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Karyn Marshall

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Karyn Marshall
Residence New Jersey
Nationality Flag usa.gif United States
Ethnicity Norwegian descent
Alma mater Columbia University
NY Chiropractic
Occupation Chiropractor
Years active 1990–present
Height 5 feet 10 inches
Medal record
Women's Weightlifting
World Championship
Gold World competition 1987 +75 kg[1]
Silver Jakarta (INA) 1988 +75 kg[2]
Silver Manchester (GBR) 1989 +75 kg[2]
Silver Sarajevo (YUG) 1990 +75 kg[2]
National Championship
Gold Los Angeles (USA) 1989 +82.5 kg[1]
Gold Oklahoma City (USA) 1989 Women's heavyweight[3]
Gold Empire State Games (USA) 1999 +82.5 kg[4]
Karyn Marshall was inducted into the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame in Columbus, Ohio in March 2011. Arnold Schwarzenegger (left) presented the award.
Lifting barbells at the 1987 world weightlifting competition in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Karyn in the 1990s.

Dr. Karyn Marshall, DC, (born 1956 in Miami, Florida) is an American Olympic weightlifter of Norwegian descent who is notable for being world champion in 1987.[1][2] She set 60 American and world records in women's weightlifting and is the first woman in history to clean and jerk over 300 lb (136 kg).[5] She became a doctor of chiropractic and runs a private practice in Shrewsbury, New Jersey[6] while battling breast cancer since 2011.[7] In 2011, Marshall was inducted into the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.[2]

Early years

Marshall was born in a Miami hospital but grew up in Coral Gables, Florida, but the family moved north to Yonkers, New York in the 1960s.[6] She attended Bronxville High School and excelled in field hockey (she was goalie) and basketball (center), graduating in 1974.[6] She earned a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University in 1980[6][8] and was a Dean's List student.[1] She worked as a nurse for six months but changed her mind saying there "were a lot of frustrations."[1] She worked as a financial analyst at the Wall Street brokerage firm of P. R. Herzig and Company for ten years.[1][6]


Marshall began training in 1978.[8] She was coached by talented weightlifters such as Arthur Drechsler.[9] Marshall's first competition was the qualifying meet for the 1979 Empire State Games in White Plains, New York.[6] She won her first national championship in 1981.[8] During the 1980s, Marshall won her weight class six times out of seven and set 45 national records. In 1984, she made it into the Guinness Sports Record Book with a 289-pound (131 kg) clean and jerk, an Olympic event featuring a two-stage lift of a barbell above one's head. This lift topped the former record held by Sandwina.[6] In 1984, she was recognized as the world record holder for women's weightlifting in the 82.5 kg category, based on her results from a competition in Florida.[10] In 1985, Marshall lifted 303 pounds (137 kg) in the clean-and-jerk lift.[11] In 1986 at the inaugural women's world championships in Daytona Beach, she won three gold medals.[6] By 1987, a year described as being the first year in which there was an official recorded world championship for women,[12] Marshall won the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championship.[13] She was described as the "top American finisher" in the 181¾ pound weight class.[14] In 1988, she was listed in the New York Times roster of champions for women's weightlifting in the 82.5 kg category.[15] In 1989, she won the women's heavyweight division by lifting a total of 507 pounds (230 kg).[16]

Marshall won silver medals in international competitions—Jakarta (1988), Manchester (1989) and Sarajevo (1990).[17] In 1989, Marshall won the women's heavyweight division lifting a total of 507 pounds (230 kg).[3] In 1999, Marshall won a gold medal in the open division middle heavyweight division (+75 kg or +165¼ pounds).[4] She is an eight‑time United States Weightlifting Federation (USWF) champion and New York State record holder for the United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF). She is the first woman in history to snatch over 200 pounds.[18] A snatch is the other Olympic event in which a barbell is raised from a platform to locked arms overhead in a smooth continuous movement, pulled as high as possible, typically to mid chest height. Marshall holds the IWF World Record for the snatch lift at 248 lb (112 kg).[8]

The most exciting moment...was being the last American to lift at the 1987 Women's World Championship. The Chinese had dominated the competition, winning each of the other weight classes, and I was the last American hope. Lifting the most weight of the competition and winning three gold medals for myself, my team and my country was a most intense feeling.
Karyn Marshall, 1989[8][19]

In 1991, in a send-off of the United States team to the Olympics, Marshall set "Festival records for the snatch (198 1/4), clean and jerk (264 1/2) and total (462 3/4) at 181 3/4 pounds."[20] By 1991, she had won a total of one world championship (1987), 63 American records, and 8 world records.[21] She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Joan Rivers Show, ESPN, CNN, and various other prime time news and sports broadcasts.[21] In 2011, she became a coach at CrossFit in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.[22]

Marshall began studying to be a doctor of chiropractic at the New York Chiropractic College based on her successful experiences as a patient.[6][21] She attributed much of her success in weightlifting to chiropractic because it steered her away from painkillers and towards drug-free and non-surgical forms of treatment and prevention, she said in an interview.[21] She explained her decision to become a chiropractor allowed her to "stay involved in health and fitness, while at the same time being able to use my knowledge and experience to help other people."[21]

During these years, Marshall continued to compete in weightlifting events; in 2006, competing at age 50, she set three records in the women’s 50–54 category.[23] The first two records came in the snatch and clean and jerk events, and her total of 143 kilograms (315 lb) set a record.[23] She also was described as having bench-pressed 238 pounds (108 kg), and made a "475 pound [215 kg] dead lift".[21]

After competing in several weightlifting events at the CrossFit Games in summer 2011, Marshall took a 15–minute ice-bath to speed recovery time, reduce soreness and inflammation. In the past, she had combined ice baths with saunas. She described the ice bath experience:

The hardest part was the first two minutes. Others who do it often told me to 'just hang in for two minutes' then it would be easier. After two minutes I was numb. Afterwards I was shivering for about two hours in the hot California sun with a warm up jacket on.
Karyn Marshall, CrossFit Games, 2011

Picture gallery


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Julie Carft (July 29, 1989). "Image is Heavy Burden - Weightlifter Karyn Marshall Feels Pressure to Project 'Femininity, Intelligence'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Nicole Jomantas (March 5, 2011). "Karyn Marshall, Tara Cunningham and Shane Hamman to Enter the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Results Plus". The New York Times. July 29, 1989. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Open Division -- Women's Event -- Mid Hvwt". Empire State Games. 1999-07-22. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  5. "References about setting world records". 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Lidz, Franz (March 21, 1988). "A Lift For Wall Street". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  7. Stephanie Sy (September 26, 2012). "World's Strongest Woman Fights Breast Cancer With Exercise: The 56-year-old former world weightlifting champion, Karyn Marshall, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer last year. After undergoing treatment, she quickly returned to her gym in New Jersey, where she found physical, emotional, and mental strength.". Everyday Health. Retrieved October 10, 2010. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 ___ (February 1991). "Weightlifter turns to chiropractic". The Chiropractic Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  9. Press release (August 23, 2006). "What Did You Do This Summer? New York City’s Youth Trained In Parks By Professional Athletes". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  10. "International Federations". LA 84 Foundation -- Olympic Information Center. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  11. "On this day...a 23 of March ....somewhere in time ....". Xtratime Community. 1985. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  12. "The History of Weightlifting". 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  13. Hickok. "Sports History". Hickok Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  14. Michael Janofsky (November 16, 1987). "Olympic Notebook: 7 Unlikely Nations Join Winter Games". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  15. "1988: The Year in Sports". The New York Times. December 26, 1988. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  16. Barry Wilner, AP sports writer (July 29, 1989). "Weightlifter, Diver Grab Spotlight—BYU's Courtney Nelson Wins Women's Platform Diving Preliminaries". Deseret News -- Salt Lake City. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  17. "Weigntlifting: Medalists from previous World Championships - Women - Total". The official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  18. Editorial Staff (1991-02-15). "A Lift for Chiropractic". Dynamic Chiropractic. 
  19. Robert McG. Thomas Jr. (1989-12-11). "Sports World Specials: Weight Lifting; The Strongest Women On the Planet - Again". The New York Times. 
  20. Scott Howard-Cooper (July 22, 1991). "U.S. Olympic Festival Los Angeles 1991—Weightlifting—Team Gets Special Send-Off". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 Ann E. Sudekum, Associate Editor (June 1992). "The Olympics and sports chiropractic: World Champion Weightlifter Studies to Become Chiropractor (page 35 of pdf file; page 37 of numbered journal pages)". ACA Journal of Chiropractic. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  22. Andréa Maria Cecil (March 3, 2011). "Hear Her Roar". CrossFit Journal. Retrieved 2010-03-03. "...Karyn Marshall ... has joined CrossFit Shrewsbury in New Jersey as a member and coach." 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Master Sgt. Steve Miller (2006-04-13). "Stout hosts U.S. Masters weightlifting championships". Sports. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 

External links