Abbye “Pudgy” Eville Stockton (1917-2006)
When Abbye Eville wanted to shed some pounds, her then-boyfriend Les Stockton encouraged her to lift weights by gifting her a pair of dumbbells and soon the pair were regulars at Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach. The “Queen of the Barbelles” quickly became the poster-girl of fitness, and her childhood nickname, “Pudgy,” became a misnomer.
In the 1940s, she opened the first all women’s gym in the United States. In 1944, Stockton began writing a regular column on women’s training, “Barbelles”, in Strength & Health magazine, then the most influential fitness magazine in the world.
She also helped organize the first sanctioned weightlifting contests for women. The first of these contests with a sanction from the Amateur Athletic Union was held on February 28, 1947 at the Southwest Arena in Los Angeles. In that contest, Stockton pressed 100 pounds, snatched 105 pounds, and clean and jerked 135 pounds.
Standing at just 5’1” and 115lbs, “Pudgy” was recognized for bringing femininity and beauty to a male-dominated sport and reclassifying what it meant to be a strongwoman. She was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2000.