Category Archives: Wrestling History

The Jim Cornette Experience

If you’re a fan of wrestling history, be sure to catch today’s episode of the Jim Cornette Experience. I’m on the show today talking about a few of my favorite things: The Allen Athletic Club, Elvira Snodgrass, and The Black Panther Jim Mitchell.

If you’ve already listened to today’s show, you can follow the links below to read more about the books and stories I’ve been working on.

The Black Panther Jim Mitchell

Elvira Snodgrass Part 1 and Part 2

Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville

Louisville’s Greatest Show: The Story of the Allen Athletic Club

Herb Welch’s How to Become a Champion

“Dr. D” David Schultz (autobiography coming soon!)

Don’t Call Him Fake!

“Dr. D” David Schultz is a folk hero to professional wrestlers. He is the man who slapped John Stossel on 20/20 for suggesting professional wrestling is fake. At a time when the walls of kayfabe were beginning to leak, he was the man with the nerve to do what had to be done. He was as real as it gets.

Most fans don’t remember that was a top star before his all-too-brief WWE run. He was the top heel in the AWA for a year, waging bloody battles against Hulk Hogan for Vern Gagne. Before that he was a tag team champion and singles champion in Florida and Memphis. He was a top level star in Japan. He is remembered fondly in Alberta, Canada, where he feuded with a very young, pre-Hitman Bret Hart in Stampede Wrestling.

When his WWE days were over, he continued to wreak havoc in the ring, taking on the most dangerous men in the business. He proved his toughness in violent clashes against Ric Flair, Abdullah the Butcher, the Iron Shiek, Johnny Rodz, and Bruiser Brody.

Still, wrestling isn’t even half the story. Dr. D’s proudest accomplishment is becoming one of the most successful bounty hunters in America’s history. For more than two decades, the biggest heel in the wrestling business worked babyface, chasing down crooks, con-men, kidnappers, child molesters, drug dealers, and murderers. From the mean streets of Los Angeles, to the dark alleys of Puerto Rico, to the worst neighborhoods in New York, to the ancient city of Cairo, Dr. D was the guy who always got his man – or woman.

Don’t Call Me Fake: The Real Story of “Dr. D” David Schultz will not be a tell-all or an expose. It’s the autobiography of a man who has lived an extraordinary life. You’ll get the story of his wrestling career, from his early education with the legendary Herb Welch through his final days in the ring, but you’ll also get the incredible story of a man who would stop at nothing to bring a crook to justice.

You can call Dr. D many things, but after you read this story, the last thing you’ll call him is fake. This is the real story of Dr. D, and it’s coming very soon.

Letters to the Black Panther

If you heard the Jim Cornette Experience released on Thursday, November 2, you heard him make mention of two letters he picked up from me: one from Morris Siegel and one from Sam Muchnick. Both letters are posted below for those who want to take a peek.

Mitchell was on the tail end of his amazing career. He was ready to step away but hoping to help launch the career of his protege Ricky Waldo. Waldo never took off like he hoped, most likely due to the fact that everyone wanted to book someone else in his place: Bobo Brazil.

There are still a few letters like this available, along with wrestling boots, licenses from across the US and Canada, and a number of photos and programs, mostly from the West Coast. The pipe collection is also for sale. If you’re interested in any of these items, please email me!

90 Days and Counting (Again)

Start the clock again. More talented wrestlers may be returning to the indies.

We’re already counting down for Neville. Now you can add Emma to the list.

Emma is a classic example of how some things never change. The WWE seems to sabotage at least as many talented wrestlers as they set up for success. For every John Cena, who came in with a rocket strapped to his back, there’s a Nick Dinsmore/U-Gene, or a “Stuttering” Matt Morgan, or a Spirit Squad.

Emma was set up to fail from day one, which is a shame because she can go. She’s a Lance Storm student, and she’s just as talented as the WWE’s Four Horsewomen. Her release is a blessing in disguise for her career, and now she has the chance to write her own ticket. Who wouldn’t want to see her lock up with Tessa Blanchard, Santana Garrett, Rachel Ellering, or LuFisto? When her 90 day non-compete ends, don’t be surprised to see her show up in Shimmer, or Queens of Combat, or – dare I  say it? – Girl Fight. (Mad Man Pondo, take note!)

I don’t know as much about Darren Young, but I think he’s got a fair shot to find success outside the WWE as well. There’s certainly more opportunity now than there has been in years, and if he chooses to follow Cody Rhodes and Neville, he can go far.

I’m not sure we’ll see Summer Rae in the indies. I think it’s more likely she’ll pursue more film and TV, but I hate to see her go without ever truly getting a chance on the main roster. If you go back and watch her work in NXT, she could hold her own against any of the top women now in the company. Too bad the sabotaged her as well, putting her in the shrieking, helpless blonde at ringside role at ringside. As much as WWE wants us to believe they’ve turned the page on women in wrestling, Summer Rae is an example that some things never change.

Time will tell if this is the last of the house cleaning. Time will also tell if any of the “future endeavored” will be add to the current indy revival. If the drive is in them, Emma, Darren Young, and Summer Rae will find more opportunity to pursue future endeavors than their predecessors.

Elvira Snodgrass: The Toughest “Girl” Wrestler of Them All

Mildred Burke was tough. She was a legitimate shooter trained by Billy Wolfe who could take on men as well as women. She held the women’s world championship for more than twenty years. She went two out of three falls most nights in the semi-main event or main most nights, and in the eyes of many fans, including me, she never lost it.

Mae Young was undeniably tough. She wrestled many of those main events against Mildred Burke and afterwards, went down to the bar to smoke cigars, drink beer, and pick fights with the men. She took bumps well into her eighties that made everyone cringe, and she never backed down from anyone.

Mildred was tough. Mae was tough. I’m here to tell you, Elvira Snodgrass was tougher than either of them.

Elvira has been a fascination of mine for a few years now. It started with the now debunked story that she and Mildred Burke once drew over 15,000 fans in Louisville, Kentucky for a main event, and grew from there. She’s the forgotten woman in the story of the golden age of female grapplers, largely due to her early exit and untimely death. The only clue as to what happened to her came from a scrapbook kept by Wild Bill Zim. Zim noted next to a photo of the two of them that she had lost an arm and died around 1957.

Now the truth can be told.

Just a few months ago, I received an email from Elvira’s nephew Aubrey Fuller, who read a previous story I posted about Elvira. He was able to fill in some amazing gaps in Elvira’s story – starting with the very beginning.

Elvira’s birth name was Gutherine Fuller and she was from Varnado, Louisiana. Her mother was a half-blooded Cherokee, and Elvira was proud of the fact she had “Indian blood” in her veins. Her first marriage was at an early age when she married Johnny Smith. Her only child was named Mae Bell Smith.  She is listed on the 1930 US Census as living in the house of her father, John Willie Fuller of Varnado. She would make annual trips to Louisiana to visit with her mother.

Elvira was married three times, Johnny Smith, Bob Snodgrass, and lastly Paul Hazelbaker. Aubrey’s father said Bob Snodgrass, who wrestled under the name Elmer Snodgrass, was the strongest person he ever met. “My dad was a very strong man whom no one would pick a fight with, but he said Elmer Snodgrass was the strongest person he had ever seen.  Dad said he could pick up a bale of cotton on his back and walk off with it.  MY dad was not prone to tell lies, so I always believed him.”

According to the 1930 US Census, Guthrine and her first husband Johnny were living with Guthrine’s parents with their daughter in 1930, along with all her younger siblings, including Aubrey’s father. By 1940 she had moved out, but daughter Mae Bell was still living with her grandparents. It’s believed she moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Billy Wolfe’s core group of lady wrestlers were based.

“Life was tough in rural Louisiana in the early part of the 1900s,” says Aubrey Fuller. “In 1940, my dad reported approximately 450 dollars for a full year of work.  Aunt Gutherine didn’t like the hardships of the area and moved to greener pastures.”

After she gained fame as a wrestler, Elvira would make trips back to Bogalusa, Louisiana to see her family.  She would let everyone know in advance when she would be home so that all of the nieces and nephews could be together when she came for her visit. “When she arrived, she would enter the building, throws handfuls of pennies, nickels, and dimes on the floor and holler ‘Razoo!’  She loved to see the children scrambling for the money.”

“When Aunt Gutherine visited Bogalusa, my mother would bake her a 4-5 pound fish called a buffalo. They are members of the carp family. They are not very tasty and smelled even worse as it was cooking in the oven.  I never understood why she liked that fish.”

Much has been said in latter years of the division between the lady wrestlers working for Wolfe, especially between Burke and the rest of the group. The story has been largely put forward by Mae Young and the Fabulous Moolah, both of whom had their issues with Burke and Wolfe. Fuller recalls getting a much different impression from his aunt during these brief visits home.

“At one time, we had pictures of Aunt Gutherine eating dinner with Mildred Burke and other lady wrestlers of the era. She told us that most of the ladies got along well.”

Elvira was a fiercely independent woman who usually traveled alone on the long car rides from one show to the next. “When she traveled alone around the country in her car, match or no match, she would place a man’s hat upon the rear window sill of the car. The theory was that other men seeing the hat would think a man was sleeping on the back seat and not bother or attempt to molest her.  I think this was mostly done after she lost her arm in the accident.”

Yes, just as Wild Bill Zim recorded in his scrapbook, Elvira lost an arm in a single car crash near Florence, Kentucky. It’s the story of how she lost the arm that makes her arguably the toughest woman ever to lace up a pair of boots.

Elvira rolled her car into an embankment, just out of sight from the road. Her arm was badly mangled and pinned, and she was unable to get her arm free. She waited a long time for help to come, but when help never arrived, she did what she had to do. She cut the arm off just above the elbow herself. Once free of the vehicle, she crawled back up to the road and sought medical help.

Update: It should be noted that story in Daily Times from June 26, 1952, the lists Elvira’s injuries as a compound fracture of the left arm and a scalp laceration. I have two sources that claim Elvira did indeed lose the arm, but I can’t verify for certain how or when that might have been lost. Given the nature of her chosen profession, it’s possible there might have been some kayfabe involved in the newspaper story to keep her injury a secret at the time. I will be digging deeper on this story to find out what really happened.

Incredible as the story was, family lore has it that Elvira kept wrestling for a time with one arm. I have yet to confirm this story as well, but I will be going back into the newspapers.com archives in the future to find out.

One other rumor I had come across said that Elvira had died of a suicide. That story didn’t sit right after hearing how she had survived the car crash, and I can confirm the rumor is false. Elvira died at an early age from the same cause that Aubrey’s father and a few of his uncles: cardiac arrest. She died in Columbus, Ohio, and was buried in Glen Rest Memorial Estate on East Main Street in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

No doubt there is more to this incredible woman’s story to be told, and I’ll be sure to pass it on as I learn more. If nothing else, these new stories about Elvira’s toughness prove she deserves to take her place along side Mildred Burke and Mae Young as one of the strongest women ever to grace the squared circle.

You can read more of Elvira’s story in the book Louisville’s Greatest Show: The Story of the Allen Athletic Club.

Photo of Elvira and Wild Bill Zim courtesy of Mike Zim.

Can a Virus Change History?

Sometimes, seemingly insignificant events can change history. That’s true for the world at large as well as the world of professional wrestling. If you want a great example, click here read about another seemingly insignificant event that changed wrestling history.

Right now, a virus has completely changed the card for Sunday’s pay-per-view. An illness that everyone has had from time to time has led to changes that upset some fans and energized others.

What will happen if the ratings for Sunday’s show spike because Kurt Angle is there and not Roman Reigns?

What will happen if A.J. Styles and Finn Balor tear the house down?

And on a side note… can we all agree Sister Abigail has had the worst luck since the Shockmaster when it comes to making a debut? Two days before the world finally got to meet her, she comes down with an illness.

Fans who want change, this is an opportunity to do what I’ve been telling you to do: vote with your remote. Vote with your dollars. Tune in. Tweet it out. I can’t promise they’ll listen, especially where it counts, but you know they are watching, and you know they will hear you.

The Lost Pipe Collection of the Black Panther

In 2003 a man named Dave Marciniak was eating out with his girlfriend when he heard a woman mention a home for sale in an historic district in Toledo. Marciniak had been flipping houses for a few decades, and on a whim, he gave the home a look. He paid $11,000 for the house after only seeing the outside, and he went to work.

As fate would have it, the house turned out to be the residence of long-lost wrestling legend, “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell. Mitchell had passed away in the 90s, and his widow had only recently passed, leaving the home vacant. Marciniak was not a wrestling fan, but he knew the personal items he found might be worth something. He began saving everything he could, including wrestling boots, letters, licenses, personal photos, souvenirs, programs, suitcases… and the Black Panther’s legendary pipe collection.

Mitchell was an avid tobacco enthusiast, and he collected smoking pipes everywhere he went – from the US to Canada to Japan to Australia to Europe. His fans and friends sent him pipes as well, and in 1962, his collection was appraised at $25,000.

Marciniak has put the collection up for sale to the right bidder. Some photos are posted below. If you’re interested, please contact me (John Cosper) at this website, and I’ll put you in touch!

This is a remarkable collection rife with history. Our hope is to preserve the entire collection and send it some place where it can be treasured and enjoyed by others.

Dr. D Breaks Up Mean Gene

If you heard the Steve Austin Unleashed Podcast last week, you heard Austin and Kenny Bolin discussing a promo where “Dr. D” David Schultz got Mean Gene to break up and laugh on camera. Here’s the video clip if you’d like to have a look:

Dr. D has been written out of a lot of wrestling history over the last 20 years, despite his runs in Stampede, Memphis, Florida, Japan, and the AWA as well as WWF. We’re going to set the record straight. Dr. D’s autobiography, “Don’t Call me Fake,” is on track for release this coming winter.

“The Money Is in the Rematch”

For those who are wondering why so many people are saying, “The money is in the rematch,” after last night’s fight, here’s a story from Louisville’s past – all the way back to 1881.

In that year, a Louisville “resident: named Robert M. Pennell went to the Courier-Journal newspaper office and issued a challenge. Pennell, who was locally known for his feats of strength in weightlifting, offered to fight for any sum of money against any citizen of the United States or Europe brave enough to step into the ring with him.

On August 21 the Courier-Journal published a response to Pennell’s challenge from Chicago grappler Charles Flynn. Flynn sent a man named Edward Morrill to Louisville to negotiate terms for the blockbuster match. Morrill and Pennell’s representatives agreed to a Greco-Roman contest with each side putting up $250. The contest would take place on September 17 at Woodland Garden, a popular beer garden located on Market Street. A number of stipulations were added to the contract, and the most significant one was the promise that no matter how long the match went, there would be no draw!

When Flynn arrived in town on September 7, people were eager to learn all they could about Pennell’s challenger. Billed as as champion wrestler of the Northwest, Flynn stood at five foot nine and a half feet tall and weighed 182 pounds. Flynn was fairly new to the sport of wrestling, but in less than five years he had racked up a number of notable wins in his adopted hometown of Chicago. He was so confident he would win, he offered to double the stakes of the match to $500. Flynn also wanted the winner to take all the gate money, but Pennell refused, insisting the loser get one third of the box office.

A crowd of eight hundred, mostly young men, gathered at Woodland Gardens on the 17th to witness the battle between Pennell and Flynn. What happened was an unexpected and disappointing finish. Pennell was clearly the stronger of the two, but Flynn proved to be the superior technical wrestler. Flynn took the first fall, but after falling, the fans could see desperation in the challenger’s eyes.

The clock ticked passed midnight, and at 12:10 AM, Flynn shocked the fans by withdrawing from the match. The fans were outraged! They were assured there would be no draw in this contest. Edwin Morrill announced to the fans that Flynn had agreed to wrestle Pennell on September 17. Since it was now September 18, the written contract had been fulfilled. Flynn was done with Pennell.

The crowd was livid. They screamed for Flynn to finish the contest. The referee, hoping to appease the crowd, announced Pennell as the winner, but Pennell gallantly refused to accept the win. Ignoring the cry of the masses who wanted him to take the win and the $500, he told the crowd that Morrill had out-foxed him, and he agreed the match should end in a draw. But he also took the opportunity to demand a rematch, two weeks hence, for double the stakes – a $1000 purse! Flynn agreed to the rematch, and the evening was over.

The very next day, Flynn backed off from his promise of a rematch. Flynn said he had no objection to wrestling Pennell again in private, but he had no desire to step into a ring in Louisville with the city’s fans against him. Flynn had no immediate plans to leave town, stating he had made many friends and intended to stick around for a week or so, but the public rematch was out.

The next day, Flynn put up a deposit of $50 at the Courier-Journal to show he was sincere about the private rematch. He announced his intention to remain in Louisville until the races were concluded at Churchill, but he reiterated his stance he would not face Pennell in a public exhibition.

On September 22, Pennell met with Edward Morrill again to negotiate terms of a public rematch. With Flynn’s blessing, Morrill  agreed to a second match. This time, Pennell closed the loophole. The match would continue until there was a winner. There really and truly would be NO draw this time!

On September 30, a crowd of more than 1000 gathered to watch the strongest man in the world take on the champion of the Northwest. A good number of bettors and sports enthusiasts from Peoria and Chicago came in for the match to cheer on Chicago’s own, but the crowd was largely local and largely in Pennell’s corner.

When the opponents disrobed, it was clear Flynn was in better shape than his opponent that night. He was also much cooler and patient than in their previous match as the two locked up. Pennell matched Flynn’s caution, and both men took a defensive posture. Flynn took the early advantage when Pennell went for a neck hold, dropping him to mat, but when Flynn went for a hold, Pennell powered out and dropped Flynn on his shoulders, scoring a fall and drawing a roar from the partisan crowd.

Flynn came out more aggressively for round two. His scientific knowledge of the sport gave him the edge, and in ten minutes, Pennell was on his back, struggling to keep one shoulder off the mat. Flynn overpowered him, and the match was even at one fall a piece.

Flynn looked fresh as they began the third round just before 10 PM. Pennell, on the other hand, was showing serious signs of fatigue and suffering from sprained fingers. Pennell spent much of the round face down on the mat as Flynn struggled to flip him on his back. Unable to put his “Nelson grip” to use, Flynn ultimately used a neck lock to turn the stronger man over and take the third fall.

Pennell called for a surgeon during the third intermission and attempted to treat his badly damaged hand. It was of little use, and when Pennell answered the bell for the fourth round, he appeared “timid as a child.” Flynn kept Pennell on the defensive, chasing him all over the stage. At one point, Flynn had Pennell pressed against the floodlights, and Pennell, afraid he might be tossed off the stage, was heard saying, “Don’t hurt me, Flynn, don’t hurt me.” At that moment, Flynn flipped Pennell over one last time and scored the pin, taking the victory and ending the contest.

After the crowd left, the two competitors met in the presence of the judges, referee, and Courier-Journal representatives. Flynn received his prize of $1000 plus two thirds of the gate. Pennell admitted he had been soundly defeated and congratulated his opponent.

Having won the battle, Flynn declared his intention to next challenge Duncan Ross. Pennell and Flynn would leave town together on September 7th for Chicago for they hoped would be a run in with Ross, who would soon move to Louisville himself and set up shop.

It seems strange that two such bitter rivals would leave practically arm in arm in pursuit of their next challenge, but a year later, an article in the Courier-Journal would shine a different light on their so-called rivalry. A unidentified wrestler gave the Courier what he claimed to be the real story of Pennell and Flynn – it was all a work.

According to the unnamed source, Pennell and Flynn came into Louisville playing a very common game used by greedy promoters. A wrestler of some repute would move into a town where people could be “easily gulled.” The wrestler, now claiming to be a local, would issue open challenges that would be answered by a pre-selected opponent from out of town. The opponent would come to town, engage in a war of words with the challenger, and ultimately square off with him in a match.

What’s more, the outcome of these matches was often decided on the fly. Observers would watch the betting on the matches, and depending on who had the most money bet by the third of fourth round, decide the finish based on who could win the more money. By doing so, the promoters and their allies could maximize their profits by betting – and winning – on the perceived underdog.

“It is,” the source concluded, “a settled fact that all the wrestlers, who are abusing each other, are very good friends in reality and put on the disguise of enmity to gull the people more easily.”

The article couldn’t have come at a worse time for Louisville wrestling enthusiasts. The champion of the world, William Muldoon of New York, was in town wrestling against the latest wrestler to make Louisville his home and issue and open challenge to the world. That wrestler was none other than Duncan C. Ross, formerly of Chicago.

The rumors of a fix, combined with some heelish behavior from Muldoon, soured the Louisville sports fans on wrestling. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that men like William Barton and Heywood Allen would succeed in popularizing wrestling in the city again, igniting a passion for the sport that continues to this day.

The story of Pennell and Flynn, as well as the stories of Ross and Muldoon, appear in the book Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville.

The Real Queen of the Ring the WWE Won’t Tell You About

The WWE loves to rewrite history in its own image. They want you to believe that Bruno Sammartino was a greater champion than Lou Thesz. They want you to believe Andre the Giant never lost a match until Wrestlemania III. They want you to forget that Chris Benoit ever existed.

You get the idea.

The WWE is about to present its first all-women’s tournament, the Mae Young Classic. While there’s no question that Mae is a legend and a beloved figure within the WWE, naming the tournament after Mae is another subtle step to covering up the true history of women’s wrestling in favor of the WWE line.

I won’t disagree with those who say Mae Young is one of the greatest stars in women’s wrestling history. Mae was already a Hall of Fame- worthy star when Vince, Jr., was just in diapers, a gorgeous but violent gal who smoked cigars and picked fights with men in bars just to blow off steam. My issue is with the larger narrative the WWE has sold for years about women’s wrestling. It’s not about Mae; it’s about the lady the WWE sells as the “greatest” of all time.

You see the WWE wants you to believe that in the history of women’s wrestling, only one women stands above Mae’s legacy: the Fabulous Moolah. The WWE line is that Moolah was the greatest women’s champion of all time, reigning for 28 years straight. Moolah was the pride of Vince McMahon, Sr., and the gatekeeper for women’s wrestling for more than three decades. If you wanted to get into the business, you better get in good with Moolah, but don’t dare cross her.

Here’s what the WWE won’t tell you: Moolah was never a main event star. Moolah didn’t work two out of three falls matches multiple nights every week. Moolah did not pack auditoriums and stadiums from coast to coast based on her name alone.

Long story short: the Fabulous Moolah was no Mildred Burke!

For the better part of three decades, Mildred Burke was not only the top star in women’s wrestling but one of the biggest names in professional wrestling, period. Burke was a single mother living in Kansas when she met former wrestler turned promoter Billy Wolfe. Burke knew Wolfe was in the business promoting women’s wrestlers, and she saw an opportunity to give herself and her son a better life. Wolfe thought Burke was too small, and when she came in for a tryout, he handpicked a group of men to rough her up and send her packing. Burke took the beating and impressed Wolfe in the process, so Wolfe took her under his wing and trained her.

Burke began her career in the ring working the carnival circuit taking on all comers, including men. She allegedly wrestled more than 200 men in those early days, losing only once. She defeated Clara Mortenson to claim the women’s world champion, and her rise to the top began.

Wolfe knew he had a star in Burke, and he began to build a company of women’s wrestlers around her, including Ida Mae Martinez, Mae Weston, Gloria Barratini, June Byers, Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillam, and of course, Mae Young. Burke was a powerful and dynamic athlete who impressed the fans with her skill but could still dazzle them with her beauty and fashion sense.

Wolfe and Burke dominated the women’s wrestling scene from the late 1930s into the 1950s. They were married, but their marriage was more of a business arrangement than a vow of love. Burke had her affairs, including Billy’s son. Billy slept with numerous members of his troupe, anyone willing to trade sex for an advancement in their career.

The names at the top of the cards changed over the years, and most of the ladies had their shot working the big matches, including Mae Young. The one constant, however, was Burke, who proved without a doubt she was the top draw and the top talent in the group.

Burke’s run at the top ended shortly after her marriage to Wolfe, a bitter war culminating in a shoot match between Burke and Wolfe’s specially trained successor, June Byers. The match ended in a no-contest, with only one fall out of two decided against Burke. Burke and Wolfe both lobbied the NWA to be recognized that the go-to for women’s wrestling, but the NWA chose to wash its hands of both of them. Burke was blackballed by most of the promoters. Byers retired as champion, never becoming the money draw Burke had been.

The door of opportunity opened, and Moolah and her supporters seized the moment.

There are many reasons the WWE chose to push the Moolah’s revisionist history. Moolah had an axe to grind with Wolfe, who refused to let her take time off for her father’s funeral. Mae had her own axe to grind with Burke, whom she never got along with. Moolah and Mae pushed their version of women’s wrestling history in the documentary “Lipstick and Dynamite,” and the WWE furthered that story in their own programming and publications. To hear Moolah and Mae tell it, Mildred Burke was protected by Wolfe. Burke was no better a shooter than anyone else in the troupe. Both Moolah and Mae could have taken the great Mildred Burke down – had they only been given the chance.

History is written by the victors, and in some cases, by the survivors who live the longest. Burke’s star faded long before he death. She passed away in 1989, leaving no one to defend her legacy. Mae and Moolah were given a platform, and they rewrote the history of women’s wrestling in their own image.

Here’s the truth: without Mildred Burke, there is no Mae Young. Without Mildred Burke, there is no Moolah. Recent years have seen a great surge in the popularity of women’s wrestling, first in the independents and now in the WWE. But make no mistake: Burke reigned as Queen of the Ring in an era that to this day has not been surpassed.

I don’t want to diminish anyone’s enjoyment of the Mae Young Classic. Despite a few serious omissions (LuFisto, Mickie Knuckles, Kelly Klein), I am looking forward to the tournament as much as any women’s wrestling fan. I just want fans to be mindful of the WWE line and find out for themselves the true history of this sport.

Moolah is a Hall of Famer. Mae Young is a legend. But Mildred Burke is still the Queen of the Ring.

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