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Iris Kyle, Ms. Olympia

Submitted by IFBB Pro League Staff
2007 Ms. Olympia
*photograph courtesy of Weider Publications

The Bodybuilder, the Woman
3x Ms. Olympia
3x Ms. International

Iris Kyle was born on August 22, 1974 in Benton Harbor, Michigan; the second youngest of six siblings (four brothers and one sister).

Iris attended Benton Harbor High and continued her education at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, where she received her Associates Degree, majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Accounting.  In the pursuit of opportunities in the Health and Fitness industry, Iris relocated to Orange County, California.  She now resides in Houston, Texas.

When asked about her athletic background, Iris exclaims, "You name it; I’ve played it … or at least tried to play it!"  Iris continues, "I’ve always led a fit, healthy lifestyle from an early age; running cross-country for cardiovascular fitness [which was the key to staying in shape during the off-season she exclaims] and playing Basketball and Softball."  In actual fact, Iris may be understating somewhat her athletic prowess and accomplishments.  During her high-school years, she was a three-time All-State, All-American point guard in Basketball and named "Fastest Shortstop" in Softball.  Because of her outstanding athletic abilities, Iris received numerous offers from various colleges.

Iris’ move to the west coast placed her smack dab in the middle of health-and-fitness conscious California and the abundance of fitness gyms, health clubs and wellness centers that dotted the landscape throughout the Golden State.  Constantly surrounded by fit, healthy-looking people, Iris began to visualize herself with a more highly-trained, muscularly-sculpted physique.  One day about thirteen years ago, as Iris recalls, she walked into a gym and took out a membership.  "I distinctly remember being a bit overwhelmed with the facilities and the seemingly endless variety of training equipment," says Iris.  "But I knew at that exact moment … without feeling even the slightest doubt … that I could develop the kind of physique I wanted."  This visualization technique, so important to elite athletes, was to serve Iris well in the coming years.

Some time later, Iris was hired by the same club and, as an employee, even more opportunities presented themselves for training, learning and growth.  The more Iris trained; the greater was her thirst for knowledge.  She became a voracious reader of FLEX, Muscle and Fitness, Iron Man and other like-minded magazines, soaking up knowledge like the proverbial sponge.

Iris observes, "In the beginning, I wasn’t 100% sure where exactly I wanted to go with my physique.  At the same time, I knew I had the potential – the determination, commitment and work ethics – to be an elite athlete."  Then, a picture in a magazine changed Iris’ life forever.

2006 Ms. Olympia
*photograph courtesy of Weider Publications

"I remember the first time I saw a photograph of Lenda Murray in a magazine.  I was in complete awe," recalls Iris.  "I cut out that picture and placed it on my refrigerator and, from that point on, my goal was to develop a physique like hers."

With her "ideal" physique in mind, Iris stepped up her training to a whole new level and became a woman possessed; hammering away at the weights almost non-stop; honing her nutritional and dietary knowledge.  She quickly began receiving constant positive feedback from friends, co-workers and other people in the gym.

Then one day, a local promoter was in the gym and, after sizing Iris up, suggested she enter a competition he was doing in 10 weeks, the Long Beach Muscle Classic.   Iris recalls, "I used the contest as a focal point; as further incentive to train even harder … to work on my diet and to practice bodybuilding movements and posing routines."  Iris remembers the feeling as she waited backstage at her first amateur contest.  "I thought, what the heck did I get myself into?  Am I really going to walk onstage in a bikini, in front of an audience of strangers, and pose?"  She continues, "I knew it was too late to back down, so I adjusted my oversize posing suit and went for it."  Iris won that show and really never looked back. "I thought I’d just conquered the world," says Iris.

In 1998, Iris’ dedication and commitment paid off big time with a Heavyweight and Overall win at the prestigious NPC USA Championships.  Says Iris, "Winning a show that allows only one female bodybuilder to earn an IFBB Pro card, and knowing that on that night I was that one person from among so many gifted athletes, was absolutely huge for me.  I was floating on clouds for weeks after that!"

As one phase of Iris’ competitive career ended, another began with Iris now concentrating on the professional stage.  At her first pro show, Iris recalls, "I felt very much in control; I wasn’t intimidated.  Backstage, the other competitors were like the amateurs I’d competed against – very talkative, playful and helpful towards one another.  Then, we went onstage and the game changed significantly."

Says Iris, "The battle was brutal; the mindset of the female pro bodybuilder is something I had never witnessed or experienced.  Every single one of these competitors believed and acted like they had a lock on first place.  I learned quickly that to stand toe-to-toe with them, I had to be 100% in control and to be just as aggressively competitive."

2004 Ms. Olympia
*photograph courtesy of Weider Publications

Several years would pass, with Iris competing annually in the Ms. International and Ms. Olympia, before she would secure her first professional win, which came at the 2001 Ms. Olympia where she captured the Heavyweight title.  Recalls Iris, "When I heard my name announced in first place, I was elated.  And I immediately thought to myself, winning the overall Olympia is just moments away.  But it didn’t happen as I’d hoped."  Indeed, Juliette Bergmann, who had returned to the competitive stage after an 11-year absence and who had earlier captured the Lightweight class, ended up winning the Overall title.  Looking back, Iris maintains "I sincerely believe that I was the rightful 2001 Overall Ms. Olympia.  I’m not saying Juliette didn’t display a nice overall package; I’m just saying I believe my physique was better."

In 2002, 6-time Ms. Olympia Lenda Murray, after having last competed in 1995, would return from retirement to once again capture the Ms. Olympia crown.  Lenda would  repeat this feat in 2003.  On both occasions, Iris ended up in second place behind her idol.  Iris remembers, "As I’ve said before, Lenda is an icon and a legend.  Just to stand onstage with her was absolutely amazing; something I never dreamed I’d get the chance to do."

Iris learned a very valuable lesson in the aftermath of her two defeats to Murray.  "After losing to Lenda, I knew my ‘A’ game had to be three times better than her ‘A’ game.  Like they say, it’s tough to beat the reigning champ on points alone; you pretty much have to knock her out!"  It’s clear that Iris was growing frustrated at playing second fiddle … always the bridesmaid, never the bride, as they say.  However, in 2004, any and all doubts of Iris’ ability to rise to the top of her chosen profession would finally be laid to rest.

Iris started off the year with a bang at the prestigious Ms. International, winning the Heavyweight category against Yaxeni Oriquen and then capturing the Overall title against Lightweight winner Dayana Cadeau.  Later that year, at the 2004 Ms. Olympia, Iris found herself for the third time in as many years standing onstage, holding hands with Lenda, nervously awaiting the announcement of the winner of the Heavyweight class.  "It seemed like the announcer was taking forever.  Then I heard Lenda’s name called out for second place and I felt my heart racing a hundred miles an hour.  I knew I’d won.  I had beaten a legend.  It was such an unbelievable high."  Iris would go on to best Dayana Cadeau again for the Overall Ms. Olympia title.  She was finally there … at the pinnacle of her sport.

2007 Ms. International
*photograph courtesy of Weider Publications

In 2005, Iris decided to skip the Ms. International and concentrate on defending her Olympia title.  Unfortunately for Iris, Yaxeni was having her best year ever, winning the Ms. International and then, with the contest reverting to one open category again [the event was split into two categories from 2000 to 2004], taking the Olympia title as well.

Iris would return with a vengeance the following two years.  In 2006, she would beat Dayana and Yaxeni to take the Ms. International.  Later that year, she would best Dayana to regain her Olympia title.  In 2007, she would edge out Yaxeni for the Ms. International and then triumph over Dayana and Yaxeni again to win her third Olympia title.   Says Iris proudly, "I don’t take anything for granted.  Every win is like my very first; the same adrenaline rush and the feeling of having conquered the entire world."

Iris isn’t too far off.  In the 28-year history of the Ms. Olympia, only three other competitors, Cory Everson, Lenda Murray and Kim Chizevsky, have won more times.  Iris is in great company. 


Disappointments: "I handle disappointments like stepping stones to personal growth, character development and maturity.  I treat people with kindness and respect.  I believe God will never give you more than you can handle."

Training and Nutrition: "Treat the body right.  Stick to basic exercises.  Keep yourself injury-free by training your body not your ego.  You are what you eat so be wise when selecting foods. If it’s got more than 5 ingredients, it’s probably not the optimum choice."

2006 Ms. International
*photograph courtesy of Weider Publications

Favorite Food: "Sushi, sushi, and more sushi!  Also, Thai food and steamed rice."

Least Favorite Food: "Steak and potatoes.  I’m not crazy about dairy products either."

Favorite Movies: "Comedy, action and love stories.  ‘How Stella Got Her Groove On’ is my all-time favorite."

Favorite TV Show: "Law & Order".

Favorite Music: "R & B, Jazz and Sensible Rap."

Hobbies: "Shopping, shopping and more shopping.  Also, rollerblading, biking, long walks, running on the beach, and traveling the world."

Short-term Goals: "Defending my Ms. Olympia title."

Long-term Goals: "Winning the most Ms. Olympia titles ever!  I also want to promote my own bodybuilding and fitness contest; open a training camp to prepare athletes for competition; and travel the world speaking about health and fitness."

Competing in the IFBB Pro League: "Coming up through the ranks, most everyone I ran into spoke positively about the IFBB and its long history.  People would say, ‘If you really want to be at the elite level in the sport of bodybuilding … if you really want to compete against the best in the world … you’ve got to do it as an IFBB athlete.’  I’m proud to be part of such a prestigious organization."


When asked about her support network, Iris is very proud to proclaim, "God is my mentor.  He has given me all that I have … the passion, perseverance and patience to endure the challenges set before me.  I know as long as I keep the faith, He will look out for my best interests."  Iris continues, "I have many many wonderful people in my life … too many to mention here.  I know in my heart that, without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today."

2004 Ms. International
*photograph courtesy of Weider Publications

"My dearest family are my #1 fans.  They’ve followed my every move throughout my amateur and professional career.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Special thanks to my sponsors, Goldfield ‘the Muscle-Maker’, from the Netherlands.  They’re absolutely wonderful.  Roland Walliser, my personal photographer, a kind heart and soul.  My loving FRIENDS, who think it’s an honor being my friend when, in reality, I’m the one who’s privileged to have each and every one of them in my life.  Yoanka Arimendez, Susanne Bock and her husband Thorsten, Patrick Lynn, Teresa Dinh, Juan Minero, Erin Sherouse, Martin Alravez, Jeff Lowe, Marcella Grahams.  And John Sherman … words cannot begin to describe this man’s kind heart, enduring patience and iron will … having him as part of my life is icing on the cake."

1994 Ironmaiden Championships – 2nd (MW)
1996 Orange County Muscle Classic – 1st (HW and Overall)
1996 NPC California – 1st (HW and Overall)
1996 NPC USA Championships – 2nd (HW)
1997 NPC USA Championships – 3rd (HW)
1997 NPC Nationals – 4th (HW)
1998 NPC USA Championships – 1st (HW and Overall)
1999 IFBB Ms. International – 15th
1999 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 4th
1999 IFBB Pro World Championship – 2nd
2000 IFBB Ms. International – disqualified
2000 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 5th (HW)
2001 IFBB Ms. International – 2nd (HW)
2001 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 1st (HW)
2002 IFBB Ms. International – 2nd (HW)
2002 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd (HW)
2002 IFBB GNC Show of Strength – 2nd (HW)
2003 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd (HW)
2004 IFBB Ms. International – 1st (HW and Overall)
2004 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 1st (HW and Overall)
2005 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
2006 IFBB Ms. International – 1st
2006 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 1st
2007 IFBB Ms. International – 1st
2007 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 1st
2008 IFBB Ms. International – 7th

VISIT IrisKyle.com!

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