The Princess Kate of Wrestling
His Royal Highness Prince William may have chosen his Princess, but for wrestling fans there can, and always will be, only one Princess Kate.
No, not a Princess. We refer to our own Queen of wrestling, Klondyke Kate.
Our limited knowledge of lady wrestling means that we do not cover this aspect of the sport in Wrestling Heritage, but if we can't make an exception to our self imposed rule when there's a royal wedding, when can we?
Klondyke Kate's contribution to British wrestling over the past thirty odd years is without contention. The esteem in which she is held by male colleagues is obvious whenever wrestlers come together. One of them told us:
Such a view was reinforced in March 2010 when Kate was chosen by her fellow professionals to receive an award for her contribution to the sport at the Leeds Reunion.
It's not just the wrestlers, but the fans too who admire Klondyke Kate, as expressed by Palais Fan when he told us,
That place is indisputable with Klondyke Kate most likely the best known lady wrestler amongst non wrestling fans. In 1989 the BBC television documentary series "Forty Minutes" included a programme called "Raging Belles," documenting her match with Nicky Munroe. In 1992 a British national newspaper, The Independent, included her profile in a series of articles entitled "Heroes and Villains." An anthology of non fiction, "Klondyke Kate Revisted" was named after the wrestler and her photo ardorned the cover.
Few worked the crowd (and still can) like Klondyke Kate. Her entry to the ring would be punctuated with pauses that allowed her to snarl and argue with members of the crowd. Boy, could she argue. Klondyke Kate would find an endless list of arguments to pick, with the fans, the referee, the MC, her opponent, and then she'd begin all over again. We loved it.
Kate, or Jane as she was in those days, was a Potteries girl who watched the wrestling at her local hall with her grandmother. Few places in Britain are as far from the sea as Stoke and so she welcomed the opportunities to visit her aunt who lived in Blackpool. Not just for the seaside and the relatives, but the wrestling as well.
In the 1970s Bobby Barron (right) was the number one promoter in the Lancashire coastal resort, putting on shows throughout the week at various venues. The highlight of fifteen year old Jane's visits was to go along to Bobby's wrestling shows.
When the Mighty Chang was badly cut his blood sprayed onto Jane's white dress. Most fifteen year olds would have been upset and settled for consolation from family members.
She confidently confronted Bobby Barron and demanded that something was done about her dress. Exactly what was done was a surprise to everyone including Jane herself. Bobby invited her along to his gym to have a watch his boys train, and have a go herself if she liked. Jane liked! She loved it and was undeterred by the bumps, and still undeterred by a broken ankle! During her next holiday Jane returned to stay with her aunt and spent the days learning how to wrestle with Bobby Baron, Steve Peacock, and Tony Francis, amongst others.
Shortly afterwards the shy Jane made her debut in the professional wrestling ring, known as Big Bertha to begin with but soon dropping it in favour of Klondyke Kate. When Jane became Kate she certainly wasn't shy and interacted immediately with the fans. From the beginning she was on the road to Blackpool, Liverpool, Southport, and further afield. Klondyke Kate made a refreshing contrast with the the likes of Mitzi Mueller, Paula Valdez and Lolita Loren. The fans loved her, or at least loved jeering her.
Not just in Britain, but overseas also. Klondyke Kate was working in Nigeria when she was just sixteen. A couple of years later she toured Japan, and on to the USA, the Far East, South Africa and throughout Europe.
Wherever she has wrestled the response of the fans has always been the same - the posturing, the punching, the bullying of her smaller opponent inflamed the emotions. We booed, we jeered, we shouted insults and then we went home happy.
The promoters were happy too. Not just Bobby Barron, who must have been very proud of his protege, but promoters of the biggest shows, Brian Dixon and Orig Williams. It was a tribute to Klondyke Bill that when Brian Dixon's wife, Mitzi Mueller, made her farewell appearance at the Royal Albert Hall Klondyke Kate was in the opposite corner.
Klondyke Kate has continued to make her unique contribution to British wrestling for more than thirty years. She has retired twice, but can't stay away. A trainer of the younger generation, a manager, an ambassador of the sport.
No one else deserves the breaking of that self imposed rule we mentioned at the start.
Well, not until Prince Harry marries a girl called Mitzi.