Women Grapplers Add Bit To Groaners

Williamsport PA Gazette Bulletin – August 26, 1955

CHICAGO — Women wrestlers like Rose Roman Hesseltine believe a woman’s place is in the ring. She ranks as a top hand among the 40 members of the fairer sex in the United States who have invaded man’s wrestling domain for a share of the loot. Rose Roman has been wrestling professionally ever since she came to Chicago five years ago from Des Moines.

“I’ve had about a dozen black eyes, broken toes and fingers, and have been laid up with my back several times. But I’ve won better than half my matches,” she says proudly. “That’s better than I did in my first ones.”

As for loot, lady wrestlers can make from $15,000 to $65,000 a year.

Promoter Fred Kohler says since lady wrestling returned this spring after a long ban by the Illinois Athletic Commission, attendance has jumped 300 to 500 per cent.

The national boom began when Indiana early this year permitted women to wrestle in public exhibitions. It now is permitted in 43 states, Kohler said.

Rose Roman won women’s rights a healthy boost when she pinned the Illinois Athletic Commission to the mat with a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court. Justice Roy Klingspiel said the commission had not statutory power to refuse Miss Roman a wrestling license.

She is one of six lady wrestlers in Kohler’s stable which also has 35 men wrestlers for matches as far away as Mexico City and Caracas, Venezuela. He insists they be ladies and follow the rules set by athletic commissions on behavior. That means no kicking, or hair pulling, no gouging of eyes.

“They want to protect the fragility of women,” Rose Roman says.

Her 138 pounds and 24 years are about average for her profession.

Her ringmate, Shirley Strimple, from Pittsburgh, is 26 and is married to a wrestler, Roy McClarity, a sleeper-hold specialist from Winnipeg, Canada. The couple have three children — Debra, 3; Tony, 21 months, and Steven, 4 months. The tots are tended by a nurse when their parents are wrestling.

Kohler says Shirley and Rose are the two most beautiful ring dolls who ever applied a head lock. Rose has the edge with her purple hairdo, however. Why purple hair?

“I wanted to be different,” she said. “There are too many blondes.”

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