The Rise of the Women of Wrestling
How female wrestlers are making their mark
As of this writing, women of wrestling are experiencing a surge of success. Their matches have now become the main events—take the all-female edition of WWE’s Royal Rumble last January, for example. River City Wrestling founder notes how the sport has evolved from being what he considers “bra and panty matches.”
Wrestling has seen rising numbers of girls stepping into the ring as early as high school—according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NHFS), there were as many as 14, 587 female high school students engaging in wrestling from 2016–17. Last July 9, a three-day all-girls wrestling camp was held in Iowa to encourage young girls to pursue the sport.
For the women of wrestling, the journey to success has been a tough one. Federations such as the WWE initially treated their female talents as side pieces. Luckily, times are changing. Aside from the Royal Rumble, the organization also launched the Mae Young Classic—a female-exclusive tournament named after the pioneering trailblazer and Hall of Famer.
Television dramas, such as Netflix’s GLOW (based on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), have also highlighted female wrestlers’ struggles. Set in the 1980s, the show depicts how female wrestling wasn’t as celebrated as it is in this current century. In an article for the San Antonio Express News, neophyte wrestler Alex Garcia acknowledges the stigma associated with female wrestling. “Women have to do 10 times more to be taken seriously,” she says. Beyond the flashy outfits they wear, the skills and athleticism female wrestlers display are giving their male counterparts a run for their money; they’re more than just pretty faces to look at during matches.
Although there’s still much more room for improvement, the women of wrestling continue to tough it out. Former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader-turned-wrestler Tanea Brooks is very appreciative of the fact that female wrestlers’ drive and ambition in the ring are shown. “(They’re) making huge sacrifices and working out day in and day out,” she says. With all this progress, there’s nowhere to go but up for them.
What are your thoughts on the women of wrestling? I’d be very interested to hear them. Just leave a message below so we can get the conversation started. You may also share them on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. For more on wrestling, you may check out my book, Fritz von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw, which follows the life of one of the sport’s greats.
Dasgupta, Riju. 2018. “Women’s Wrestling is No Longer a Sideshow at WWE.” The Quint. July 10. Accessed July 12, 2018. https://www.thequint.com/sports/olympic-sports/women-wrestling-netflix-glow-ronda-rousey
Goodwin, Cody. 2018. “Iowa Wrestling Hosts First All-Girls Camp to Boost Conversation on Girls in the Sport.” Hawk Central. July 9. Accessed July 12, 2018. https://www.hawkcentral.com/story/sports/college/iowa/wrestling/2018/07/09/iowa-wrestling-program-hosts-first-ever-all-girls-camp-hopes-furthering-girls-wrestling-conversation/768929002/
Guzman, René. 2018. “Women’s Wrestling Now Spotlights Athleticism and Skills over Looks.” San Antonio Express News. July 3. Accessed July 12, 2018. https://www.expressnews.com/entertainment/article/Women-s-wrestling-now-spotlights-athleticism-13047698.php.
Walker, Rob. 2018. “TV’s All-Female Wrestling Drama Glow Blazes a Trail.” The Guardian. June 23. Accessed July 12, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jun/23/glow-all-female-hit-blazes-trail-britney-young-netflix.