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.
- Ivy Russel, born in 1907 in Croydon, England.
- Joan Rhodes, born in 1920 in England.
- Mama Lou (Linsey Lindberg), born in 1980 in Kansas, USA, who performs traditional strongwoman feats, such as ripping phone books in half.
- Betty Brawn (Charmaine Childs), born in 1979 in Australia, performs traditional and unique feats including the Human Carousel (lifts 2 or 4 adult men simultaniously with no apparant effort)
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, winner of multiple WSW competitions including the first one held in 2001
- Robin Coleman, who took 3rd place in the 2001 WSW competition
- Becca Swanson, powerlifting world record holder
- Aneta Florczyk, winner of the 2005 WSW contest
- Cynthia Morrison, Florida-based powerlifter now working as an escape artist
- Elizabeth Horne, strongwoman, armwrestler and grip strength world record holder
- Titania Rhea, Australian WPC multi record holding powerlifter and strongwoman
- Elena Seiple, NPC judge and powerlifter
- Chyna, bodybuilder and professional wrestler nicknamed "The Ninth Wonder of the World"