Courtesy Cherokee Nation
Kylee Russell competing at the AAU national competition in Las Vegas earlier this year.

16 Year-Old Cherokee Girl Named 'Best Lifter', Eyes Olympics


*Press release from the Cherokee Nation

At 16, Cherokee Nation citizen Kylee Russell continues to shatter stereotypes and records every time she competes at an Amateur Athletic Union weightlifting meet.The Kansas High School sophomore holds both national and world records in bench press, squat, dead lift and total weight lifted in the 14-15 age group and 181-pound weight class. Now, Russell dreams of Olympic glory.

“My ultimate plan is to become an Olympic lifter,” Russell said. “I went to the Junior Olympics in 2011 to lift weights, and I realized that it’d be really cool to compete.”

Russell’s world records are 203.93 pounds on bench press, 385.8 on squat, 341.71 on dead lift and 931.44 in total weight. Her national records are 195 pounds on bench press, 405 on squat, 335 on dead lift and 935 in total weight, according to AAU sports.

At the world competition in Las Vegas earlier this year, Russell competed not only in her age division and weight class, but also in the open division, and was named “Best Lifter.”

In July, she made event history after competing in the AAU Oklahoma State Powerlifting competition in Tulsa and became the first competitor to squat more than 400 pounds at age 15.

Russell admits her fellow male classmates like to challenge her in the weight room at school, but that she can out lift most of them. She hopes her ability to compete and beat males at her age level can serve as an example to her fellow teenage girls.

“I want to be a role model and show girls that they can do things that guys can do, and maybe even do them better,” Russell said. “Don’t ever underestimate yourself. You can do whatever you want, as long as you try hard and believe in yourself.”

Russell got into powerlifting in middle school. She noticed the high school girls lifted weights for basketball and softball. Russell asked her parents if she could begin lifting, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Russell uses a healthy diet and a strict workout routine to maintain peak physical condition. She trains with weights two to three times per week, and during training cycles for competitions, she will also do CrossFit. At the end of any workout she jumps rope for two minutes.

To view her records, visit Russell’s video of her 405-pound squat can also be seen on the Oklahoma AAU Powerlifting Facebook page.

Kylie is the daughter of Jeremy Russell, a human resources supervisor for the Cherokee Nation.


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Teri 's picture
Submitted by Teri on

That truly is an amazing feat. I helped train my husband and he was a 40 year old in 181and could not lift that Awesome achievement