The first-ever NWA World Women’s Champion Mildred Burke will be recognized for being the trailblazer that she is at NWA’s EmPowerrr on Aug. 28.
Burke, who is often written out of history, perfected her craft and went above and beyond to work in a male-dominated industry. The owner and president of NWA, Billy Corgan is ready to bring prestige back to Burke’s name as he has acquired her original title belt. The NWA World Women’s Championship is often to referred to as “The Burke.”
While speaking to Sports Illustrated, Corgan said the following:
“As it pertains to female wrestling on the international stage, it begins with Mildred Burke,” says Corgan. “She is the one who defined it, and we are still in her shadow.”
“A title defines a wrestler’s journey. In many ways, it is the source of their power. In Burke’s case, it was proof that she accomplished a feat extremely rare. This secures that her legacy and story will be told going forward.”
Corgan continues, “I want to share the belt with the public. So many of wrestling’s treasures aren’t on display. This was a rare opportunity to reclaim a very important piece of the NWA’s past. Burke’s legacy runs so deep, and we intend to embrace her journey overcoming endless obstacles to rise to absolute heights on the world stage.”
Corgan obtained the belt from Burke’s grandaughter, Wendy Koep. Burke passed away in 1989 and posthumously was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in its legacy wing in 2016.
“My father worked so hard to get her the recognition she deserved, so this is very meaningful,” says Koep, who is working on her grandmother’s memoir, which could be released as soon as 2022. “I’m so happy that the NWA is going to take such good care of the belt. It was just sitting in a safe in my storage unit. There were so many people who were so interested in it, and that’s when Billy got ahold of me. He is the right person to have the belt and take care of her legacy.”
Corgan wrapped up the interview adding to the importance that Burke has on women’s wrestling.
“Mildred’s story is so timely,” said Corgan. “Everything we are currently seeing, whether it’s women main-eventing Dynamite on national television or Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair headline at WrestleMania, it all goes back to one person, and that’s Mildred Burke.
As steward of this legacy, it’s our responsibility to honor how we got here. She connects to the history of the NWA, which we are reinventing in the 21st century, so we’re doing more than just restoring her legacy. She’s riding shotgun with us.”
NWA EmPowerrr will air on Aug. 28 and the title will be defended by current champion Kamille against Legit Leyla Hirsch. Whoever walks out of EmPowerrr as champion will face the winner of the first-ever Women’s Invitational Cup the next night at NWA73.
The belt has been previously held by Allysin Kay, Thunder Rosa, Amazing Kong, MsChif, Debbie Combs, and the longest-reigning recorded champion Jazz. The belt was originally won by Burke in 1935 but was first recognized by NWA between 1950 and 1953.
EmPowerrr will also have the NWA Women’s World Tag Team Titles return for the first time in 37-years. Three teams have been announced so far in a four-team tournament. The Hex (Allysin Kay & Marti Belle), Hell on Heels (Renee Michelle), and Red Velvet & KiLynn King have been announced.
Credit for transcription and article to Sports Illustrated.