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Celebrity Death

Iconic Bodybuilder Tonya Knight’s Cancer Sadly Led to Death


We are so sad to announce that the legendary figure in the world of female bodybuilding, Tonya Knight’s cancer, unfortunately, led to the star’s passing on February 7, 2023, at the age of 56.

Tonya was an inspiration to many and her death shocked the entire bodybuilding community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the legend and her family, friends, and fans during this heartbreaking period. May she rest in power.

Born on March 24, 1966, she competed as a professional in Women’s Bodybuilding and established herself as a frontrunner with excellent conditioning, thoughtful posing routines, and balanced proportions.

During her decorated tenure, she challenged royalty in the division, such as 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 contest behind only Mr. Olympia (from 1989 onwards, the Ms. International contest was a part of the annual Arnold Sports Festival). She additionally made an impression on the Olympia stage.

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After IFBB officials presented compelling evidence that Tonya had gotten test-passing urine from someone other than herself, Tonya acknowledged to sending a surrogate to submit to a mandatory drug test that was conducted prior to the 1988 M.s Olympia, where she placed fourth. She was ordered to return her $12,000 prize money from the 1989 M.s International and 1988 M.s Olympia as well as be suspended, with the 1989 M.s International title going to Jackie Paisley, who finished in second place.

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Tonya Knight’s Cancer Caused Her Death at 56

According to official sources, Tonya Knight lost her life after a long battle with cancer!

Our team does not confirm any rumors about the news, though you can be sure that we are attempting our best to find related information about the tragedy and provide the latest updates as soon as possible; but, do not forget that family privacy should be respected.

She proudly returned to the stage in 1991 after the scandal, taking home the Ms. International crown without incident. Only two more professional competitions, the last of which took place in 1993, saw her compete. From 1989 until 1992, Tonya played the part of Gold regularly on American Gladiators until she was forced to leave due to a left knee injury.

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.

In various posts shared on Instagram, the bodybuilding community reacted to her tragic death. 

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. 

Mr. Olympia Lee Haney said,“Sorry to hear about the passing of our dear Tonya. She made muscles a thing of Beauty 🙏🏽❤️”

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