Tag Archives: Mildred Burke

Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame Opens On A Shoestring

Albany NY Times Union – May 4, 2002
By Paul Grondahl

For a beleaguered city beset by cop scandals, crime-ridden neighborhoods and economic malaise, perhaps there’s nothing like a little old-school smackdown to revive its faded luster.

At least that’s the hope of the organizers of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in a downtown storefront along a stretch of abandoned buildings in derelict Canal Square. The Hall of Fame’s grand opening events are today and Sunday. Continue reading

Bonnie Watson Meets Champ Tonight

Daytona Beach Morning Journal – February 27, 1954

Bonnie Watson, who has become a top notcher in girl wrestling, will get her biggest chance to-night. Continue reading

Over 3,000 Mat Fans Get To See An Extra Contest

St. Joseph News-Press – January 16, 1943

Some 3,700 enthusiastic wrestling fans got to see a match that wasn’t advertised last night at the Auditorium as Betty Weston, a gal in red tights, who flashed an attack that matched the brilliance of her ring togs, won the right to meet Mildred Burke for the women’s world mat title here next Friday. Continue reading

Bobby Managoff Cops World Title

Houston Post – November 28, 1942

Young Bobby Managoff was crowned the new heavyweight wrestling champion of the world Friday night at the City Auditorium in Houston, before a cheering capacity crowd that had flocked into the building to see their idol work against Yvon Robert. Continue reading

Robert Risks Mat Crown To Bob Managoff

Houston Post – November 27, 1942

Yvon Robert, 228-pound French-Canadian heavyweight wrestling champion of the world, will make his first wrestling appearance in Houston Friday night at the City Auditorium when he risks his newly acquired title to young Bobby Managoff, Houston’s idol and the nation’s top contender for matdom’s top honors. Continue reading

Robert Risks Title Friday Against Managoff

Houston Post – November 22, 1942

Yvon Robert, French Canadian mat master, now is the unquestioned heavyweight wrestling champion of the world. He gained a pretty staunch toehold on the title late in October when he pinned “Wild Bill” Longson twice in Montreal in a battle which Longson questioned and even got out an injunction against Robert claiming the crown. But Friday night in St. Louis, Robert again faced Longson, and this time he outroughed and beat Longson beyond any shadow of doubt, throwing Longson completely out of the ring, and defying him to return. Continue reading


Milwaukee Journal – September 29, 1951

Wrestler Mildred Burke, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, suffered a fractured vertebre when her car blew a tire and collided with another near Barstow, California, Friday. Her stepson, Billy Wolf Jr., 29, suffered a skull fracture.

Mildred Burke Wins But Berry Is Held To Draw

St. Joseph News-Press – January 23, 1943

More than 4,500 wrestling fans last night helped Gust Karras celebrate the 10th anniversary of his St. Joseph wrestling promotions and this all-time record crowd saw Mildred Burke make a successful defense of her woman’s world title against Betty Weston, while Wild Red Berry, light heavyweight champion, was held to a draw by Prospector Pete in the other title clash on the card.

Miss Burke, resplendent in white ring togs and in the best condition of her career, eliminated Miss Weston in straight falls by way of leaving little doubt of her superiority over the women grapplers. The first fall came in eight minutes after Miss Burke broke up a Texas rules attack to put Miss Weston on the defensive with a series of headlocks.

The Ohio girl continued to rough it in the other sessions but the champion, who is ready to open her first invasion of California, ended the contest in seven minutes. This time she employed an alligator clutch to subdue the girl who roughed her way through the elimination tournament last week to gain a shot at the title.

Berry returned to the Auditorium after an absence of 10 years to demonstrate the form that has taken him to the top. He gained the first fall in 21 minutes with his ivy twist, but Pete evened the match after Berry had tried to ram the prospector’s head into the ring post but himself was thrown against that support. The remaining seven minutes of the match were extremely rough.

Mae Young won the other woman’s match of the night over Gladys (Kill ‘Em) Gillem to gain a booking with Elviry Snodgrass here next week. Miss Gillem was her usual businesslike self, but was at a disadvantage when it came to speed. The blonde blaster got the jump on her and that was the difference.

Jack Dillon took the opener from Elmer Snodgrass in 11 minutes.

Victor In Armory Womens Bout Will Meet “World’s Champion”

Daytona Beach Morning Journal – September 24, 1946

Juanita Coffman

Juanita Coffman

Two lady bonecrushers will head the card at tonight’s Armory program: Juanita Coffman and Helen Hild.  The winner of the one-hour time limit, one-fall bout is scheduled to meet Mildred Burke, who is billed as “World’s Woman Champion,” at a later date.

Sponsored jointly by the American Legion and the Florida State Guard, the program will also include a semi-final between Lou Laird and Ali Pasha (sometimes known as the Terrible Turk), an opening bout between W. T. Hill and Swede Olson, a four-round boxing match and 10 pairs of nylons to be given away.

Helen Hild

Helen Hild

Wrestler’s Rep Packed A Wallop

The Florida Times-Union – December 5, 1999

Diamonds were a girl’s best friend.

Mildred also was partial to the alligator clutch.

That’s how she got her diamonds.

Mildred Burke was the greatest woman’s wrestler of her time.

She wore 50 grand worth of diamonds to work, until they got too heavy.

Also, she married a guy called Diamond, who brought her to Jacksonville, where the wrestling promoter was George Romanoff.

Romanoff had wrestled Billy “Diamond” Wolfe enough times to persuade him to bring his wife to Jacksonville early and often to fill the seats in the Main and Beaver streets arena.

Thus it was that Millie Burke brought the family jewels to town 54 years ago this week, a week that coincidentally marked the start of something big.

While sports fans were all atwitter about the return of Mildred Burke, they were quite underwhelmed by the announcement that South Carolina and Wake Forest had been signed to play in the first, and perhaps only, Gator Bowl football classic.

“Admittedly not as good an attraction as they would have liked,” began Jacksonville Journal sports editor Charlie Baker.

The local Lions Club had finally matched two Southern conference rivals for a New Year’s game in Municipal Stadium.

The Jacksonville Naval Air Station Fliers were the local gridiron power in December 1945. They had just ended a 9-2 season 48-0 over the Pensacola Navy Goslings.

And the high school Andrew Jackson Tigers’ upcoming Kiwanis Bowl tilt against the Middletown, Conn., Tigers, figured to draw more than the Lions affair.

But all paled before Mildred Burke.

Mildred Burke had taken women’s wrestling out of the burlesque theater and put it where it belonged, like the Main and Beaver arena.

Mildred’s rags-to-rocks story began when she saw her first wrestling match in Kansas City.

“I had the same dream over and over,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1981.

“I’d be at the head of the steps, and there’d be a crowd of people applauding at the bottom, and I’d take off . . . like an angel.”

Her dreams detoured when she became a waitress on the Zuni reservation near Gallup, N.M. She ran off with an initial husband and took up wrestling after meeting Wolfe, director of the Kansas City YMCA and Missouri wrestling champion.

Soon, she was regularly beating up men in carnivals and fairs and, in 1936, won a woman’s “championship” tournament Wolfe organized in Betheny, Mo.

That’s where she got her first diamonds.

The championship belt was said to be worth $2,500.

It would be chump change to the dough in Millie’s future.

Mildred, Diamond and the belt came to Jacksonville in 1937. In time she was bringing in 300 grand a year.

The new champ packed the arena to beat the famous Stella Steker, the Arizonian Amazon who had perfected the airplane spin, thus demonstrating that a good alligator clutch could beat a good airplane spin.

(The alligator clutch involved twisting one’s opponent into a knot and sitting on her. Burke figured she ended 2,400 matches that way.)

In 1938, Burke was in what Life magazine said was the first women’s mud-wrestling match. In the 1940s, she wrestled in a Jacksonville ring covered with swamp mud and melted lard.

By the end of World War II, Mildred Burke was a household name. Mud wrestling days were far behind.

She wrestled six times a week, 50 weeks a year. She became the first wrestler to wear a fancy robe and become a pin-up girl.

The diamond collection kept getting bigger and bigger. She became America’s best-muscled sex symbol. Once she was named one of America’s best dressed women.

You can imagine how Mildred Burke could overshadow the mere birth of the Gator Bowl.

“Comely Kansas City cyclone,” the Jacksonville Journal called her.

“Bulging muscles like a man, but a cute chick in street clothes.”

“Miss Burke will have her costly diamond-studded championship belt ready to turn over in the event she loses,” the Florida Times-Union said. “Which is not very likely.”

She had gone undefeated — fighting six nights a week, 50 weeks a year — for seven years.

Going up against Burke was Mae Young, a bigger blonde Chicago tusslerette who had beaten up June Byers for the privilege of appearing in the Main and Beaver street arena. (Byers would one day make off with Mildred Burke’s Diamond Wolfe and her title, but that is another story.)

On this night, before a crowd that “all but overflowed” the Main and Beaver arena, Millie took Mae in two straight falls that took a total of 31 minutes, probably longer than it took to clear Municipal Stadium, which did not overflow, after the Wake Forests beat the South Carolinas.