Women’s Bodybuilding sensation Tonya Knight has died at 56 following a battle with cancer. News of her passing on February 7, 2023, was first made available by SNBC13.
Competing as a professional in Women’s Bodybuilding, Tonya Knight established herself as a frontrunner with excellent conditioning, thoughtful posing routines, and balanced proportions. During her decorated tenure, she challenged royalty in the division, like Anja Schreiner and six-time Ms. Olympia Cory Everson (the only female bodybuilder to ever retire undefeated)
Tonya Knight is a Ms. International champion, which at the time was the second-most prestigious Women’s Bodybuilding competition behind only the Mr. Olympia (from 1989 onwards, the Ms. International contest was a part of the annual Arnold Sports Festival). She also made an appearance on the Olympia stage.
Tonya Knight returned to the Ms. International stage in 1991 and won. This would serve as the final victory of her storied career. Her last two bodybuilding appearances came at the 1992 Ms. International in sixth place as well as a third-place finish at the 1993 Jan Tana Classic.
Iconic Women’s Bodybuilder Tonya Knight Passes Away from Cancer at 56, Bodybuilding Community Mourns
In various posts shared on Instagram, the bodybuilding community reacted to her tragic death.
After hearing of the news, eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney offered his best wishes.
“Sorry to hear about the passing of our dear Tonya. She made muscles a thing of Beauty 🙏🏽❤️” wrote Lee Haney.
In addition to her contributions to the sport, Tonya appeared on the American Gladiators TV show with popular bodybuilder Mike O’Hearn. She played the character Gold from 1989-1992 until she left due to a shoulder injury.
Tonya Knight’s Competition History
- 1984 NPC USA Championship – 11th (LHW)
- 1985 NPC USA Championship – 6th (HW)
- 1986 NPC USA Championship – 4th (HW)
- 1988 Pro World Championship – 5th
- 1988 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 4th (later disqualified)
- 1989 Ms. International – 1st (later disqualified)
- 1991 IFBB Grand Prix Italy – 1st
- 1991 Ms. International – 1st
- 1992 Ms. International – 6th
- 1993 Jan Tana Classic – 3rd
Tonya is the latest bodybuilder to lose her life to cancer. Men’s Open and Classic Physique competitor Lee Banks recently succumbed to a cancerous carcinoid tumor in his intestines as well. He died at 51 years old; his wife revealed the news just a few days ago.
Given her record of accomplishments and consistency on stage, Tonya was inducted into the IFBB Pro League Hall of Fame in 2011. Born in 1966, in Peculiar, Missouri, Knight is survived by her son Malachi. Our staff at Fitness Volt wishes her family and friends condolences.