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SHREWSBURY DOC MUSCLES HER WAY TO FAME

karyn-marshallKaryn Marshall, seen below in competition in the 1980s, will be inducted into the Weightlifting Hall of Fame next month. (Click to enlarge. Photo above by Dustin Racioppi.)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

karyn-marshall1She’s won five world championship gold medals, and was the first woman in history to clean-and-jerk more than 300 pounds over her head. She’s set 60 world and American records. She was, in 1985, dubbed by World Weightlifting Magazine “the World’s Strongest Woman.”

In the world of weightlifting, Karyn Marshall, set just about every standard for her gender.

Now, here’s another superlative she can add to her résumé: Hall of Famer.

Next month, the 54-year-old weightlifter-turned-chiropractor, who has a private practice in Shrewsbury, will be inducted into the Weightlifting Hall of Fame in York, Pennsylvania, capping an illustrious career that started with anything but promise.

“It’s just another solidification that I’ve contributed to the sport,” Marshall said, “and that feels nice.”

When Marshall got started in weightlifting, in 1978, the barriers were heavier than the weights she had to lift. It was a new sport for women, and she and other women faced scrutiny for entering an arena completely dominated by men.

“It was radical for women to be lifting heavy weights,” she said. “It was challenged. It was like, why should women lift weights?”

Marshall, who co-owns Champion Chiropractic on Broad Street, trained rabidly — not to shatter stereotypes, but to pursue her passion to “lift big, heavy weights over my head.”

“I didn’t do it to challenge men,” she said. “I did it because I loved it.”

Her love translated to records and gold medals. Lots of them.

In 1981, the first year of national championship competition for women, Marshall took home a gold medal. 1985, she was the first woman to lift, in the clean-and-jerk category, more than 300 pounds, by putting 303 over her blonde mullet (“It was the style then,” she said). When the first world championships for women were held in 1987, Marshall again snagged gold.

In 1994, Marshall, still active in professional weightlifting, founded Championship Chiropractic with her partner, Dennis Cronk. She went into the field after suffering a back injury that conventional doctors told her, two weeks before a national competition, would prevent her from participating. She went to a chiropractor for a second opinion and received a simple adjustment.

“I was fine. He fixed me and I won the nationals that year,” she said. Already licensed as a nurse, she then set out to become a chiropractor.

In the 18 years she’s been in practice, Marshall has stayed active as ever in weightlifting, albeit on an amateur level. Last year she won the national championship for her age group and will return this year seeking another title.

“I used to be the best in the world,” she said, adding with a laugh, “now I’m just good for my age.”

Her records have long been broken. Women are accepted in the world of weightlifting. She didn’t expect it to be this way from the outset, but looking back, that’s the way it had to be, she said.

“Someone had to get the ball rolling,” she said. “I think I’ve made my mark in history.”

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