WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

K: Klondyke Kate


Klondyke Kate
(Initially known as Big Bertha)

Those old enough, with the longest of memories will remember the original Klondyke Kate of the 1960s, otherwise known as Chris Thompson, one of the wrestling daughters of Jack Cassidy. Chris soon morphed into Hellcat Haggerty, leaving the Klondyke Kate persona to be taken to greater heights by  girl from the Potteries, Jane Porter.

Jane Porter’s contribution to British wrestling over thirty plus 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, "Number one  female was Klondyke Kate,a true professional, narrowly beating my number two Mitzi Mueller."

It's not just the wrestlers, but the fans too who admire Klondyke Kate, as expressed by Palais Fan when he told us,   "Kate's thirty plus years as a wrestling heel, who never fails to enrage and entertain the crowd, entitles her to a special place in British professional wrestling history. Her ability to wind up the crowd, give and get high impact bumps, places her high on my list of great wrestling villains, male or female." 
That place is  indisputable with Klondyke Kate a lady wrestler known to 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 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 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.

Not Jane.

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. 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  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.
Page added 31/05/2020