Willie Murphy, 82, is definitely not your regular grandma. Her strength amazes people. She won the World Natural Powerlifting Federation of the Year award in 2014. She holds the national records in the bench for reps, the strict curl and Ironmaiden categories.
She holds the New York state and national records across multiple WNPF age brackets. Murphy doesn’t need ammonia, belts, or enhancement drugs.
“Everybody is not able to power lift,” Murphy said. “A lot of older people, they’re into swimming, yoga, tai chi, various other things. But I guess I’m just unusual because I’m into natural powerlifting.”
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The entertaining and affable grandma is loved by many, who find her kind of strength and tenacity rare. “Hopefully I’m able to change the attitude about how it is just to work out,” Murphy said.
According to ESPN, there aren’t any women close to Murphy’s age for her to train with and she has never worked with a trainer. “I was surprised that people were thinking that it was strange of me to be in the gym with mostly men at that particular time,” Murphy said.
“But I kept getting stronger and stronger and I don’t wear any belts, I don’t use chalk and I don’t use the ammonia like other people when they compete in a competition. It just happened. I guess I’m just one of those things that nature has taken good care of me.”
Murphy works out three days a week at a local YMCA around 6am. She holds several state records in the 70s age brackets. The WNPF said it had to create a new age category, just for her when Murphy turned 80.
Last year, 82-year old Murphy’s strength and prowess caught international attention when a man broke into her Rochester, New York, home. The award-winning builder said she was getting ready for bed when a man began hitting on her door, urging her to call an ambulance for him.
According to her, he became angry and broke through the door. “It’s kind of semi-dark and I’m alone, and I’m old. But guess what, I’m tough,” she
“I took that table and I went to working on him,” she said. “And guess what? The table broke.” Murphy said she used the metal legs of the table to keep hitting him. She then jumped on him a couple of times.
As the man tried to get up, Murphy said she reached to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of baby shampoo and spewed it on the man’s face. As if that was not enough, she said she took a broom and hit him some more.
“He wants to get the heck out of there. And I’m trying to help him get out of the house, but he’s too heavy. I can’t move him. He’s dead weight,” she said. Officers soon arrived and the man was sent to the hospital.
Murphy was applauded by first responders. “The officers that came wanted to go on my front porch and take selfies with me,” she said.
Murphy, who worked with the New York state government for 40 years, spends most of her free time working out, watching television and volunteering at her local health clinic.
She goes to the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center in Rochester once a month to help older people exercise with simple resources such as chairs and steps. “Hopefully I’m able to change the attitude about how it is just to work out,” she said.
Murphy is said to remain the lone octogenarian competing at WNPF meets. “Young people want to take the selfies with me,” she said. “That makes me feel kind of good.”
Beyond training and competing, Murphy encourages others to see the value in exercise at any age. She gives inspirational speeches and has attended national health conferences, where she is known to challenge doctors to pushup contests.
Watch Murphy talk about her power lifting in this video that has over one million views: