When the 1989 Ms. Olympia winner, Cory Everson, stepped onto the Olympia stage for the first time, she dwarfed the reigning Ms. O. Had Everson continued to compete into the 1990 season, the same thing would have happened to her- though she would have towered over Lenda Murray, Everson would have been standing four inches taller than Murray at the same weight. Lenda Murray represented a watershed change in the appearance of Ms. Olympia.
Prior to Murray, the female bodybuilding world played heavily to the “feminine” aspect of women’s bodybuilding, and judged “manly” physiques harshly. With the arrival of Lenda Murray on the pro stage, however, the promoters were going to have to reconsider their criteria. At 5’5” and 150-153lbs, Murray’s physique still managed to be “feminine” while at the same time being brutally thick.
Boasting one of the most phenomenal shoulder-to-waist ratios ever recorded, Murray’s front lat spread represents one of the best ever, male or female, and was eclipsed only by best unreal separation and full-bellied musculature of her back. From 1990-1997, Murray won six straight Olympias, retired, then came out of retirement to win it two more times and take runner up three times.
With eight Olympia titles, she is on par with Ronnie Coleman for Olympia wins, and second to Iris Kyle for the winningest Olympia competitor. Though perhaps not definitively the best female bodybuilder in history, she is certainly strongly in the conversation for top three. She was also bodybuilding’s last “commercially marketable” female athlete, as the division between fitness models and bodybuilders in terms of size and muscularity went from a small rift to a vast gulf.