On this episode of World Champions Podcast I'll take a look into the life of the one and only Mildred 'Cyclone' Burke, a woman who not only defined what a woman wrestling champion should be but upped the ante for every male champion out there. She wasn't the first, though: women like the strongwoman Minerva, Cora Livingston, and Barbara Ware preceded her in breaking social taboos and grappling. Burke was the first one to make a real living at it and become a true star, and in her wake came many other top wrestlers like Nell Stewart, Babs Wingo, and Mae Young. Still, the choking hand of paternalism always hovered, and for Burke it was made manifest in a horn-rimmed hustler named Billy Wolfe.
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On this week's World Champions Podcast head around the world and see how this amazing art had developed into the 1950s. As has been brought out in earlier episodes, the primary development of professional wrestling has occurred in the United States. That doesn't mean it all happened there. From our neighbors Canada to our linguistically more distant cousins in Mexico, all of North America has a history with professional wrestling. Through the magic of steam engines, radio waves, and television, grappling stars and styles from the States spread over to Europe and to Asia. One thing that has been apparent from the earliest days is that physicality transcends language and everybody, no matter how lowborn they appear or how highborn they think they are, reacts to the sight of someone giving it their all to win.
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A golden age of wrestling on TV is the subject of this week's World Champions Podcast: when a coast-to-coast program made new stars and local stations made promoters a small mint. Not everyone was on board with the new medium, though, and even those who embraced it found themselves neck-deep in hot water. Under Fred Kohler, Chicago would rise to become the premier wrestling city in America, and nobody was quite comfortable with that development.
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On this episode of the World Champions Podcast take a look at the incredible career and achievements of the man who would forever epitomize the role of world heavyweight champion, Lou Thesz. So great that he never needed a tagline, never needed a costume, needed nothing but his own skills. By being who he was and where he was Thesz changed what pro wrestling was and allowed it to evolve from a sport into a smartly-worked and engaging art.
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The cover picture's original artwork is by Vaughn Bass (who's signed the work) and slightly edited by myself; I found it via Google Image Search and it was the best color image to use. I claim no rights on the image and I'm not expecting profit to be made from its use (though I am asking for donations for the podcast). If the owner of the image would like it replaced I am certainly willing to comply.