Female Wrestlers visit Story County

The Tribune should have printed this caption:Four female wrestlers made Story County news when a 1949 exhibition bout held in Nevada included the "Blonde Bombshell" and "The Southern Hillbilly."  Above, the "petite, five feet one inch 130-pound" Christine Ray demonstrates an "easy hold" on Tribune employee, Don Kingkade.

BOY MEETS GIRL -- 'RASSLER' - Wha' Happen?  The "little woman" lifting the stronger sex with so much ease is Christine Ray, woman wrestler, and the victim, Don Kingkade, Tribune employee.  Christine said this was one of the easier "holds" in wrestling.

It would be an Amazonian task for most women to toss a man over their shoulders in an airplane spin, but for petite, 5-foot 1-inch 130-pound Christine Ray it’s all in a day’s work.  Miss Ray is one of the four women wrestlers who appeared in an exhibition bout at Nevada last week.  Now 23, she was only fifteen years old when she entered the sport.  Watching a match at her native Huntsville, Ala, she "got so mad, that a promoter who was there said anyone with a wildcat temper like that ought to be in wrestling.  He called me up twice a day for a week, and so I finally gave in and started training.

HARD TRAINING - Although Miss Ray likes the money in the sport, she admits her social life and outside interests are curtailed.  The girls must observe a rigorous training schedule of exercise and calisthenics, and Miss Ray said she runs from two to five miles a day.  They wrestle three times a week, and often must be on the road the rest of the time.

Another of the girls, Ramona Walling from Beloit, Wis., billed as the "Blonde Bombshell," said she inherited her tendencies to raise havoc in a ring from her father, who was flyweight champion in the Navy for five years.  An independent wrestler, Miss Walling accepts only engagements in which her salary is guaranteed, win or lose.  She wrestles, she estimated, an average of 175 bouts a year.  "It’s healthy," she remarked, "but ten years at the most is all a woman is good for in this game.  It takes a lot out of you."


DANGEROUS - The sport, though healthy, is a dangerous one.  Miss Ray was disabled for nine months with a broken knee and cartilage bone, and Miss Walling has had several ribs smashed.  In Michigan, the sport is banned entirely, resulting from the death of a woman wrestler.

The girl most completely enthusiastic about the sport itself was Judy Yokum, the Southern Hillbilly.  Miss Yokum, whose real name is Elizabeth Phillipps, is a tall stocky girl, with a bushy mop of hair, a handicap when her opponent chooses to make use of it.  Judy is only 21, weighs 134, and like Christine, comes from Alabama.  When asked how she got into wrestling, she replied, "I just went to a match once, and that did it."  Judy told of the steaks that the girls need after every bout.  "We lose about five pounds a night when we’re wrestling, and just have to have a steak afterwards.  Sometimes chicken, but steak is a better food for us."  She said she weighed 148 when she began wrestling, went right down to 134 and has stayed at that weight for the three years she has been in the ring.

The fourth of the girls was Donna DeLaun, who holds the world’s champion title in woman’s wrestling.  Before entering the ring, the rangy 5’ 10, 172-pound Miss De Laun, played basketball with the All American Redheads.  In 1941 she suffered a knee injury, and while in the hospital met Ed "Strangler" Lewis, who persuaded her to try wrestling.  In the past eight years, besides a heavy regular schedule, the champion has done benefit shows in army camps and hospitals over the United States and in Hawaii.  She is now being offered a trip to Italy to defend her title there.  A pedigreed black cocker spaniel, "Sissie," accompanies Miss De Laun on all her trips, and he knows who he likes, and won’t let anyone he doesn’t like in the dressing room."  She also admitted that time for other things was scarce in the wrestling game, and said most of her free time was spent in teaching Sissie tricks.


The girls agreed that the art of self defense, derived from wrestling, can be a handy thing.  "When you move around the country," explained Miss Ray, "you are bound to find some rough crowds, and some guys who want to get tough.  Last week some man came busting through the crowd into the ring.  We had to throw him out."

Women can wrestle men or women with the same ease, according to Miss Walling.  "Men are stronger, but women are quicker," the Bombshell asserted.  "The most important things, however, are leverage and balance."  There are seldom "hard feelings" after a match, the girls insisted.  The Southern Hillbilly put it this way, "Sure, I wrestle to win, but I like the sport for itself and if I don’t win, I don’t get mad."  When asked if many of the bouts were not staged, and simply exhibition matches, the girls declined to comment.   The four nodded heartily in agreement to Judy’s closing statement, "Well, I don’t know exactly why, but I wouldn’t give up wrestling for the world."