Los Angeles, California, USA
Lisa Lyon competed only once in her brief bodybuilding career, but what she lacked in competitive longevity, she more than made up for in helping the women’s side of the sport gain initial media attention.
Lyon studied art at the University of California at Los Angeles, and became accomplished in kendo, the Japanese art of fencing. It was her need of added upper-body strength for kendo that brought her to weight training and, eventually, bodybuilding.
After winning the first IFBB Women’s World Pro Bodybuilding Championships in Los Angeles on June 16, 1979, Lyon immediately became a one-woman media-relations activist on behalf of the sport. She appeared in all the bodybuilding publications of the time and was featured in many magazines outside the world of fitness and muscle.
She made the rounds on the television talk shows and wrote a book on weight training for women titled Lisa Lyon’s Body Magic, which was published in 1981. Although Lyon briefly served as unofficial chairperson for women’s bodybuilding in its infancy, her fondest desire was to explore bodybuilding as an artistic medium.
Elevating bodybuilding to the level of fine art, Lyon was photographed by the likes of Helmut Newton and Robert Mapplethorpe, and was the first female bodybuilder to appear in Playboy (October 1980).