When I saw Iris Kyle win the 1996 Orange County Muscle Classic, she was ripped and in great shape, but she did not have the muscle mass that would later allow her to win 10 Ms. Olympia titles. Obviously, she put on a lot more size fairly quickly. But being in great shape on the contest stage would always be something you came to expect of Iris. In fact, over all the years I watched her compete, I only saw her miss being in her absolute best condition once!

But at first, after Iris earned her pro card at the 1997 NPC USA Championships, she had problems impressing some pro judges. She placed 4th at the 1999 Olympia and 5th in 2000. Overlooked is an understatement. At one point, the judges didn’t even compare her to the top three in her class. Personally, I was furious. I had seen so many instances of more muscular women being denied fair treatment in the past by bodybuilding officials, but I thought at this point we had gone beyond that.

Afterward, I stood up for Iris and told her we should do a photo shoot to show everybody just how good she was. Then she sent me a fax demanding I pay her a lot of money, would only be permitted to publish images she selected, and only for certain specified uses. In all my years in the industry, nobody had ever made those kind of demands.

So, unfortunately, though I photographed Iris many times at contests and expos over the years, I never got to shoot her in the studio or in an interesting location.

Iris Kyle

Iris Kyle to Return for 2020

The 10-Time Ms. Olympia will take the stage once again.

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Bill Dobbins is a legendary bodybuilding photographer and founding editor of FLEX magazine.