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Klondyke Kate put women’s wrestling first

Pioneers is a series dedicated to the women who pushed forward the evolution in women’s wrestling. Diva Dirt staff will highlight women with spotlight pieces all March, in honor of Women’s History Month.

When we’re not talking about the Litas and the Mae Youngs of the wrestling world, there’s a bevy of female grapplers who don’t get the credit they deserve in this industry. Among such names, one of the more understated names in the lot belongs to Klondyke Kate.

In the same vein as someone like Giant Haystacks or Big Daddy, Klondyke Kate was the premiere powerhouse of her era. She started wrestling at the age of 14-years old after being fascinated by watching women duke it out on the World of Sport. In an interview with Calling Spots Magazine, Kate recalled that she “only saw men [wrestle] then, no one had ever seen women on TV or anything like that so it was something [she] really enjoyed watching.”

For the next 35 years, Kate would bulldoze through her competition on the UK wrestling scene. She stood out among the rest thanks to her towering presence. Lasting over three decades in this business is an accolade in itself, but she also managed to add some gold to her resume. A fond highlight from her career came when she defeated Nicky Monroe in a tournament final to win the British Ladies Championship on the 1989 “Forty Minutes” episode of Raging Belles.

However, Klondyke Kate wasn’t Klondyke Kate 24/7. When she wasn’t wrestling, she was mild-mannered Jayne Porter and she was fighting personal battles of her own outside of the ring.

Truth be told, she gave the wrestling business far more from her life than it ever deserved. She’s broken bones, fingers, her knee, her foot, her elbow, her marriage and had regular bouts of depression. Becoming Klondyke Kate served as an escape for the very real, very scary world outside of those ropes.

“Being Klondyke Kate was like turning a button on and I could be that person full of confidence – but when I was outside of it, I was a totally different person,” she told The Mirror in an interview. “I would put on my costume and make-up and get in the ring – and then go home and stay in bed for three days.”

Because she was a heavyset woman, Kate never knew she was eight and a half months pregnant with her eldest son, Adam, until she suffered a bad bump on her stomach during a match. She went to the doctor the next day expecting an injury, but the scans found a baby boy. Two weeks later, young Adam arrived to this world and two weeks afterwards, Kate was back in the ring.

Her dedication to the wrestling world was unprecedented, but it also cost her a great deal physically. The worst of her injuries would convince Klondyke Kate to hang up her boots for good: she had six miscarriages.

“I think I have lost about six babies,” she told The Mirror in that aforementioned interview. “It was 100 percent because of the wrestling.”

With good reason, Kate lost her love for wrestling to the point that she couldn’t watch the stuff anymore. However, as she recalled during Toni Storm’s Pro-Wrestling EVE farewell address, it was a match between Storm and Kay Lee Ray that brought Kate to tears enough to fall in love with the business all over again.

For the past couple years now, Klondyke Kate has used the platform given to her to tell her story. Most recently, she told her story on BBC 1’s The One Show in a segment that garnered four million viewers.

While Kate’s contributions to this business weren’t appreciated until she retired, the good folks at Pro-Wrestling: EVE were able to present her with the honors that she deserves. Last December, Klondyke Kate became the first woman inducted into the Pro-Wrestling: EVE Hall of Fame. She was crowned at the Bishopsgate Institute for EVE’s SHEvivor Series, where she will forever be immortalized.

Now, rather than scrap herself, she watches her daughter wrestle from the sidelines. While she was initially terrified to see her daughter step into the business that destroyed her body, Klondyke Kate looks on as a proud mother to Connie Steele and supports her every step of the way.

In addition to inspiring her daughter, Klondyke Kate paved the way for a slew of plus size female wrestlers – like Viper, for example – to make a killing not only on the wrestling circuit, but the British wrestling circuit, more specifically.

Klondyke Kate has contributed far more than just blood, sweat and tears to the wrestling industry and deserves to be mentioned among the top women who contributed to today’s Women’s Evolution in professional wrestling.

Cheers to a revolutionary British pioneer who has done this business and her country proud.

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