Generation Iron Iris Kyle Champ

Are Iris Kyle’s achievements on par or greater than Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney?

Once again Iris Kyle has achieved greatness winning her tenth consecutive Ms. Olympia title. In a sport focused predominantly on men, Kyle’s achievements are nothing to scoff at. In fact, with regards to first place Olympia wins, this puts her in a class all her own. She has walked away with the title of Ms. Olympia more times than any of the male champions past or present. Despite that however, eight time winners Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman are perhaps more widely associated with being the all time greats of the Olympia competition. So the question is simple: should Iris Kyle’s achievements be considered on par with Coleman and Haney’s eight consecutive wins?

The simple answer is yes. No woman has been able to capture the title of champion as many times as Kyle and unlike Ronnie Coleman, who continued to compete even after tying Lee Haney’s record eight wins, Kyle has decided to call it quits and go out on top. Coleman’s continued pursuit of breaking the record of Haney in no way tarnishes his legacy, but you have to wonder what the landscape would’ve looked like had he decided to retire as champion. The idea of victory and defeat resides in any competitive sport. Some might say a loss in anything is inevitable. But the idea of not only retiring as champion but ending the road on a hot streak makes for a compelling story line no matter how you approach it.

Iris Kyle is a special athlete, no doubt about that. But the fact that she competes in a sport dominated by male athletes with such polarizing personalities like Phil Heath and Kai Greene, it’s easy to see how her big win could go under the radar. The truth of the matter is she’s the winning-est bodybuilder out there and that’s just speaking facts. No other pro bodybuilder, man or woman, has captured ten consecutive Olympia championships. Some may point out that the level of competition is also a major factor. It can be argued that men like Haney, Coleman, and Heath are up against such tough competition that their victories are all the more impressive. But in reality the idea of Kyle getting easy wins is pulling at straws and has no merit. Kyle is up against stiff competition herself, beating out the likes of Alina Popa and Debi Laszewski, women of exceptional bodybuilding talent in their own right.

What seems to be the case then – is that female bodybuilding always gets the second tier spotlight. When people think of the word Olympia, they think of Mr. Olympia first – not Ms. Olympia. Regardless of the competition, the title of Ms. Olympia just draws less attention – no matter how many times Kyle has claimed the champion trophy. Yes, of course these are two different divisions but why can’t we see Iris Kyle’s name up there with Haney or Coleman? Why do all eyes have to be on Mr. Olympia alone? We’d love to say that Kyle’s achievements will set the groundwork for the future of Ms. Olympia – but with the category getting removed from many big events, it sadly seems unlikely.

In the end, the achievements of Kyle, Coleman, and Haney are all worthy of equal merit. Whether you believe Kyle’s to be greater or worse is a matter of opinion. What can’t be denied is the passion and drive the three of them possessed to become multiple time champions in a sport that’s less than forgiving.

Do you think Iris Kyle’s wins are equivalent to Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney’s great achievements? Let us know in the comments below or sound off on Facebook and Twitter.

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.