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The Bodybuilding World Reacts To The Passing of Tonya Knight

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By Roger “Rock” Lockridge

Former IFBB Women’s Bodybuilder Tonya Knight passed away on Feb. 7, 2023 at the age of 56 due to cancer. The Kansas native that called Missouri home at the time of her passing was one of the most popular athletes in the sport during her career, which spanned from the 1980’s as both an amateur and professional until her last onstage appearance in 1993 – the Jan Tana Pro Classic, where she placed third. She won two shows in her pro career – the 1991 Ms. International during the Arnold Classic, and the Grand Prix Italy. Knight had initially won the 1989 Ms. International as well, but she was disqualified over a controversial drug test. She competed in the Ms. Olympia once, placing fourth in 1988.

30 years after her retirement, Knight was still admired from within the bodybuilding community, and many athletes shared their thoughts and condolences regarding her passing.

“Sorry to hear about the passing of our dear Tonya. She made muscles a thing of beauty.”

- Lee Haney, Eight-time Mr. Olympia

“So sad to hear the passing of Tonya Knight. She was a great athlete and great person.”

- Rich Gaspari, 1989 Arnold Classic Champion

“Today is a very very sad day, where we say goodbye to Tonya Knight, the most beautiful Angel we were blessed with on Earth and now an Angel in Heaven. I don’t know if Tonya ever really knew the enormous impact she had on this world. I believe she was too humble to really know. She was respected by man and woman alike, athlete and non-athlete, competitor and non-competitor. Tonya’s appeal reached the masses with her beauty, her talent, her silly personality, her charm, her drive, and her gentle and humble nature.”

- Cory Everson, Six-time Ms. Olympia

“Tonya Knight, my dear friend and one of bodybuilding’s brightest and most precious stars is now resting easy.  Even when she was suffering in ways that most of us could not imagine, she constantly reached out, texted, called, and kept in touch to update us about her struggle with ‘C’ and to make sure we were taking care of ourselves.  She was a mom, a daughter, sister, exceptional athlete, and friend to so many who adored her. But above all else, she was kind, loving, and forgiving to her core.”

- Rachel McLish, First Ms. Olympia and two-time champion.

As of this article’s publication, no word on funeral arrangements have been made public. Everyone at Muscle Insideralso extends their condolences to Knight’s family and fans.

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