1989 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 3rd
* 1990 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
* 1991 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
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).
Francis married Steve Weinberger, a New Yorker whom she met on the set of Pumping Iron II, on September 30, 1984. She has two daughters, Tara (born July 18, 1994) and Haley (born November 13, 1995).