“Not Only Was It Odd but It Wasn’t Really Welcomed”: 25x World Record Powerlifter Mentions the Dark Past of Women in Strength Sports While Sharing a Silver Lining

Published 06/24/2023, 11:30 AM EDT

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In a world where many once thought only men had strength and athleticism, women have defied stereotypes and broken barriers for years. The first International Powerlifting Federation-sanctioned competition for women in 1979 marked a crucial turning point in women’s strength sports history. However, the Olympic Games did not include a women’s weightlifting category until 2000, showing the growing acceptance and recognition of women’s strength and skills. In this historic event, 85 athletes from 47 countries took part, proving that women were ready for the international spotlight.

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Subsequently, the expansion of the women’s division in strength sports not only broadened the sport but also paved the way for formidable female athletes who accomplished seemingly unattainable goals. One such athlete is Stefi Cohen, a powerhouse who deadlifted an incredible 4.4 times her body weight. Additionally, Cohen is an exceptional individual as she is not only strong in athletics but also holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Recently, she posted about women’s acceptance in strength sports on social media. At the same time, she offered an uplifting message and discussed the bleak history of women’s sports.

Stefi Cohen encourages women to embrace their strength

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In an Instagram post, the 25x world record powerlifter shared a picture of herself performing a sumo lift on a scenic beach. In the background, blurred people appeared, amazed by her powerful strength and taking photos of the moment. The image came with an inspiring caption that connected with female athletes worldwide.

“It was odd to see a girl in the weight room, when I started lifting. Not only was it odd but it wasn’t really welcomed. It’s so cool to see how far strength sports have come for women,” the caption read. 

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In December 2018, the elite powerlifter impressively established a new world record by deadlifting 545 lbs at a weight of just 123 lbs. To understand this accomplishment better, imagine Hafthor Bjornsson deadlifting 1763.5 lbs. The 5ft beast’s journey to this extraordinary accomplishment is nothing short of an adventure.

Redefining what’s possible in women’s sports

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Cohen started her sports career in school, showcasing remarkable soccer abilities that led to an invitation to join the Venezuelan National Soccer Team under 17 in 2006. After playing on the national team for three years until 2009, she then pursued her love for fitness at a gym. There, Cohen improved her skills and set out on a journey to teach others.

This powerhouse athlete stands as a trailblazer in the realm of women’s powerlifting. Her dominance is further exemplified by her all-time world records in the squat, deadlift, and total in two weight classes. As a 114-lb athlete, she stunned the world with a 446 lbs squat, a 452 lbs deadlift, and an impressive 1,124 lbs total.

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Besides her impressive powerlifting accomplishments, the 31-year-old also entered the boxing world in 2021. She made her debut, winning with a technical knockout (TKO), and has since fought in six matches. In these fights, she achieved four wins, had one draw, and suffered one loss. Undeniably, Stefi Cohen serves as an inspiring role model for young women. Moreover, she demonstrates that one can not only succeed in strength sports but also excel in multiple domains.

Watch This Story: “Your gym teacher lied to you”: 25x world record powerlifter debunks a common myth among gym goers

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Written by:

Jaishin J

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Jaishin J is an American sportswriter at EssentiallySports. He has a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. Jaishin holds a Master's degree in Journalism and has honed his skills as a content creator during his one year as a Jr Content Executive and five years as a freelance content writer and video producer.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa

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