1987 NPC USA Heavyweight & Overall, 1989 Ms International
Jackie Paisley, one of the most beautiful and talented IFBB pro bodybuilders ever, passed away on March 17th at the age of 54, finally losing a long battle with illness.
We thought it an apt moment, as we begin a week of women who have already been crowned champions in 2017, to pay tribute to this great champion of the past.
She was from Pennsylvania originally, a cellist, educated at music conservatory and the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh before she settled in Scottsdale, Arizona after doing a joint degree in Sports Medicine and Music Performance at the state university. She was competing at national level as a bodybuilder by the mid-80s, and didn't have to wait long for her pro card, winning Heavyweight and Overall titles at the NPC USAs in 1987, first in a field of 50+.
She went on to shine very brightly, but all too briefly, as a pro. 3rd at her first Ms International in 1988, she returned the following year to finish runner-up to Tonya Knight. However, as Knight was later disqualified, Jackie is in the record books as the 1989 champion. I got the difference in prize money, she told Muscle Insider a few years ago, but never a first-place medal or certificate with my name on it.
The IFBB - ever classy!
Later in 1989 she was runner-up again at the World Pro, this time to Diana Dennis, and debuted at the Ms Olympia, finishing 4th behind only Cory Everson, Sandy Riddell, and Bev Francis. In 1990 she was runner-up at the Ms International again, and 5th at the Olympia. Women were getting much more muscular, and I didn’t have the body type or desire to, she said of her decision to call time on her FBBing career. I didn’t have a mentor then either, so things may have been different if I had, but I had a business to attend to, and a recent relationship breakdown, so I had a lack of focus. She did one final Olympia in 1991, placed 11th, and never competed again.
She was married, became a mother, and for many years afterwards, she ran a successful training business. In 2005, though, complications resulting from her breast implants began to affect her health, and the last ten years or so had been a bit of a struggle for her physically and financially, although there were times when she felt she was on the road to recovery, and at one time Jackie was quoted as saying she would like to give the Physique division a try. Sadly, she was never able to do so.
Like many other fans, I fell for Jackie during my formative female muscle lovin' years, and especially I found images of her demonstrating her legendary flexibility, among the first of her I saw, utterly mesmerising. They, she, will stay with me as long as I live.
Read Muscle Insider's full 1-on-1 with Jackie here.