ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Last Thursday around 11 p.m., a man broke into 82-year-old Willie Murphy’s Rochester home.

But she’s not pressing charges.

“I already sent him to the hospital,” she said Monday, following a workout at her home away from home, the YMCA.

Murphy, who is barely 5-feet tall and weighs 105 pounds, beat the intruder so hard with a small table that it broke. Then while the man was on the floor, dazed, she poured shampoo in his eyes. Then, while he screamed at her – calling her “everything but the mother of God!” – Murphy grabbed a broom (the one she uses to clear snow off her car) and repeatedly jabbed him “with all my force,” she said.

Her force is a lot.

‘If it’s my time to go to hell, I’m taking him with me’

Murphy can deadlift 225 pounds – more than twice her weight.

She’s a 2018 World Natural Powerlifting Federation Upstate New York champ. She was the organization’s Lifter of the Year in 2014. She can do one-handed pull-ups, one-handed pushups, fingertip push-ups, and the push-ups where you put your fingers in a diamond formation and press your nose all the way to the floor.

So, really, the man who broke through her front door – after initially trying to get Murphy to open it by lying about being shot and needing help – didn’t stand a chance.

In fact, he needed help after tangling with Murphy in her living room, there by the glow of the TV.

“I was whaling on that man,” Murphy recalled. “’Cause I said to myself, ‘If it’s my time to go to hell, I’m taking him with me!’”

Instead, when it was over, he was taken away by ambulance. Murphy was fine. And the four Rochester police officers who showed up at her door just as she was delivering her final blows with the broom – they asked to take selfies with her.

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‘A strong, beautiful woman’

In the days that have followed, she’s been inundated with interview requests from local, national and international media outlets, including the BBC.

“I’ve got 37 messages on my answering machine,” she said.

And while some people might bask in the glory of their story going viral, Murphy said what means the most to her are the hugs, the smiles and support she’s gotten from her friends at the Maplewood Y. Among those folks is Michelle LeBoo, program coordinator at the Y’s Caroline “Lily” Lobozzo Aging Resource Center, which is operated by Lifespan of Greater Rochester.

Having known Murphy for eight years, LeBoo will tell you, Murphy is “a strong, beautiful woman” who is loyal to her Y friends and does things “for the benefit of others.” In addition to which, “She really helps dispel the myths of aging.”

You can say that again.

Follow Marcia Greenwood on Twitter: @MarciaGreenwood

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