Sarah Robles: The strongest woman in America lives on $400 a month


51 Responses to “Sarah Robles: The strongest woman in America lives on $400 a month”

  1. We need a Kickstarter or Indiegogo project for Sarah & others in her position. I’d gladly contribute a modest sum to keep her in high-protein groceries. $400 per month is a disgrace. You want to start it, or you want me to?  We need a video appeal and some content to get started. This simply should not be happening.

    • markp says:

      And, yet, if this were the same story about a random-ass poor family…

      • LaylaSV says:

        I hear your point. At the same time, Sarah Robles has a clear-cut goal, and has demonstrated both the remarkable talent and the drive necessary to achieve that goal, meaning, she is a particularly easy person to help. 

        Affecting a long term change in the living standard of a random-ass poor family is a much more complicated endeavor.  It is unsurprising that, when contributing $10 to a cause, people might want to go with what gives the most immediate and obvious return.

        This isn’t anything to get overly cynical about; there is a lot of good to get done in the world and squabbling over which good is best isn’t actually helping any of them.

        • markp says:

          So, maybe my first comment was a little quickly thrown off.

          So, yeah, I totally understand why people have this reaction (the bullied bus monitor of last is a similar case).  You definitely get a bigger warm fuzzy feeling of having helped someone with a face and good story (though I’m not sure that constitutes a “return” in the true sense.)
          But that’s the main issue actually.  Everyone throwing $5 or $10 at a single case of a systemic problem arguably makes it worse in the long run.  So, you help one notable person, but in four years there’s going to be another handful of people who don’t get Buzzfeed/Boing Boing write-ups who still have to scrape by because there is no system in place to support athletes in un-glamorous sports.  And those people who were moved by the issue now already feel like they’ve done their bit.

          And, on the other hand, yes, we absolutely should squabble about which ills get addressed.  Because as a society, we have limited resources and not every problem is equally important.  Systemic poverty is considerably bigger than a single poor person, however talented she may be.

          • LaylaSV says:

            I agree in so much as we have state and national governments whose entire job consists of effectively prioritizing the nation’s collective spending. On this scale, collective good, such as increased access to education or job training should trump individual athlete sponsorship every time (also pet projects, prisons, and pork for that matter). 

            However, on my last hand, when it comes to personal charitable donations, I am okay with each person giving as they wilt. Especially as the circumstances in which $10 will be effective – a really limited, narrowly defined goal, are often different to those in which tens of millions would be required.

          • rsk says:

             I agree entirely with your analysis: we really ought to debate where money should go first, then second, then third — and hopefully we can arrive at some sort of rough consensus based on common values.  Maybe.

            But the thing that galls me is that were our society not so incredibly skewed toward the rich, this debate would be superfluous.   The 1000 richest people in America easily have enough PERSONAL wealth to lift the 50 million poorest out of poverty.   They could do it tomorrow.   And they would STILL be the 1000 richest people in America afterwards.

            But they won’t.  Nor will they do it the next day.  And so instead those of us who are barely scraping by will need to try to figure out how we can scape by on just a little less so that we can at least try to help those who aren’t making it at all.

  2. Evan Brown says:

    Interesting that it mentions Holley Mangold, but not the fact that her brother is Nick Mangold of the NY Jets who has a pretty hefty salary. Yet his sister lives in a laundry room?

    • dbergen says:

      Exactly what I was thinking, her brother just signed a $54,000,000 contract, is their relationship seriously that bad?

    • John Napsterista says:

       Holley Mangold sounds like a fun person.  She digs video games, played offensive line on her high school football team, is pursuing a triple major in theology, sociology and philosophy when she goes back to college, and makes self-deprecating wisecracks about not getting a tattoo because“fat girls” should not get the Olympic rings “tramp-stamped” on their backs.  

      Her brother Nick won’t even be going to see her compete in London, ostensibly because it’s during preseason practice.  Jets coach Rex Ryan was “shocked” by that, and said he’s going to strongly encourage Nick to miss a couple days and go see his sister compete.  Nick did say that’d he’d find a way to watch it on TV though.  :-/  So yeah, sounds like there might be a mild degree of sibling estrangement going on there.

  3. sarahnocal says:

    So she’s the strongest ATHLETE in America, right? If she beat both American men and women, then she’s not only the strongest women, she’s the strongest American. Period.

    • dbergen says:

      Oh please, that fact is bent around so far I can hear the cracking from here.

    • Nda Nda says:

      No.  She beats other American women.  She doesn’t even come close to American men, who can just pwn the everloving shit out of her totals.  There are guys who oly lift for fun who can do significantly more than her.

  4. picaflor says:

    ooph! That NYT Mangold article is something.

    I wish Ms. Robles the best of luck.

  5. weightlifter123 says:

    “she bested every other American—both female and male”

    This is only true if you are being highly deceptive.  The heaviest women’s weight class is 75+ kg.  Robles weighed 118.42 kg.  There was only one male athlete from the usa that was in a weight class lower than 75 kg.  This was Barnes Lamar. he weighed 55.25 kg.  Robles lifted more than Lamar…but only Lamar.  Every other USA male athlete that competed lifted more than Robles.  This includes
    - VAUGHN Chad Thomas weighing  76 kg
    - FARRIS Kendrick weighing  84kg
    - KRYCH Zachary Joseph  weighing 84 kg

    So Robles lifts better than ONE male athlete, that she weighs twice as much as… and she is now the best weight lifter in the USA?  

    A more truthful statement would be she lifted better than every male competitor at or below he weight class, which although still deceptive is actually true.

    • tiamat_the_red says:

      I think the confusion comes from Buzzfeed’s statement that she’s the highest ranked weightlifter in the USA, which is not actually the same thing as being the strongest.  I could be wrong, but hey.

  6. Daemonworks says:

    You know, I’ve never really understood why anyone would care whether an athelete was amateur or professional…

  7. Jorpho says:

    While part of me feels a little bad for  Ms.Robles and her $400 a month, I feel considerably more outrage regarding Michael Phelps and his millions of dollars in endorsements earned because he swims real good.

    I don’t think amateur athletes deserve considerable compensation.  Or rather, while I think regular exercise and an active lifestyle is probably a very important part of staying healthy, I don’t think younger people should focus disproportionately on athletics at the expense of academics, nor do I think a disproportionate amount of resources should be directed towards them.  There’s probably more than a few people out there earning $400 a month doing incredible things that we’ll never even hear about for lack of an equivalent public forum.

    • picklefactory says:

      You try flinging 106 kilograms over your head in a single explosive movement, then you can come back and make comments about `incredible things’.

    • Kai Sikorski says:

      What makes you qualified to tell other people whether their pursuit is worthy of resources? You may argue that athletes don’t produce anything useful through their efforts, but that’s equally true for many fields of academics (and I say that as a Math PhD student who could certainly be accused of being in that category). 

      • Jorpho says:

        Well, won’t having a math PhD make you desirable to potential employers?  [Which is not to say that making oneself desirable to employers is the only reason for doing anything; I'm just sayin'.]

  8. rsk says:

    I’ve represented the US in international competition in an obscure sport.  In addition to the expense and effort of  training for years, buying my own equipment, paying for coaching, and paying for medical expenses (I was injured twice), I had to pay all of my competition expenses, including travel/lodging/food/etc.  This is typical — everyone who’s not in a marquee sport, and even some of those who are but aren’t medal favorites, will burn through a lot of cash just to make it to the start, just to have a chance.  And as you might expect, some very, very talented athletes never get there, not because of lack of  drive or effort, but because the money runs out.   Others go so deep into debt that they spend the next decade trying to claw their way out.

    For every Mary Lou Retton, Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong or Kimmie Meisner, there are a thousand other athletes who just weren’t as lucky.

  9. GIFtheory says:

    In a society that throws hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars annually at Hollywood starlets, swimsuit models, porn stars, talentless-but-sexy pop stars, strippers, escorts, and hot tennis stars, I’d be more than happy to throw a couple of bucks in the direction of a woman whom I admire for her strength, passion, and courage to buck society’s conceptions of what constitutes an awesome woman. This is why I read BB.

  10. bcsizemo says:

    And male weightlifters often get their sponsorships from supplements or diet pills, because their buff, ripped bodies align with male beauty ideals. Men on diet pills want to look like weightlifters — most women would rather not.

    Just to point out something here.
    Olympic style weight lifting, or weight lifting as a sport in general does NOT give you a body like that on the front of Muscle magazine or Arnold or Ronnie Coleman.

    Strongmen and top tier weight lifters are strong as can be, but they are not ripped.  You might see one near %15 body fat, but really it’s probably going to be higher than that.

    Not saying that strongmen/women don’t get the occasional sponsorship, but it isn’t because they have chiseled abs and awesome arms.

    • LogrusZed says:

       I was thinking the same thing. Power-lifters are all pretty barrel-shaped people. The lifestyle difference and appearance difference between them and bodybuilders is shaped by the goal. Bodybuilders want to look, to an ignorant lay-person, like they could do what actual lifters are capable of doing.

      The sport I sometimes enjoy watching is the insane world of Strongman competitions. The body types there seem like a hybrid between the more cut/defined arms of builders and the squat torso-heavy build of lifters. The focus on reps probably gets them more cut up.

  11. MPAVictoria says:

    I am against providing funding for any athletes while schools have to hold bake sales to buy textbooks and people go without health insurance. If this is her passion I wish her all the luck in the world. She seems to have a real gift. However funding sports will always come behind providing children with a decent education or sick people with the drugs they need to live. If she doesn’t want to live on 400 dollars a month she could get a job doing something else. Perhaps coaching?

  12. BombBlastLightingWaltz says:

    Reach for your goals and you will over come all obstacles. 

  13. Halloween_Jack says:

    There’s something very sad, sick and wrong about the number of people who are trolling (or trying to troll) this thread–I can just guess from the context the sort of thing that was actually said. And, you know, there aren’t nearly as many people in space-related post threads saying that we shouldn’t be spending all that money on space exploration when there’s hunger and homelessness on earth, even though the space program costs much, much more than sending athletes to the Games.

    Sarah Robles is a dedicated, lovely young lady who deserves way more support than she’s getting, here or elsewhere. I wish her the best in London.

  14. BongBong says:

    The Olympics are an anachronistic form of entertainment that is unnecessary and the economic rewards of training to be an “Olympian” follows this logic. It is nothing more than entertainment for viewers, even as it represents personal bests for the performers involved. Why does it surprise anyone that this athlete is paid so little? There are no jobs that require her to perform 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week lifting giant weights… other than perhaps moving furniture.

    • penguinchris says:

      OK, but you just described the arts as well. We both may see more value in the arts than in athletic competition, but not everyone does.

      I’m not particularly interested in the Olympics and I don’t care at all about other sports, but I do admire athletes like this one (not so much the multimillionaire professionals). As a society we’ve more or less moved past the point where great athletic skill or great strength are necessary, like you say, so what they’re doing is essentially an art, and one that a lot of people do care about and admire.

      That’s not really an argument for paying her more than what she makes – she’s not entitled to it, just like obscure artists aren’t entitled to a steady paycheck – but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to admire about what she does, and it doesn’t mean there isn’t any value to society in athletes like this. 

      • retepslluerb says:

        Art usually doesn’t wreck havoc with the local economy and doesn’t foster corruption, tax cheating, bullying of citizens not willing to sale, massive tax subsidies by providing resources paid for by the citizens and insane laws. 

  15. cscott says:

    They featured Holley on Hard Knocks, and you can see the resentment in Nick’s face when they interact. MTV also did a TrueLife about her, and he was less then thrilled. I think he is probably embarrassed by his gargantuan sister. Growing up, she most likely tagged along, and made him self aware for her, bc she apparently is a very free strong spirit.

    • retepslluerb says:

      Inventing a narrative.

      We all do, of course, but as far as I know of the case, we don’t know anything at all besides the bare facts. 

      I’ve seen “free strong spirits” and “people who seem like fun” do really shitty things to their next of kin.  And of course much more stupid (to outside observers) reasons for siblings not interacting which each other.

      Again: All we know is that he doesn’t want to watch her lift some weights.  I’d simply leave to at that.

  16. I don’t recollect whether it has been here or on Metafilter that I’ve read a similar thread or two, but it’s the dissimilarity that strikes me most: generally, when a group of people start commenting on weightlifters, it seems reasonable to state that a significant portion of them do not think very highly of a person who engages in the activity.  One might say that they feel free to heap abuse on them. 

    And generally, the people who are discussed engaging in weightlifting are men.  Is it because Robles is a woman that she receives such a warm reception (which, IMO, she deserves, I should note).

    Anyhow, if anyone wants to get all sociological on some forum and post anti-stereotypical stories to see whether the polarity of comments flips on those as well, I’ll be tickled pink if I’m able to locate them.

  17. ChickieD says:

    If you read biographies of some of the bicyclists that have won the Tour de France, they live pretty much the same way. Anyone that is in one of the less popular sports is living on a friend’s couch, eating ramen noodles, and training non-stop. Sarah Robles seems like a great role model, but she is on one of those sports that just does not get the attention. Certainly it doesn’t help that she doesn’t fit the stereotype of beauty – beach volleyball got popular pretty fast! – but I doubt the archery team is rolling in sponsorships either. My guess is that about 90% of the Olympic athletes live like her.

    • atimoshenko says:

      Sarah Robles seems like a great role model

      In the sense of doing what you love despite what others think about it/how much benefit it brings to others/its financial consequences? I suppose it’s a fair point to make, but would it not equally apply to, say, drug addicts? I’m all for people pursuing whatever it is they love, to hell with what everyone else thinks. I do not, however, see it as something to be admired or emulated. Indeed, if you have a role model, are you not giving up some of the “for myself and no one else”-ness?

  18. cinilak says:

    I feel bad for anyone living on $400 in US,  but let’s for a second assume that sports serve no purpose in society, other than entertainment, and what she does, not a lot of people would pay to see:

    so, she can lift more than anyone else… and thus she should have an income based on that?

    How about, parallel to her training, learning a trade to maintain herself in this cruel currency based world?

    Hey I wanna be a novelist, musician and a film maker, but you know what, PHP, JS  & MYSQL help nicely to maintain a lifestyle, whilst I do some of these in my spare time and keep rest on the back burner.

    I don’t think ones who taken the risk to ‘do what they love’ to maintain themselves should cry about it if it goes pear shaped.

    • blueelm says:

      I don’t know. I gave up all of my dreams and my passion to make money. Now I make money. Some nights I think pretty seriously about suicide. It might not be worth it, you know, to live pointlessly just for the sake of staying alive with nothing you value in your life. Just sayin’

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I haven’t had a job with fixed hours in 16 years. Money’s incredibly convenient, but it can’t make you happy. Make a two-year plan and at the end of the two years, quit and do something more interesting.

  19. Patrick says:

    Interesting discussion.  Why can’t someone (I’m not smart enough) create a simple online matching system, whereby people can help these athletes if they see fit?  Then, we wouldn’t have to debate the value of a weightlifter vs. a math Ph.D., or whatever.   U.S. Olympic Committee, via facebook? 

  20. psychedelicdonut says:

    Who would you suggest fund these athletes? Why should we fund these athletes? Why don’t you fund Starcraft players? No reason,  other than traditionally you’ve placed emphasis on Olympic athletes.

  21. Patrick says:

    Not sure if you’re replying to me, but … I wouldn’t suggest anyone fund these athletes, or do anything else with their money (though some causes are objectively better than others, clearly).  I merely suggest a matching system, where people who WANT to help, can.  As I suggested, it’s got nothing to do with the relative merit of what they do. 

  22. Chris Moran says:

    Who says it is a choice? This may have been her only option. Besides having known quite a few people who both have worked and gone to food banks  most end up having to throw away food because they have too much. 

  23. giantasterisk says:

     Does Poe’s Law apply to comments like this?

  24. picklefactory says:

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

  25. Althea Ann says:

    Umm… who are you to say what a woman is ‘supposed’ to look like? I didn’t know there were rules… fashions change, styles change… ideal appearances are not set in stone. Today’s ideal isn’t that of 100 years ago, let alone 1000,  and it’s a sad and totalitarian society where everyone has to strive to look the same. Not everyone has to be a trend-chaser.
    And… she probably puts more effort into “taking care of herself” than either you or I.

    OK, yeah, feeding the troll, sorry.

  26. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Nothing that a ban hammer won’t cure.

  27. picklefactory says:


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