Born August 11, 1917
Santa Monica, California, USA
In the 1940s, the hand-balancing maneuvers of Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton at Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach (along with her husband Les) led to her writing Strength & Health magazine’s “Barbelles” column, a monthly instructional piece for the few females then involved with weight training.
The nickname “Pudgy” came about because of some excess bodyweight in her teenage days. The moniker stuck even though, with the aid of Les, she shed and then reshaped those pounds to become the Princess of Muscle Beach.
Stockton was among the few all-arounders of the distaff side of the sport: she lifted, performed acrobatics on Muscle Beach, toured America spreading the fitness message, ran gyms with her husband, and wrote extensively trying to convert women to the wonders of weight training.
The latter was a revolutionary concept in those long-ago decades, when gyms were divided into male and female sections, and prevailing medical wisdom suggested women not lift anything heavier than a cup of afternoon tea.
Though she won a major prize of $1,000 in a 1947 contest sponsored by physique pioneer Bernarr Macfadden, her heyday preceded women’s physique contests. Although she is too humble to admit it, she holds major claim to the title “First Lady of Iron”.