A TIME TO REMEMBER—Diana Fuhrman
It was a different time. Most serious weight rooms were considered male bastions and any woman who even entertained the thought of entering a weightlifting meet was looked upon with suspicion. From 1981 to 1988 there was a women’s national championships in the U.S. Conducted separately from the men’s. This meant that many of the top officials and members of the weightlifting community did not attend the women’s event. Because the women’s category was not yet an Olympic event, U.S.A.W’s outfitting contract with adidas did not include the women. The U.S.O.C. Would not allow women to attend training camps at the O.T.C., and most of the top tier coaches considered it a step down to accept the women’s international team assignments. I personally experienced this when my first application for Senior International Coach status was rejected because I listed a woman as one of my international athletes, the committee not sure whether coaching a female qualified a coach for this status.
With no realistic hopes of an Olympic Dream, an intrepid group of women trained diligently to earn all the honors they could. One of the stalwarts of that group earned the recognition that was due her this past Saturday when I had the opportunity to induct her into the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.
The induction was part of the U.S. Olympic Trials where women had the opportunity to pursue a berth on the Olympic team. I felt it appropriate to recount the uphill battle faced by the early pioneers of the women’s side who did what they did out of passion for weightlifting and not out of any realistic opportunity to qualify for an Olympic team berth.
Diana Fuhrman was the inductee. She was a student in my Honors Biology class at Van Nuys High School in 1978. She got into my weightlifting program to improve her prowess at tennis and track and field. Her tennis coach was so opposed to tennis players and especially female tennis players from lifting weights that Diana had to have her sister distract the coach so she could sneak into the weight room.
After a few years Diana felt confident enough in her lifting skills to enter a few lifting meets. It was usually 25 to 30 men and Diana. They liked her because her technique was excellent. They thought she was cute. Many flirted with her. After awhile though, I had to take her aside and let her know that she was not going to be much more than a cute side attraction if she didn’t get serious and show the world what women could do on a lifting platform.
She could have kept on the same path, but she decided instead to get serious about her lifting and move forward.
The result was 4 National Championships, 2 Olympic Festival Golds, 2 NACACI Golds, 6 World Championships team berths, a World’s bronze medal and over a dozen National Records. Her best snatch of 93 set at 67.5 kg bodyweight in 1992 would have put her in first place in the 69 kg class this past weekend.
Diana was one of a group of intrepid females who helped set the table so that today’s women could pursue their Olympic dreams. She is certainly deserving of Hall of Fame honors and I know her efforts were appreciated by all the lifters in attendance!