But in pro wrestling, where characterization is a part of the performance, and one might have expected hideous minstrel show-type portrayals, the black women were simply lauded as extraordinary athletes and as attractive, desirable women. Johnson was particularly agile in the ring, throwing dropkicks, a version of a flying headscissors and a move newspapers at the time marveled at, the atomic drop. Like, maybe a battle royal named after them at WrestleMania or something. Johnson reveals in the upcoming documentary Lady Wrestler , directed by Chris Bournea, that the two would take judo and gymnastics classes at the Columbus YMCA on top of their pro wrestling training and strength training. The women endured the endorsed racism of the time—In Lady Wrestler, Johnson recalled how trips to the Southern states sometimes required hiding in the trunk if they were in the car with a white person—and yet they were still huge draws.
Brielle. Age: 23.
Women's wrestling was still riding high in the early s and women across the country saw Burke, and no doubt her income, and wanted to follow suit—including a trio of sisters living in Columbus, Ohio.
Sophie. Age: 24.
The Forgotten Story of the First Black Female Wrestlers
Babs Wingo was the first of the three to start training as a professional wrestler, followed by Ethel Johnson. By , they were drawing 9, fans at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, and Johnson and Wingo received top billing alongside Gorgeous George, one of the most famous wrestlers of all time. The women endured the endorsed racism of the time—In Lady Wrestler, Johnson recalled how trips to the Southern states sometimes required hiding in the trunk if they were in the car with a white person—and yet they were still huge draws. During their peak, Johnson, Wingo, Wimbley, and Scott would have been among the highest paid black athletes in the United States.