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The year is 1954, and long-reigning World Women's Wrestling Champion Mildred Burke is well into her 18th year of her second reign as the champion, soon within sight of a 19th year with her prized title.

Her then-husband and manager, women's wrestling promoter Billy Wolfe, had done much to elevate women's wrestling from sideshow status to the equal of men's wrestling, with female grapplers often headlining on cards usually dominated by male wrestlers; not only did the World Women's title become prominent during Burke's reign, but Wolfe had also created a World Women's Tag Team Championship, and several regional women's titles were also created during that time frame.  When Wolfe took out membership in the National Wrestling Alliance in 1949, Burke's title and the other women's championships came under NWA oversight while she and the other female wrestlers under Wolfe's management became available to all NWA members.

The last few years of her title reign, however, has proven to be rocky behind the scenes.  For all the good he had done for women's wrestling, Wolfe developed a reputation as a womanizer and often cheated on Burke with the women who traveled with him as part of his stable.  Burke soon had enough and in 1952, she divorced Wolfe, who went out of his way to make trouble for his ex-wife by freezing her out from other NWA promoters, who then declined to officially recognize women's wrestling at their annual meeting in Chicago in September 1953, which Burke had been forbidden from attending due to Wolfe's manipulations.  Wolfe, who previously had sold out his share of the women's wrestling business to Burke and was prohibited from promoting for five years as part of a non-compete clause, violated the clause after just a few months by getting back into promoting and engaged in anti-competitive practices against Burke, whose company Attractions Inc. declared bankruptcy and was placed in the hands of a trustee who then named Wolfe as its administrator.

After Wolfe weaseled his way back into the women's wrestling business, things became very contentious between him and Burke.  Wolfe had organized a tournament in Baltimore that saw his daughter-in-law June Byers gain recognition as a World Women's Champion (albeit not universally recognized), while Burke (who had founded her own promotion, the World Women's Wrestling Association, in the early 1950s) continued on as champion.  Burke also had the support of the majority of female wrestlers in the sport, who refused to wrestle for Wolfe despite his bold proclamation of being the booker for Burke and her stable of wrestlers.

With the animosity between Burke and Wolfe about to come to a head, a match had been arranged between Burke and June Byers in Atlanta on August 20 for Burke's NWA World Women's title.  Burke, who had some legitimate heat with Byers because of the latter's association with Wolfe through her marriage to his son, trained for the match with the intent of keeping her title, but Wolfe had other ideas, engineered through some behind-the-scenes shenanigans with Atlanta's wrestling commission...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This diary, created to follow the course of an up-and-coming young wrestler over the course of her career following training under the guidance of Mildred Burke, will combine fantasy elements with real life.  It will also be presented as an alternate history from the real world.

As part of that alternate history, there will be two major changes to the timeline in this diary:  One, in this alternate history, midget wrestling never existed, so women's wrestling has more prominence here and would be a more frequent presence on wrestling cards here than in real life (IRL).  Two, the sport of roller derby was never invented in this timeline (ITTL); as a result, the women who had been involved in roller derby IRL instead become professional wrestlers ITTL.  Also, the main focus in this diary, the young up-and-comer, will be a real-life personality who never had involvement in wrestling IRL.



Edited by Old School Fan
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Nearly an hour after the end of the Atlanta Auditorium card and the arena had emptied out as the crowd went home, Mildred Burke had just finished getting dressed after showering and was packing her gear as she got ready to head back to the hotel where she was staying when a knock came on her locker room door. A female voice called from outside the door, "Ms. Burke, you okay in there?"


Though she felt somewhat tired after the night's events stemming from her match against June Byers, Mildred decided not to turn the visitor at the door away. "Sure, come on in," she said.


The door opened and a young member of the arena's concession staff opened the door. "The ring crew's just finishing taking the ring apart and the staff's about to lock up soon after the chairs get put away," the staffer said. "You all set to go?"


Mildred let out a resigned sigh as she zipped up her sports bag. "Yep, just about," she replied. "I just had to hang back here a while. I love the fans and their support and all, but I just didn't feel like facing them after what went down after the match got called."


"Sorry to hear that," the snack bar staffer said. "I watched some of your match from the snack bar in between serving the last few customers tonight and I saw you came back strong against Byers during the second fall after you lost the first. I was sure you'd take the next two falls and win, so I can't figure why the match got stopped."


"I can," Mildred said as she grabbed her bag and left the locker room with the staffer. "In one word - Billy."


"Who?" the puzzled staffer asked as she and Mildred walked down the backstage hallway.


"My ex-husband and ex-manager," Mildred replied, referring to Billy Wolfe. "It's a long story, though. Two years of dealing with him and his shenanigans and his politicking after I called him out on his skirt-chasing and left him over it. It wouldn't surprise me that he got the ears and the wallets of a few people and influenced the outcome of the match in Byers' favor."


"Not very good," the staffer said out of sympathy. "But you'll get a rematch and get your title back from her, right?"


"She and Billy can say what they want," Mildred replied, talking about the match outcome. "But as far as I'm concerned, she didn't take me in two falls, so she can't claim to be a legitimate champion. The way I see it, I'm still the rightful champion and nothing can change that unless it changes legitimately in the ring."


"Okay," the staffer said as she and Mildred approached an exit door to the parking lot where Mildred's car was parked nearby. "What'll you do in the meantime?"


Mildred thought about her answer a moment. "I'll figure out something," she said with a half-smile as she opened the door and stepped through it into the night air.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Indeed, Mildred would do something about it in due time. Proclaiming that she had not legitimately lost to Byers despite the latter's claims of being the new NWA World Women's Champion, Mildred returned to her promotion, the World Women's Wrestling Association and recognized herself as its World Champion. She then took a group of some of her wrestlers and went on a tour of Japan that November to face off against some of that country's top female wrestling talent in a series of events that helped greatly popularize women's wrestling in Japan. She continued to defend her title until she retired from active wrestling in 1956.


In the next few years that followed, Mildred used her WWWA promotion as a training school for young female wrestlers looking to break into the sport. During that same time frame, one of her former students, a brash hotshot who began going by the ring name Slave Girl Moolah, began making waves of her own the same year Mildred retired when she won a tournament in Baltimore on September 18, 1956 to gain recognition as a World Women's Champion in the Northeast (though not universally recognized by the NWA, which continued to recognize Byers).


Billy Wolfe, meanwhile, tried to make lighting strike twice as he looked for his "next Mildred Burke" to recapture the magic and the capacity crowds his ex-wife had drawn as NWA World Women's Champion, coming close with a find named Karen Kellogg (who won a tournament to become the World Women's Lightweight Champion on November 3, 1962 in Bluefield, West Virginia). Wolfe, however, died of a heart attack on March 7, 1963 in Warrenton, Virginia, and Kellogg, whom he had been grooming for stardom, faded from the wrestling scene soon after.


Going into the 1960s and the events of the early part of that decade (including JFK-mania), Mildred continued training new students for wrestling careers. Little known to her at the time, though, one prospective student would come into the picture in due course...

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Love those diaries with a "main character", feels like an RPG


I'll be following this!


Yeah I like it too. And since we are using wrestling’s past when they actually “wrestled” (hard to believe I know) I’m in.


Thanks for the support so far. This diary's going to cover quite a bit of ground and from what I have planned, will stretch into the 1980s (during the Rock 'n Wrestling era and the heyday of Jim Crockett Promotions and its later transformation into WCW) to about the early 1990s, so stay tuned. :D

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Worldwide Wrestling Associates @ Olympic Auditorium

February 12, 1964 - Los Angeles, California




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The Mummy defeated Tony Perez by pinfall following a bodyslam.


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Ernie Ladd defeated Ted Christy by pinfall following a legdrop.


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Édouard Carpentier defeated The Preacher by pinfall following a Senton Bomb.


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The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Heffernan) defeated Pepper Martin & Prince Ava when Heffernan pinned Ava.


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Ernie Ladd wrestled a second time and defeated The Preacher (also wrestling a second time) by submission to an Abdominal Stretch.


WWA World Heavyweight Championship


Fred Blassie © battled Marcel Martel* to a time-limit draw.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


* IRL, Marcel Martel was a Canadian country music singer-songwriter from Quebec, active from the 1940s until his death in 1999. ITTL, he instead became a professional wrestler active in his native Quebec and across several territories in Canada and the United States, using a cowboy gimmick for his wrestling persona. How he ties into this diary will be revealed in the next post.

Edited by Old School Fan
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February 1964


America was still reeling following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. In its wake and following the swearing-in of then-Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson to the top office soon after the event, social change was soon to come on the horizon. In need of ways to mend from the JFK assassination, Americans looked for those ways through various means - including welcoming the arrival of Beatlemania to American shores, which itself musically heralded the arrival of the British Invasion. Color television became increasingly popular as the Big Three networks broadcast most of their programs in color (though alas, none of them offered professional wrestling on their schedules, the last networked wresting show until 1985 - Wrestling from Marigold Arena from Chicago - having ended national airing to become a local show in 1955, several years before the advent of color TV). In the sports world, the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay, having just changed his name to Muhammad Ali, was capturing the imaginations of boxing fans everywhere en route to capturing the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship (and was still over a decade away from having some involvement in wrestling), while Shea Stadium, the new home of baseball's New York Mets and the future site of three WWWF/WWF-produced Showdown at Shea wrestling supercards, would open its doors for the first time that April.


In wrestling itself, Lou Thesz had recently celebrated the first anniversary of his third reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion (and his sixth reign as a World Heavyweight Champion overall, dating back to his first World title win in 1937 in the pre-NWA era), while Bruno Sammartino had not yet completed his first year as WWWF World Heavyweight Champion, Dick the Bruiser and Wilbur Snyder would establish the World Wrestling Association in Indianapolis, and June Byers recently gave up the NWA World Women's Championship she had won from Mildred Burke via controversial means back in 1954 when she retired at the start of the year following injuries from what became a career-ending car accident in late-1963, leading to the Fabulous Moolah, who had won her own version of a World Women's Championship in 1956 and was in the midst of establishing her own dynasty in women's wrestling, becoming universally recognized as the NWA World Women's Champion.


Meanwhile, nearly a year after the death of Billy Wolfe and the resulting decline of his influence in women's wrestling in favor of the rising influence of Moolah, a newcomer had just arrived at the address of the Mildred Burke Wrestling School in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Encino, California and was about to step through its front door...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




The secretary/receptionist in the front office at Mildred's training facility was sorting through some papers at her desk just before noon when a young lady came through the door. "Hi there, can I help you?" the secretary asked upon seeing the girl.


"Yes, I'm here to see Mildred Burke," said the girl, who spoke with what sounded like a slight French-Canadian accent. She was also tall in appearance, her brown hair was styled in a flip bouffant with bangs combed to one side (similar to that favored by former First Lady Jackie Kennedy) and she looked very pretty, in a girl-next-door kind of way.


"She's busy in the back with her students right now, but it's almost lunch hour anyway, so I'll go get her. Follow me," said the secretary, who motioned for the girl to follow her through a doorway to a space in the back, set up with a wrestling ring and other training equipment. In the ring, Mildred was busy instructing several women on how to properly take falls when the secretary called her over and said something to her. Mildred looked over at the girl standing at a distance from the ring, then nodded and turned back to her students.


"Okay, that's it for now - let's break early for lunch," Mildred said to the other women, who then dispersed from the ring to head off for lunch. Walking over to the girl, she then greeted her. "Hi, my secretary said you wanted to see me," Mildred said, extending her right hand for a handshake. "And your name..."


"Martel," said the girl, accepting the handshake. "Renée Martel." *


"Hi, Renée," Mildred replied. "You don't sound like you're from around here. Where're you from?"


"Quebec, Canada," Renée said. "From Drummondville, actually. I'm here because my father's wrestling around here right now."


"Ah, I see," Mildred said, nodding. "Who's your father?"


"Marcel Martel," Renée replied. "He's working for the Eatons here in Los Angeles."


"Oh, that Marcel Martel," Mildred said with a laugh upon hearing that name, familiar with his exploits in local promotion Worldwide Wrestling Associates as she followed that promotion on TV. "I figured he sounded familiar. So, what brings you here?"


"I had a talk with my father and I asked if I could come to your school and get trained by you," Renée said. "He said it'd be okay if it was alright with you."


"Ah, okay," Mildred said. "How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?"


"Sixteen," Renée replied. "I'll be turning 17 in June."


Upon hearing Renée mention her age, Mildred became uncertain. "Well, I don't generally train anyone who's under age 18," she reasoned.


"I have some background in amateur wrestling," Renée then explained. "Over at my school, my father was able to influence it to start an amateur wrestling program for the girls at the school. He also has a strong background on the amateur side and in shoot wrestling too - he got that training years ago from the promoter up in Calgary, Stu Hart."


When she heard all that (and especially after hearing Stu Hart be name-dropped), Mildred then became intrigued. "Well, now you've got my interest," she said. Heading toward the door from the training space to the front office, she then said to Renée, "We should talk about that over lunch. There's a coffee shop half a block down the street from here we can go to. Did you come here by yourself?"


"Oh, no," Renée said. "My father brought me down here and he's waiting in his car out front."


"Okay, let's invite him along for lunch then," Mildred said as she and Renée approached the front door leading out to the street. "While we're there, maybe he can tell me about his time training with Stu Hart."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


* IRL, Renée Martel was a Canadian pop/country music singer/songwriter from Quebec, active from the mid-1960s until her death on December 18, 2021. ITTL, she will be the main focus of this diary as she seeks to train to become a professional wrestler under the mentorship of Mildred Burke. Her image, taken c. 1966, is the one that appears at right in the picture in the lead post at the top of this thread.

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After returning from lunch to her wrestling training facility, Mildred Burke, accompanied by Marcel Martel and his daughter Renée, approached the wrestling ring where some of Mildred's students had already stepped inside while others were still hanging around the ringside area on the floor. "Okay everyone, let's step back in and pick up where we left off," Mildred called as she climbed up the ring steps and stepped between the ropes.


"Well, this is it, Renée," Marcel said to his daughter as he looked over to her. "How're you feeling?"


"A little nervous, but I can do this," Renée replied as she looked into the ring, seeing all the other ladies there as they prepared to resume their training.


"Okay, good girl," Marcel said in encouragement as Renée started to get in the ring as well. "Give it your best."


"Alright, we've got a newcomer here joining our ranks today," Mildred announced to her other students as Renée stepped through the ropes. "Girls, this is Renée."


"Hi," Renée greeted the other students in a slightly shy manner, with most of the girls returning the greeting.


"Okay, we'll continue with learning how to take falls properly and to protect yourselves while doing so," Mildred said. "Like I mentioned before, you need to make sure to tuck your chin against your chest when you do the falls. Yvonne, show everyone how it's done." Right then, Yvonne, a beehive-haired brunette, stepped up and demonstrated a fall to the mat as Mildred instructed, then repeated the move while the other girls watched.


"Now, since you're new here and you've seen how it's done, Renée, want to give it a try?" Mildred said.


"You kidding?" Yvonne remarked, adding to one of the other students in a snide aside, "She looks like she'd break a nail and break down in tears if she tried it." The girl Yvonne remarked to, a blonde wearing her hair in a flip bouffant similar to Renée's hair, simply rolled her eyes.


"Anything else you want to add, Yvonne?" Mildred spoke up after catching the wisecrack her student made.


"Nope, nothing," Yvonne said, raising her hands while pretending innocence.


"Okay, Renée, go ahead," Mildred said. Stepping to the middle of the ring, Renée attempted a fall to the mat, remembering to tuck her chin as she did so. "Alright, good for a first try," Mildred said encouragingly. "Just keep practicing and you'll have it down pat before you know it."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


After a week of the students learning to do falls, rolls and bumps in the ring, Mildred soon moved on to teaching her students to run the ropes in the ring. The girls were surprised to discover upon their first attempts at running the ropes that doing so was harder than it looked and that it was also painful to do at first, at least until they got used to it.


Soon, it came Renée's turn to take a run at the ropes, but as she bounded off the ropes, Yvonne, who was standing nearby, jutted her left foot out subtly, just enough to cause Renée to trip and fall to the canvas. Realizing that she had felt something trip her up and that she had passed Yvonne as it happened, Renée got back up and confronted her. "Hey, what was that?" she snapped at Yvonne.


"What? What're you talking about?" Yvonne said, feigning innocence again.


"You tripped me up as I passed by you when I came off the ropes!" Renée said angrily.


"Hey, if you can't do a simple move without tripping over your own two left feet, that's not my problem," Yvonne retorted, denying any wrongdoing.


"Hey, what's going on here?" said Mildred, who had overheard the argument as she came back into the gym after momentarily tending to some office business, as she stepped through the ropes to intervene between the two girls.


"Look," Renée said as she pointed at Yvonne, "ever since I first got here, all you've done is give me a hard time! I've had it up to here with it, and you're quitting it now!"


"Really? You want to make something of it?" Yvonne replied tauntingly. "If you do, then come at me, little girl - I'm ready."


Realizing what was about to happen as the other students stood back and surrounded the middle of the ring to egg the impending fight on, but knowing of Renée's amateur training, Mildred let it go but was prepared to intervene if Yvonne, who had developed a reputation for subtle bullying of some of the other students (particularly including Renée), tried anything foolish. Yvonne charged at Renée, but the teen girl caught her tormentor by surprise with a leg trip takedown, sending Yvonne down to the mat. Renée then got on top quickly and grasped her hands around Yvonne's waist to try to flip her onto her back, but Yvonne broke away and backed off momentarily.


"Oh, you want to do this?" said Yvonne, chagrined at getting bested by Renée with the takedown. "It's on now!" She then charged at Renée again in hopes of roughing her up and humiliating her, but Renée dodged the charge, caught her foe from behind and threw her with an amateur-style suplex, then pounced again and grabbed Yvonne's left leg as she tried scrambling to escape and attempted to flip her onto her back again with a half-Nelson before Yvonne bailed from the ring to the floor. The other students in the ring cheered and applauded Renée for her efforts at standing up to Yvonne.


"Okay, that's enough of that," Mildred said as she stepped in to settle things down. "Let's get back to work. Yvonne, come on back in."


"No thanks, I don't need this," Yvonne, stung at being bested by Renée and her amateur moves, said resentfully as she kicked the ring steps before she angrily stormed off toward the door to the front office. "I'm outta here!"


Watching Yvonne storm through the door and out of sight, the bouffant-haired blonde, named Margo, turned to Renée. "Hey, nice work," a smiling Margo said as she patted Renée on the back between her shoulder blades. "She had it coming too for the garbage she pulled on some of us here this past week."


"I just did what I had to," Renée replied with a shrug of her shoulders. "I never liked bullies anyway."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


After that night, Yvonne washed her hands of the training sessions and never returned to the wrestling school, choosing to seek employment elsewhere. On the other hand, Renée, Margo and the other students continued their training under Mildred; some dropped out as well over time after finding the training harder than they expected, but most of the girls stayed the course and made remarkable progress, particularly Renée. Marcel made time to attend a few of the sessions in between his matches with WWA to watch Renée's progress and was impressed at how his daughter was doing.

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April 1964


Two months into training at the Mildred Burke Wrestling School, Renée Martel and the other students got some news when Mildred stepped into the ring to start another day of training.


"Alright, girls, gather 'round," Mildred called to the trainees, who climbed into the ring. "I got a surprise for all of you here. I invited a guest trainer to stop by the gym today to give you some pointers on the topic of today's session and she gladly agreed to drop in, so let's hear it for our guest trainer today - Ann Calvello!" The students began applauding as veteran competitor Ann Calvello*, once a student of Mildred's herself, stepped through the ropes.


"Okay, okay, save the kudos for later," Ann said after acknowledging the girls' applause. "Now, today's lesson is something all wrestlers - even the aspiring ones - need to know all about, and that's the art of selling your opponent's moves. When your opponent does a move on you, it's your job to react to the move like it was done for real. When it's done right, that'll get the audience believing you really got hurt by the move, like a punch or a thumb to the throat.


"Now, I'm gonna need a volunteer to help me demonstrate how to sell a move," Ann continued. A few of the girls raised their hands as Ann scanned around the ring for someone to pick - then she locked eyes on her choice. "You there, come on up, hon," she said, pointing at Renée and beckoning her over.


"Alright hon, let's show how selling a thumb to the throat is done for example," Ann said as Renée went to stand beside her. "Now, watch what I do as I get her in a headlock," she then said whie using her left arm to headlock Renée. "I start quickly moving my thumb toward her throat, but I make sure to stop just short of actually hitting the target full-on and just make light contact instead." As she spoke, Ann showed how the move was done through demonstration.


"Now when I make contact with the thumb, you have to react like you were gouged in the throat for real and you need to time your reaction just right," Ann continued, then saying to Renée, "'kay, hon, you set to do this?"


"I'm ready," Renée said with a nod.


"Alright, here goes," Ann said, then she delivered the thumb shot to Renée's throat as she described. Renée reacted by clutching her throat and coughing, then staggering for a couple of steps before dropping to one knee, then she stood back up with her hands extended out and said "Ta-daa!" with a grin on her face as the girls laughed lightly.


Ann then went up to Renée and patted her on her shoulder. "Good job, kid, way to sell the move for a first try - just leave the last part you did out next time," Ann said, garnering more giggles from Renée and the other girls. "Okay, now everyone partner up and give it a try," she said as the students paired up to practice selling opponents' moves.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


After the training session wrapped up, Ann caught up to Renée as she got out of the ring. "I saw how you did in there during the session, you did great work," Ann said. "What's your name, by the way?"


"Renée," the teen girl replied. "Renée Martel."


"But really, out of all the girls trainin' here, you're really showin' a lot of promise," Ann said. "Mildred even told me she considers you one of her prized students. Keep at it and you just might go a long way in the business if you decide to make a career of it."


"Ah, merci beaucoup," Renée said with a grin and an embarrassed giggle. "You know Ms. Burke pretty well yourself, don't you?"


"She helped train me when I wanted to get started," Ann said. "Her husband back then, Billy Wolfe, supervised the training, but I found out quickly after I graduated just how much of a sleazebag Wolfe was, so I steered clear of him. Because of that, I didn't get much in the way of bookings until things fell apart between him and Mildred and I decided to side with her."


"Ah," Renée replied with a nod. "So how well have you done in wrestling since then?"


"I captured the Florida Women's title a few times while I was out that way," Ann remembered. "I also won titles in Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas over time. I even challenged Fabulous Moolah for her title a few times two or three years back, but I never got the belt from her. It wasn't for lack of trying, though - I outwrestled and dominated her in all our meetings, so she got a yellow streak and got herself disqualified to save her belt every time. Ever since then, she won't get in the ring against me anymore."


"You were that good against her?" Renée said.


"Pretty much anyone that gets in the ring against Moolah would be," Ann remarked. "I'll tell you something I found out a while back and quite a few other girls also did, Renée - as a wrestler, Moolah makes a much better politician. She may be the World Champion, but she's really a glorified bum who only gets by by fighting dirty, by controlling the women she trains and through manipulating promoters and being protected by them. She never could wrestle worth a damn - just ask any opponent she ever faced. Thanks to Moolah, women's wrestling is getting set back decades and the competitors and the sport aren't being taken seriously like they were when Mildred was wrestling."


"Oh, wow," Renée said, both fascinated by Ann's career to date and by hearing what Ann told her about Moolah.


"So if you decide to make wrestling a career, make the most of it," Ann advised Renée. "And above all, enjoy it. There'll be ups and downs, but there are few careers out there as exciting as wrestling is." Renée then smiled, pleased about the encouragement she got.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Thanks to the endorsement she got from Ann, Renée got through the rest of Mildred's training with flying colors and ended up graduating from the Mildred Burke Wrestling School with honors months later. Mildred advised her to stay in school for the time being and to wait until she turned 18 before making her ring debut, and she also encouraged Renée to stay in touch.


That would not be the end of Renée's training, however, as the winds of fate would take her and her father Marcel in a new direction soon afterward, specifically sending them up North...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




* Yep, that Ann Calvello, roller derby legend IRL. Due to roller derby never being invented ITTL, she trained for wrestling under Mildred Burke's mentorship and debuted in the ring in 1948, capturing several regional women's titles as noted above and becoming one of the premier villains of women's wrestling (though she also had periods of fan support as a hard-nosed babyface as well, including in her bouts against the perennially despised Moolah). She'll also appear again later in this diary as Renée advances in her career.

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Big Time Wrestling* @ Victoria Pavilion

October 23, 1964 - Calgary, Alberta




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Eric Froelich defeated Sandor Kovacs by pinfall following a dropkick.


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Karl Gotch defeated Mr. Guillotine by submission via a crossface chickenwing.


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Bob Morse defeated Igor Kalmikoff by pinfall following a powerslam.


NWA International Tag Team Championship (Calgary)


The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Heffernan) © fought Don Leo Jonathan & Marcel Martel to a time-limit draw.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


* Big Time Wrestling was the name Stampede Wrestling went by from 1951 to 1965.

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<p>Got as reader in me!</p><p> </p><p>

Interesting concept.</p><p> </p><p>

Looking forward to see where this goes.</p><p> </p><p>

Hail Fred Blassie! <img alt=":D" data-src="//content.invisioncic.com/g322608/emoticons/biggrin.png.929299b4c121f473b0026f3d6e74d189.png" src="<___base_url___>/applications/core/interface/js/spacer.png" /></p>

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October 1964




Arriving for a planned meeting at a huge house in the Patterson Heights neighborhood of Calgary, Marcel and Renée Martel started walking up the walkway toward the house's front steps.


"This is the first time I've been here, Papa," Renée said to her father about the house they were about to visit. "I'm a little nervous to meet him, but excited at the same time."


"Don't worry, dear, the nerves will pass," Marcel reassured his daughter. "We go back a long way from my training days with him after his discharge from the Navy. I was even one of his first lineup of wrestlers when he started promoting in Edmonton in 1948."


"I know, but I still don't feel any easier about it," Renée said as she and Marcel started going up the steps to the front door. Stopping at the door, Marcel knocked on it and waited a moment, then the door opened as a woman, a familiar face to him but someone new to Renée, answered.


"Marcel, hello!" Helen Hart said in her New York accent as she saw him at the door with Renée, then hugged him and welcomed the Martels inside. "Well, comment allez-vous?"


"Je me sens bien, merci," Marcel replied in French as he took his cowboy boots off and left them near the door. "I'm surprised the house isn't as noisy as it would be most of the time."


"Well, most of the kids are out seeing friends right now and Ross and Diana are down for their naps upstairs," Helen replied. Taking notice of Renée, she then added with a smile, "And this must be your daughter here."


"Yep, this is Renée," Marcel said, introducing the teen girl.


"Bonjour, Renée," Helen said, greeting Renée in French. "Vous avez l’air très jolie."


"Ah, merci beaucoup," Renée replied with an embarrassed giggle and a grin at the compliment. "You know French well enough?"


"Oh, I picked up a bit here and there, thanks to your father," Helen admitted.


A moment later, the front door opened again and a blond-haired teenage boy, aged 14, stepped inside. "Hey, Mom," the boy greeted Helen as he took off his coat and hung it up. "Is Dad around?"


"He's downstairs cleaning up there," Helen said, referring to the famous training area in the basement of the Hart house that would gain the nickname the Dungeon in later years. "He'll be up later to get dinner started."


"Okay," the boy said. As he was about to head to the dining room, he then spotted Renée standing with his mother and Marcel. "Wow, I haven't seen you here before," the boy said to Renée as he looked her over, looking somewhat google-eyed and fascinated with her.


Renée giggled at the boy's remark. "I'm just here with my father to see your father," she said. "I'm Renée."


The boy said nothing, but continued looking at Renée while Marcel watched with an amused grin. "Uh, are you still with us?" she then said, snapping her fingers to get the boy's attention, which brought him around.


"Oh, sorry," the boy apologized. "Hi, Renée, I'm..."


"Bruce, put your eyes back in your head," a gravelly-sounding voice then said, from behind him. Bruce, the second-oldest of the eleven Hart kids*, then turned and saw his father, Stu Hart, who had just come up from the basement.


"Sorry, Dad, didn't know you were there," Bruce said apologetically.


"Don't worry about it," Stu said. "Don't you have homework to do?"


"I'm on it," Bruce said as he excused himself to the dining room where his school books were.


Stu then turned to Marcel and Renée. "Don't mind Bruce, ever since he started noticing girls, it's like there ain't been a moment where a pretty face hasn't turned his head," he remarked. "Anyway, glad you made it here okay, Marcel - and speakin' of pretty faces, who'd you bring with you?"


"My daughter, Renée," Marcel said, introducing Stu to her. "Renée, this is Stu Hart."


"Hi, Renée," Stu said as he extended his right hand for a handshake. "Welcome to the zoo we call the Hart house."


"Hello, Mr. Hart," Renée replied as she accepted the handshake, noticing the strong grip the Hart family patriarch had. "Why do you call it a zoo?"


"It's a noisy and busy place most of the time when the kids are around," Stu explained. "Even more so when we have wrestlers staying here as guests."


"Ah, ça l’explique," Renée then said in French with a giggle in an aside to Marcel, who also had a chuckle.


"Anyway, besides the invite to dinner, I came to ask that favor of you that you said you'd do when I needed it," Marcel then said to Stu.


"Okay, what's the favor?" Stu asked.


"Renée wants to learn submission wrestling and I told her you'd be the best teacher for that," Marcel said.


"Whoa, hold on a sec," Stu said. "I don't usually train girls for wrestling myself. If any girls come to me wanting to get wrestling training, I recommend them to the Fabulous Moolah instead."


"I know, but Renée doesn't want Moolah training her," Marcel countered. "She hasn't heard good things about Moolah from some girls she met who dealt with Moolah in the past. I don't think Moolah teaches submission wrestling anyway, but you do and it's you Renée wants to have teach her about that."


"Well, I hope she knows what she's getting herself into," Stu said, hesitant to have to show Renée what would be involved.


"I do," Renée said with a nod.


"Okay then, Renée, be prepared to get stretched," Stu warned her.


"'Stretched'? What does that mean?" Renée wondered aloud.


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Down in the Hart house basement a few minutes later, Renée soon found out what getting "stretched" meant as she was screaming while Stu had a submission wrestling hold applied on her and had applied some pressure. "OW, that hurts!" she complained as she was kept in the hold.


"What? I'm only using half the strength on you that I normally do on the male students," Stu said as he then released the hold. "But you have to do this to improve your pain endurance so you'll be ready to step in the ring when it's time."


"I know," Renée said while catching her breath. "I didn't think it would be that hard, though."


"It's not supposed to be easy, Renée," said Marcel, who had been watching while his daughter had the hold put on her by Stu. "I learned the same style Stu did when we trained together."


Just then, Helen came downstairs after hearing Renée screaming from the living room. "Stu, what's going on?" she asked, worried about Renée.


"It's okay, Mrs. Hart, he was just showing me one of his wrestling holds," Renée explained.


"Well, go easy on her, Stu," Helen gently chided her husband before returning upstairs. "She's a girl and she's only about half your size."


After Helen left, Stu thought a moment. "Well, she does have a point," he then said. "This is why I'm hesitant to train girls for wrestling, I'd be concerned about hurting them during the training sessions."


"Mr. Hart, you shouldn't have to treat me differently in training just because I'm a girl," Renée said. "Like you said, I need to get used to it and I'm sure I can if you give me the chance."


"Yeah, there's that," Stu agreed. "You'd need to too because there may be times when you end up going against opponents that might weigh over 200 pounds and you'll need ways to offset the size disadvantage." Getting up from the wrestling mat on the basement floor, he then said, "I'll see what I can do about it. I gotta go up and get supper started anyway, but before that, I'll call in some favors from the athletic department at the UAC and get the ball rolling."


"The UAC?" a puzzled Renée asked.


"The University of Alberta in Calgary," Stu confirmed, speaking of the Calgary satellite campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton.**


"Oh, okay," Renée said as she and Marcel then followed Stu up the stairs from the basement to the kitchen. "While we're in the kitchen, could I get some ice from your freezer? I think I'll need it for the aches I got from that hold you used on me."


"Sure," Stu said with a chuckle. "But don't worry, the holds that get used on you in training, they'll come in handy for you if you ever need to use them at some point."


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As promised, Stu trained Renée in the finer points of submission wrestling and recruited amateur female wrestlers to spar with her to sharpen her skills. In due time, Renée had learned enough through her further training in the Hart house basement that Stu graduated her with honors. As thanks for the training, she suggested to Stu that instead of referring aspiring female wrestlers to Fabulous Moolah for training, he should send them to Mildred Burke instead as they would get superior training from her. As it would turn out, Renée would be the only female Dungeon graduate for decades until Stu's granddaughter, Nattie Neidhart, trained at the Dungeon in the early 2000s.***


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* Helen was just over a month pregnant at this point with who would turn out to be her and Stu's twelfth child and youngest son, Owen, born on May 7, 1965.


** The University of Alberta in Calgary was the previous name for what would become the University of Calgary when it became independent of the University of Alberta in 1966.


*** IRL, no female wrestlers trained at the Dungeon until Nattie Neidhart did so, primarily under her uncles Bruce and Ross Hart.


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May 1965


Over the previous months, the unmanned Gemini 2 spacecraft was launched by NASA on a suborbital flight to test out its various systems, while Lyndon B. Johnson, who had finished out the remainder of John F. Kennedy's term as President following JFK's assassination, was sworn in for his first full term as President after winning the 1964 election. Canada introduced a red and white maple leaf design as the country's new official flag, replacing both the Canadian Red Ensign and British Union Jack flags. Civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City, while unrest began brewing in the South over civil rights for African-Americans, and protests against the Vietnam War (which included draft card burning) began making headlines. The 1965 World's Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, New York, and characters from the Peanuts comic strip appeared on the cover of Time magazine. In sports, the Green Bay Packers won the NFL Championship over the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills beat the San Diego Chargers for the AFL Championship, the Montreal Canadiens captured the Stanley Cup by beating the Chicago Black Hawks, and Muhammad Ali retained his World Heavyweight boxing title in a rematch against Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine under controversial and unusual circumstances via the much-talked about "Phantom Punch".


In wrestling, Fred Kohler Enterprises, the Chicago-based promotion behind the nationally-televised Wrestling from Marigold Arena, closed up shop after 40 years in business, allowing Dick the Bruiser's World Wrestling Association to take over the Chicago territory. Famed wrestler Yukon Eric, best remembered for losing part of his left ear in 1952 as the result of a botched Killer Kowalski knee drop and the feud that stemmed from it, committed suicide via self-inflicted gunshot in a church parking lot in Cartersville, Georgia. A young Rocky Johnson, after making his debut in the Toronto area in 1964, began wrestling in his native Nova Scotia with the Provincial Sports Association and built up a fan following there. Meanwhile, in Montreal...


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Back in February 1958, Leopold Pigeon, then the president of the Montreal Athletic Commission, had banned women's wrestling in Montreal, denying female grapplers the right to ply their trade in the city alongside male wrestlers. Ever since then, wrestling fans in Montreal, as well as the female wrestlers themselves, had been pushing for the return of the ladies to the ring as they were a popular attraction included to spice up wrestling cards, but up to this point, the MAC had turned a deaf ear to the popular demands to bring back the women. But, as Bob Dylan once said in song, "The times, they are a-changin'"...


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At the head office of the Montreal Athletic Commission in downtown Montreal, Marcel and Renée Martel, along with Johnny Rougeau (the owner of Montreal promotion All-Star Wrestling* and one of its top stars), were waiting in the office waiting room for their scheduled appointment with the MAC's current president. "All this waiting for the meeting's almost as bad as waiting for a dental appointment," Renée remarked as she looked at her watch. "Do they do this to everyone that wants an appointment with them?"


"They're a pretty busy bunch of people," Johnny answered. "Eddie Quinn had to deal with them too before he retired and closed up his shop last year."


"And he was both the owner and promoter," Renée pointed out.


"Well, I'm not exactly chopped liver, am I?" Johnny said good-naturedly, making Renée laugh.


"I sure hope we can get the ban on women's wrestling in Montreal lifted," Renée then said. "It wouldn't really matter if I make my debut out of town, but I'd much rather debut here."


"All we have to do is have faith that we can succeed and we will, dear," Marcel assured Renée. "The Commission tried to hamper wrestling here before, but we always managed to bounce back and prevail."


"True," Renée agreed. Looking at her watch again, she then said, "Wow, how much longer before she gets here?"


"Who?" Marcel asked.


"Michèle," Renée said. "Johnny asked her to join us for the meeting and she's running late."


"Don't worry, she'll be here s..." Johnny started to say, when the office waiting room door opened and a young woman stepped through. Tall and raven-haired, she wore her hair in a flip bouffant that gave her a passing resemblance to American actress Mary Tyler Moore.


"Well, speak of the devil, we were just talking about you," Johnny said to the girl.


"Yeah, sorry I'm late," the girl, Michèle Richard**, said to the rest of the group. "The traffic outside's murder right now and I had to wait for two walk signals at the intersections after I parked two blocks away because I couldn't find a free space near here."


"But you made it, that's what counts," Renée said as Michèle took a seat beside her.


"Yep, I did," Michèle said. "I just hope the meeting doesn't run long - I don't want to end up getting my car ticketed if the meter runs out before the meeting ends."


"Don't worry about that," Johnny reassured Michèle. "If it happens, I'll cover your ticket."


"Good, thanks, Johnny," Michèle said with a sigh of relief.


"Of course, the cost of that ticket will have to come out of the pay for your next match," Johnny then added, seemingly jokingly.


Michèle's mouth dropped open in shock. "What, you think I'm made of money?" she said incredulously as Johnny, Marcel and Renée all started laughing.


Just then, the door to the Commission president's office opened and the office secretary came out. "You can all go in now, Mr. Durocher's ready to see you," the secretary said.


"Okay, thanks, Veronique," Johnny said as he, Marcel, Renée and Michèle all got up to file into the office for their meeting.


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About twenty minutes later, with the meeting ended, Johnny and the rest of the group left the office and stepped into the hallway to head for the elevator to the lobby of the office building where the MAC was headquartered. "I'm glad the meeting's over," Renée said as the group walked down the hallway. "I sure hope we were able to sell Mr. Durocher on why the ban on women's wrestling in Montreal should be lifted."


"I think inviting him to see that practice match between you and Michèle at the training gym on Thursday might help make that sale, Renée," Johnny said.


"Same here," Michèle agreed. "You know, I think Durocher must be new to the wrestling business because he either isn't a wrestling fan or he probably doesn't have a clue about it - he actually thought that my name really was Margot Bouchard*** and he didn't believe at first that my father's Ti-Blanc Richard**** when I had to correct him and tell him who I am."


"Or that you have to use 'Margot Bouchard' as your ring alias because you wrestle as a villain and you don't want to be connected publicly with your father because he wrestles as a good guy," Renée jumped in. "I think you might be on to something about Mr. Durocher and what he knows about wrestling."


"Well, as long as our practice match on Thursday convinces him," Michèle said. Checking her watch, she then added, "Hey, if we're gonna go for lunch, I need to go check on my car first to see if the parking meter ran out."


"Sure, go ahead," Johnny said, clearing Michèle to take the elevator first. "We'll be at that coffee shop across the street from here when you're done with your car."


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* All-Star Wrestling, Johnny Rougeau's promotion, was also known in French as Les As de la Lutte ("The Aces of Wrestling" in English).


** IRL, Michèle Richard is a Canadian singer from Quebec, active since the late 1950s. ITTL, she instead became a professional wrestler in May 1964 at age 18, but because of the ban on women's wrestling in Montreal and Quebec City at the time, she had to wrestle in the Canadian Maritimes and in smaller towns in Quebec (which were not under similar bans on women's wrestling). She will be a major supporting character in this diary as she becomes part of Renée Martel's inner circle.


*** As noted above, Margot Bouchard is the ring name used by Michèle Richard early in her wrestling career ITTL due to her wrestling as a heel.


**** IRL, Ti-Blanc Richard was the stage name used by Adalbert Richard, a Canadian musician from Quebec, active from the 1940s until his death in 1981, and he was the father of Michèle Richard. ITTL, he instead became a wrestler active in his native Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, using a lumberjack strongman gimmick for his wrestling persona.

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The meeting of Johnny Rougeau and his entourage to get the ban on women's wrestling in Montreal would pay dividends a few days later, as the lead story on the front page of this wrestling program would show:



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All-Star Wrestling @ Paul Sauvé Arena

May 13, 1965 - Montreal, Quebec




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Margot Bouchard defeated Claire Lepage* (making her debut here) by pinfall following an elbow drop.


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Ti-Blanc Richard defeated Yvon Racicot by submission to a bearhug.


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The Sicilians (Lou Albano** & Tony Altimore) defeated Larry Moquin & Louis Gubas when Albano pinned Gubas.


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Ilio DiPaolo defeated Bulldog Brower by disqualification when Brower threw DiPaolo over the top rope.


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* IRL, Claire Lepage is a Canadian pop singer from Quebec, active from 1965 to 1972 and again in the early 2000s. ITTL, she became a wrestler instead and would become part of Renée Martel's inner circle.


** Yep, the Lou Albano who started out with a mobster gimmick as a wrestler is the same Capt. Lou Albano who guided 14 teams to 17 WW(W)F Tag Team Championships, was a lynchpin in the WWF's Rock 'n Wrestling era in the 1980s and later played Super Mario in a kids' TV show.

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Shortly after finishing the opening match at the Paul Sauvé Arena, Michèle Richard arrived backstage in the hallway to the locker room area, where she met her father Ti-Blanc Richard, who had been discreetly watching the match from behind the curtain covering the hallway entry while waiting for his upcoming match. "So, Papa, how'd I do out there?" Michèle asked as soon as she passed through the curtain.


"You did alright on a bigger stage, dear," Ti-Blanc replied.


"And considering it was the first women's match in Montreal in seven years, I was a bit antsy at first," Michèle admitted. "On top of that, even after wrestling for a year, it still feels funny having to wrestle under an alias instead of using my own name," she added, referring to her ring name of Margot Bouchard.


"True, but you know we can't be associated publicly while we're wrestling on opposite sides of the rulebook," Ti-Blanc said, bringing up the necessity of keeping kayfabe.


"Yeah, that's true," Michèle said with a shrug, just as Claire Lepage, Michèle's match opponent, stepped through the curtain into the hallway, looking slightly pained. "Hey Claire, holding up all right?" she then asked the blonde girl.


"Okay, other than that I'm still a little sore from that stomp on the back you gave me," Claire said as she reached around with her left arm to reach between her shoulder blades and cringed as she did so. "That was a little harder than I expected."


"Ooohh, sorry about that," Michèle apologized. "I didn't intend it that way, but I had to make it look real."


"Well, while you girls sort things out, I gotta get out to the ring for my match," Ti-Blanc said as he excused himself to step through the curtain. "See you in a while, Michèle."


While Ti-Blanc headed to the ring (followed about a minute later by his opponent that night, Yvon Racicot), Michèle and Claire sat down to discuss their match and go over what they did when they got a visitor. "Hey girls, what's new?" a voice said, which got Michèle and Claire's attention as they looked and saw Renée Martel.


"Hey, Renée," Michèle greeted her friend upon seeing her. "I didn't think you'd be allowed backstage to see us."


"Well, the arena staff know me from seeing me with my dad, so they let me in even though I haven't debuted yet," Renée said.


"So how much longer do you have before you do get to debut?" Claire asked.


"Papa said I had to wait until I'm about to graduate from school," Renée said. "That comes up next month, so after that, that's when I finally get to debut. Mildred Burke gave me that same advice after I finished training with her last year."


"Who?" Claire said, having not heard of the women's wrestling legend.


"She was the World Women's Champion back when we were kids," Michèle explained. "Renée was trained by her while she and her family were living down in Los Angeles when her dad was wrestling there."


"Ah, okay," Claire then said with a nod.


"Say, Michèle," Renée then said, "after the matches, you want to join me for a late bite to eat? We can head to Dunn's Deli* downtown and discuss match strategy while we eat, since I know we're going to have to face each other in the ring at some point anyway."


"That'd be great, but I gotta work tomorrow," Michèle said with regret. "I'm still on call at Morgan's** for a while yet," she added, mentioning her day job as a department store sales clerk.


"If you want someone to go with for a late meal, Renée, I can go," Claire then offered.


"Sure," Renée agreed with a grin. "I talked with my dad about grabbing dinner out afterward on the way here and I'm sure he'd be glad to have you along."


"Perfect," a pleased Claire said as she got up from her chair. "In that case, I'll head off and shower first and get ready."


"Great," Renée said as Claire headed down the hall toward the women's locker room. Turning to Michèle, she added, "Sorry that you can't come along because of work, but it'll still be good having someone to talk wrestling with."


"Or about the boys you two are dating," Michèle said with a sly grin, giving Renée a nudge with her right elbow.


"Yeah, that too," Renée quipped, making both she and Michèle laugh.


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* Dunn's Famous Deli is a local chain of delicatessens in the Greater Montreal area IRL.


** Morgan's was a regional department store chain in Quebec and Ontario, headquartered in Montreal; as IRL, the Hudson's Bay Company bought Morgan's in 1960 and kept the Morgan's name for the Quebec stores until 1972 while converting the Ontario stores to the Bay name in 1965.

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June 1965


That month, shortly before her graduation from high school, Renée Martel got the news she had been waiting for when she got a phone call from Johnny Rougeau at the Martel family home in Drummondville, Quebec, letting her know she would be booked for her wrestling debut on a June 17 card in Montreal (nine days before her 18th birthday) at the Paul Sauvé Arena. The poster from that card is shown below:


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Predictions are welcome on the matches listed: :D


Renée Martel vs. Julie Painchaud

Marcel Martel vs. Joe Christie

The Sicilians vs. Larry Moquin & Louie Tillet

Antonino Rocca vs. Bulldog Brower

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