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Meet the World’s Strongest 78-Year-old Grandmother, Willie Murphy

78-year-old Willie Murphy first began lifting weights four years ago, starting with five pound dumbbells. Today, the grandmother from Rochester, New York can deadlift 215 pounds and she was even named the 2014 Lifter of the Year by the World Natural Powerlifting Federation! Murphy, who can easily do one-handed push-ups and pull-ups, also took home titles at the WNPF World Championships for deadlift, power curl, and bench press — and she weighs only 105 pounds.

Murphy’s interest in weight lifting began after the YMCA where she works out organized an amateur competition. When she asked if she could compete, an employee told her “Go for it, granny” and she began training. Entirely self-taught, Murphy soon began lifting three times a week and participating in more competitions. And, she laughs at the reactions of people at competitions: “The audience will say ‘Ooh, that old lady, is she lifting?’”


“I never used the word ‘I can’t’,” Murphy says. “I would just simply say, ‘I will try.’” She credits powerlifting to helping her stay independent as she ages: “I’m not being pushed around in a wheelchair, I can shovel my own snow. And I can push my car if it gets stuck in the snow… my grandchildren, I can lift them up without any problem, and best of all, I don’t need any help when I’m carrying my groceries….You see, that’s what this is about, it’s about life.”

To watch an interview with Murphy and see her lift, visit the Democrat & Chronicle at


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