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Women's Bodybuilding Megan Avalon

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

IFBB Pro Nancy Lewis' Retirement Letter

To Fellow Female IFBB Pro Competitors & Other Acquaintances:

In the later part of last year you heard me speak out regarding derogatory remarks against female bodybuilders. The individuals that made these disturbing remarks are what shocked me most, bringing me to try and take some sort of action. These remarks were plastered in paper on print for the entire world to see. Nothing can erase the words of arrogance or hurt caused by a few minimal individuals. One in which is soon to be married to a female bodybuilder and the other is simply a competitor that has close to never cracked a top 10 at a pro show.

Nonetheless I took a stance writing to the IFBB sending certified letters to anyone who would listen and to all the addresses I had available. After nearly a month in a half I get a response from Mr. Jim Manion stating that this sort of bashing each other is normal in bodybuilding and that the men do it to each other all the time. He referenced the names Craig Titus and King Kamali. That was it. That was all he said on the issue and nothing was done to these certain individuals.

This issue floored me and made me realize my 15 years as an IFBB Female Pro athlete was in serious question. I set and think about the lack of respect we get not just from our fellow brothers in the sport but also from the Pro Federation we are representing. A federation that makes money off of us regardless of how much money they say they loose holding woman's events.

I believe with the lack of support, the disgraceful differences in prize money and lack of shows will not change any time soon. I can say that I am grateful to Mrs. Betty Pariso for standing up for all the female bodybuilders. She has truly made a difference and I personally thank you Betty. However, neither Betty nor I could do this effort on our own. We needed support from all the female bodybuilders to come together to make a difference. I wrote to every female athlete I knew and many I never met. I can honestly say less then three individuals wrote me back about getting together to form a meeting. How terribly heart breaking that was for me to realize the new generation of female bodybuilders had succumb to and accept the way the female bodybuilder is being treated today.

Even today I look through the fitness magazines and read of our male pro counter parts talking about how much money they have, how big there home is, or about there latest sports car they added to there collection due to there endorsement deals etc. This makes me look around and see how proud I am of myself and what I myself have accomplished. I look around and see a beautiful home on land, cars, horses, dogs and a happy life with my long time partner Melissa. Now, did any endorsement deals get these things for me? Or did any IFBB female pro show earnings get me these things.???

Well we all know the answer's NO.

I feel I have put many, many years into the sport I love like many other female pro athletes. Years ago as I entered the sport there was promise and future in the sport. Today looking at the sport the IFBB has portrayed us as sideshow events with little to no respect at all. The minimal advances of the MS. O being moved back to the night show yes is a great step forward. But I ask you should it have been moved at all to the expo? I also ask is a photo op in this month issue of flex of the Men's Rep on his knees in front of Betty supposed to erase the verbal abuse that was spoken in internationally sold magazines??

This year I planned on doing the Ms. International at the ASC as last year I had to pull out of the show due to a serious torn quad tendon. As many other female athletes had I sent in my dues and request for an invite and was obviously not chosen for an invite. This was my last blow given as a Pro athlete. However, I was shocked to see on the men's side that year after year many of the same men are chosen to compete in this event, and these same men are known to be drug users (recreational) and coming into shows consistently out of shape. But they can ride the coat tails and are guaranteed an invite no matter of there inconsistencies.

For the sport I love I will always hope there will be bigger and better things for the female bodybuilders of today and tomorrow. There are individuals like Betty & Ed Pariso whom not only put up there time but there own personal money to continue to give the woman more shows and money. I congratulate the both of them.

As for myself I have come to understand the veterans of old are either accepting the treatment of our sport or not willing to come together as a whole. For the younger generation I must understand that I was once there long ago as a new pro or up and comer and really did not want to shake the boat. The problem is one day there might not be any boat to shake if something is not done very soon.

I have decided to retire effective immediately from my professional competitive career from the IFBB and have sent the appropriate letters to inform the federation of this. Today I only write this letter to the few female pro athletes/friends I respect and have competed with for years and wish them all good health and best of wishes with there lives both personally and professionally. I would also like to thank Mr. Steve Wennerstrom, Bill Dobbins, James and Gene at FT.Video for always portraying me and many other female athletes in such a beautiful, eloquent way for so many years. As well as there continuous support of the female athlete.

Best of wishes to all of you in somehow finally coming together to make a change for yourself and others in the sport we all love.


Nancy Lewis

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