Meet Ms. Muscle… April Atkins, The World’s Strongest Seventh Grader (In 1954)

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In the mid-1950s on California’s famed Muscle Beach, there was one individual who “routinely blew minds” by performing “utterly improbable feats of strength.” Her name was April Atkins, and unlike the adult strongmen who flocked to this birthplace of the physical fitness boom, she was only in the seventh grade and weighed just 79-pounds. And among those giants, little Ms. Muscle proved herself to be the strongest girl in the world.

From carrying the weight of four adults, the equivalent of 710 pounds, on her back, to holding a man’s full body weight above the sand, while hanging upside down from gymnastic rings and swinging, April became quite a sensation. In fact, a series of photos was even taken of her in 1954 by LIFE’s Loomis Dean, but they never ran in the magazine.

Beyond those photos and this film-turned-video little more is known about April, so what became of her remains a mystery. If you happen to know her or someone who did, we’d love to know more… maybe WYSK can tell the rest of her untold story.