Naomi Kutin might be the strongest girl in the world. A Modern Orthodox 11-year-old from Fair Lawn, N.J., Kutin can lift twice her own weight. In January she set a world record in her weight class (then 97 pounds), lifting a staggering 214.9 pounds and triumphing over female competitors several decades her senior. Since then, she’s continued setting regional and national records, and has captured the popular imagination.
Kutin, or “Supergirl,” as her mother, Neshama, calls her, first learned to lift weights from her father, Ed. Two years ago, Ed noticed that Naomi exhibited unusual strength in her karate class, and he began instructing her — slowly, at first — in powerlifting. Naomi quickly excelled at the squat, in which a weighted bar is placed across the shoulders and lifted. The family competes “raw” – that is, without supportive gear.
Kutin’s strength is rare for her age. But add in the fact that Kutin is an Orthodox Jew, and she’s an utter anomaly in the powerlifting world. Kutin attends Yeshivat Noam, a day school in Paramus, N.J. Her teachers and fellow students show their support for her unusual hobby by hanging news clippings of her wins in the school trophy case.
The family doesn’t compete on Saturdays, which is typically when women and children lift in two-day powerlifting meets. Instead, Kutin competes on Sundays, surrounded by tattooed musclemen. But she is modest about the dozens of trophies and certificates that dot her pink bedroom. As she told the Forward in a 2012 interview, “It’s kind of weird being stronger than an adult.”