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History of Women in Wrestling

Women in wrestling have a long and rich tradition. In ancient Greece and Rome, women wrestled each other, while in some ancient African tribes, women wrestled against both women and men. In the South Pacific, almost 1,000 years ago, women and men alike wrestled and engaged in other martial arts as part of their spiritual and ritual practices. Women were wrestling in Europe at least 150 years ago, but there focus has become slightly more about costume and spectacle. By the time women in wrestling were gaining popularity and attention in America in the early 1900s, the focus was almost always entertainment as opposed to female combat and athleticism.

Women in Wrestling Entertainment

Over the last century, women’s wrestling as a sport and as entertainment have both developed, sometimes growing apart and other times coming together. At the extreme end of the exploitation and spectacle of women in wrestling were organizations like Women of Wrestling (WOW) and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). Somewhere in the middle are the federations like WWF/WWE that showcase very talented female athletes, but do tend to relegate them to second class status and sex symbols much of the time while the men take the limelight. At the other end of the spectrum are the high school, college, and amateur, and professional venues that are giving increasing support and attention to women’s wrestling as a competitive sport.

There is a complex history of legal issues revolving around women in wrestling. Starting at the high school level, where girls wanted to be afforded the equal right to train and compete, there were significant concerns--some of which became lawsuits and controversies. For some time, the dominant paradigm seemed to be that if a woman could try out for a wrestling team and face off against men competitively, then she could be a team member.

The problems here were immediately obvious. Many schools required their male wrestlers to forfeit to women when they came up against them in tournaments. In some cases, religious groups or parents would demand this of boys, even if their schools did not. There was a scandal in 1996 when the Texas Wrestling Officials Association decided they would disband entirely rather than officiate coed matches. No serious athletes, male or female, wanted this contention to detract from their sport.

An Increase in the Number of Women in Wrestling

The obvious conclusion was for schools at the high school and college level to have women’s wrestling programs, but many schools did not think there would be sufficient support or interest. California, Hawaii, and Texas led the way to proving otherwise in the 1990s. The decade started with only a few dozen girls wrestling at the high school level; by the turn of the millennium, Hawaii, Michigan, and Texas had State Championships for high school women in wrestling, and California had countless all-girl squads. Washington soon joined their ranks. Almost 5,000 girls are now wrestling at the high school level, and there are 21 varsity wrestling programs in North American colleges, most of which offer scholarships for their female wrestlers.

Starting in 1987, there were World Championships for women’s wrestling; and, as of 2004, the sport was included in the Olympic Games with four weight classes invited to Athens. Wrestlers from 54 nations attended, 21 of which qualified. The first medal ever awarded in women’s wrestling at the Olympics went to an American--Patricia Miranda.

As women’s competitive wrestling gains popularity, women’s professional wrestling is really changing. Steel Kittens showcases the best professional women in wrestling, combining the amazing athleticism of today’s best female combatants with the exciting showmanship that makes professional wrestling great entertainment as well as an exciting and challenging sport.

Check these three Vintage Classic Womens Wrestling videos below



"Vintage 60's & 70's #VA-50-4"

1. Cheryl Day (Pink Suit) vs Sonya Sanchez 2. Casey Carr (Brown Suit) vs Sonya Sanchez 3. Pat Wiggs (Black Suit) vs Jackie West 4. Laura Del Rio (White Suit) vs Jackie West 5. War Star (Long Hair) vs Panama Franco (Mud Wrestling) 6. Jackie West (Striped Suit) vs Laura Del Rio (Mud Wrestling) 7. Cheryl Day vs Sue Sexton (Dark Boots) 8. Sue Sexton vs Yvonne Jennings (Blue Suit) 9. Casey Carr vs Sharon Lee (Blonde) 10. Sylvia Hackney vs Cheryl Day (Blue Suit)

7 Pro Girl & 2 Mud Wrestling Matches | Classic Professional Women's Wrestling

Mildred Burke’s dominance of the sport flourished in the 60s & 70s as she trained future stars and filmed their matches in California, plus a mud wrestling match. These are all gems of classic professional women's wrestling. Shot in 8mm with no sound, the matches pre-dated the age of videotape. They are now digitally preserved and feature young Sue Sexton, Cheryl Day, Casey Carr, Jackie West, Laura Del Rio and War Star.


"Classic Women's Professional Wrestling VA-50-2"

1. A 10 Girl Battle Royal from the 50’s with Paula Kaye, Sue Green, Donna Christanello & others. 2. Vivian Vachon, Marie LaVerne and Kay Noble banging heads in New Orleans. 3. June Byers Vs Violet Viann 4. Mae Young & Eva Lee Vs Theresa Theiss & Violet Viann 5. Mae Young Vs Eva Lee 6. Violet Viann & Ellen Olson Vs Theresa Theiss & Mae Young 7. Joyce Ford Vs June Byers 8. June Byers & Millie Stafford Vs Lilly Bitter & Mars Bennett

4 Tag Team, 1 Battle Royal & 3 Pro Girl Classic Professional Women's Wrestling Matches

This tape features the rarest footage available of the classic professional women's wrestling stars of the 50s, including Texans Joyce Ford & June Byers, Eva Lee, Mae Young, Violet Viann, Ellen Olson, and more--all under Billy Wolfe’s tutelage and control. There’s also a great 10 girl Battle Royal and then some 60’s footage of Vivian Vachon, Marie LaVerne, and Kay Noble in New Orleans battles.


"Vintage Professional Ladies Wrestling #VA-50-20"

5 Ladies Professional Wrestling Matches

Vintage Professional Ladies Wrestling Circa 1940’s – 1950’s

From our Private Collection, Steel Kittens brings you Vintage Professional Ladies Wrestling Circa 1940’s – 1950’s. This is rare footage from 16mm film of live matches Featuring Classic Lady Wrestlers like Lillian Ellison aka “Fabulous Moolah”, Rita Boucher, Violet Viann, Betty Hawkins Clara Mortensen and more. These ladies really know how to put on a show! Great Classic Pro Wrestling Action from the glory days of wrestling! Digitized, some matches have live audio others have sound overlay. If you’re a collector of Ladies Professional Wrestling, this tape is a must!

1. Rita Boucher, Barbara Owens VS. Lillian Ellison (Moolah), Patti Neilson, Circa 1950’s
2. Gorgeous Lindsey vs. Clara Mortensen, Circa 1950’s Syndicated Professional Women’s Wrestling
3. Blonde Ballerina vs. Rita Martinez, Circa 1950’s, Syndicated Professional Women’s Wrestling
4. Betty Hawkins vs. Violet Viann, From the 50’s, Syndicated Professional Women’s Wrestling
5. Battle Royal: Ford & Cook vs. Young, Martin & Eva, From the 50’s, Syndicated Professional
Women’s Wrestling


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