We wrestling fans use the word legend so much these days, but I think it's safe to refer to Klondyke Kate as a legend. For nearly two decades she has plied her trade all around the world, acting as not just an ambassador for British wrestling, but as an ambassador for women's wrestling. In this exclusive interview, Kate talks about her career, her matches, and her new wrestling school.
Firstly, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule for this interview.
Anything for you mate! Except it's been almost three decades!
Let's start at the beginning. Where did it all begin for the woman who would become known as Klondyke Kate?
If you've just read my column on one stop you'll know I started in the wrestling booths at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. At 14 I was then the youngest pro wrestler. I was given the name Klondyke Kate by a man called Tony Francis and I hated it but he said mark my words they'll
remember that name and he was right. For many months I wrestled what we called straights which were men and women coming up to take us on for money if I'd have lost I wouldn't have got paid for that match so I didn't lose!!!
What drew you to the wrestling business, and when did you decide that you wanted to become a professional wrestler?
I wanted to be a wrestler all my life watching World of Sport with my Nan and going to the local hall to watch people who I idolised Rocco, Billy Howes, Steve Logan, Gwynn Davies, Wild Angus it goes on and on.. I had never seen girls wrestling so I thought I was the wrong sex until I saw the girls in Blackpool but they were gorgeous and I looked a plain chubby kid.
Was it difficult breaking into the business, into what is essentially a man's world?
It was easy getting my foot in the door but boy did they drag me around like an old ragdoll! I paid for my passage into pro wrestling by the hammerings I got day in day out training on a garage floor with posts in the concrete. It wasn't nice believe me. However I believe it gave me a good sense of respect for all the people who did this for a living and it gave me the staying power which I think after 27 years it worked.
Who was your first match against, and were you at all nervous going into the bout?
My very first match was a tag mate August 18th 1977 at the Horseshoe Bar on Blackpool Pleasure Beach my partner was Rusty Blair and we were on with The Cherokee Princess and another new girl from Derby her name escapes me but after that bout she was gone never to return-poor cow she was dragged from here to breakfast time. It was spectacularly AWFUL! But I worked the crowd which got me a reprieve from being sent home on the next coach! To answer was I nervous well I was absolutely crapping myself to be perfectly honest.
When did you win your first title, and how did it feel to be recognised as a champion?
I can't actually remember that because believe it or not championships mean nothing to me it's the crowd and the atmosphere I love best, winding people up until they want to knock my head off, ooohhh I just love it so much!
On the All-Star Wrestling website, both you and the Sweet Saraya list your hard-core match for the WAW World title in April 2002 as your favourite match. What was it like competing in this match, and against an opponent like Saraya?
She's one hard faced tough bitch. I love wrestling her she's hard as nails and needs a good kicking to show her I'm still boss if you know what I mean! I know you have a soft spot for her Julian but I have too and it's at the bottom of my garden but the dog would only dig her up and munch on that skinny arse of hers. That night I remember well it was a hell of a hardcore match.
Who has been your toughest opponent, and why?
Hard to think really I suppose Saraya in a sense as she keeps me on my toes and runs me ragged but really I can't say I've been too worried about anyone. Girls that are coming in now wrestle like wet farts they wind me up because they've got no get up and go it's all got up and went. I could kick their backsides in for being so dozy.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Bobby Barron of course he was my mentor and when everyone said she won't make it he said oh yes she will. I hope he's watching me from somewhere nice. Also Butch Lynch he was so kind and patient with me when we trained. It was a tragic day when he died. Also Orig Williams, I loved those old rogues all of them.
What has been your happiest, and your saddest, moment in wrestling?
Happiest-Meeting my partner Justin Starr, having our 10 month old son Logan. Saddest-Yet to come when I hang my boots up and say goodbye to wrestling and mean it! That will be the saddest day of my life.
Being on the road as much as you have, you've probably got a number of embarrassing stories to tell. Could you pick one for us today?
I was wrestling at Tunbridge Wells, got thrown over the top rope, felt sick after the match. Woke up the next day with pins and needles down my whole left side, from my head to my toe. I got dragged to the doctors by my then partner Doc Dean to find out that I was eight and a half months pregnant without any knowledge of it. Wrestling all those months almost every day and the baby was still alive. Two weeks later I gave birth to a 7lb 11ozs boy who's now 17 and then got back in the ring two weeks later. Beat that for embarrassing!
Have you ever competed in front of a crowd where you feared for your own safety?
Have you got a couple of hours!!! Many, many occasions, too many to count actually. Mainly years ago crowds were more violent. I've been stabbed twice, hit by huge men and I mean hit punched, my nose broken by someone in a crowd also my finger broke.
Have you ever had any unusual requests from fans?
One I can't tell you about!!
Nothing really I can think about or that I can write in this interview all have been strangely rude!
Like many wrestlers, you?ve suffered from your fair share of injuries. What's been the worst?
Really I've broken many bones but always bounced back the worst injury I sustained was from a man in the crowd at Aberdeen Music Hall he stabbed me in the hand with a Stanley knife and severed the nerve in my thumb. He got a small jail sentence for it but he also got a kicking from Fit Finlay too, so that served him right!
You've competed sporadically over the past year or so. Can you tell us why this is, and if you're planning on returning to a full-time wrestling schedule?
I've answered your question Julian I've been off having a baby and at 42 I should know better! I want to return full time so anyone listening I'm waiting for your calls! I'm doing some but not as much as I'd like. If my new wrestling academy goes down well then it might be my new vocation it all depends on how things go.
Dare I mention the word retirement then?
Wash your mouth out QUICKLY don't you swear at me. You can go off a person really quickly you know!
How do you prepare for your matches?
Plenty of make up, a few minutes quiet time and then bobs your uncle ,well you didn't think I did 20 press ups with this body did you?
What's your opinion on the current women's wrestling scene in Great Britain, and who do you rate as the best of the current crop?
Mmmm mmmm mmmm now that is a difficult one and you're trying to get me into trouble. Not enough women. Too much emphasis on T&A haven't seen all the new recruits yet but heard enough. Given time Lisa Fury will do well, Erin Angel maybe if she listens to the right people. However, Pippa L'Vinn good as anyone else she just needs encouragement but she's been around a while. Minx I reserve my judgement she needs lots of work doing on her. Jetta ok but desperately needs new gear! She looks like she's dressed to go shopping. I've also heard of Ashley Paige heard she's been doing a bit of nose breaking wellll I'm dying to meet her!!!
And on a similar subject, what's your opinion on the current crop of women's wrestlers America and Japan?
Women in America are wrestling better thanks to the wonderful Fit Finlay who is training them at the moment but before their stance was sloppy, balance awful they look AMAZING but their wrestling ability was zero it used to really wind me up.
Some of the Japanese girls I wrestled twenty years ago are still going Devil Masami, Lioness Aska, Chico I worked with those girls back in 1982. I had it tough but I watch them on The Wrestling Channel and I think they just look dangerous. Trouble is no one seems to understand that you have to learn to walk before you can run and some of these do high flying stuff and can't put a basic hold or move on. This happens over here so often lads doing dangerous stuff and not knowing a simple hold. There are some amazing male workers in this country but what is lacking is psychology. Look you've got me off on one!!
If a wrestling promoter offered you a match against any woman currently competing, who would you pick?
Phew that would be hard I suppose I wouldn't mind a bit of a tussle with old skinny arse Saraya again. I kinda miss that raggy bitch.
You've just opened a wrestling school in Stoke with Justin Starr and Phil Powers. Can you tell us what you hope to achieve with this new venture?
Well for a start we open 5th and 6th June any enquiries please ring 07733190394. Keep that in Julian or I'll sort you out!!
We're going to have small numbers so we can give everyone a personal plan to suit their ability, I think too many and chaos ensues so nice and cosy each course. What I want to achieve is giving trainees value for money and the chance to promote themselves with our help. I've never ever been to anyone's training schools (invites welcome) so I can't say if we are the same but I don't think we will be. There's room for lots of training schools but only if they know exactly what they're doing it'd be no good going to a school where the trainers have had hardly any experience in a pro ring because I think you have to teach these trainees the whole package therefore only experience pro wrestlers should run schools. I'm not dissing anyone it's just my opinion and I believe trainees safety are in your hands. I certainly wouldn't want anyone training me that had only been around five minutes.
If just one student from your school becomes a star, would you consider this a job well done?
God yes I'd feel well blessed and proud. People think it's so easy to get in a ring, it is if you want to make an ass of yourself, but a good all round worker is so hard to find ,someone with oomph and charisma and that special something that makes people sit up and say, oh he's/she's different.
One of the most popular programmes on the new Wrestling Channel is the World of Sport programme, featuring classic British wrestling from down the years. Would you use any of these matches as an example to your students of what wrestling should be?
I would certainly show them some tapes of it but I wouldn't say this is how it should be. I would use it as a basis on which to build on as time moves on and tastes move with it. However, we did say we would teach all types of wrestling so maybe if someone wanted to be taught old school then we would certainly accommodate these people. It would be good to teach a mixture of styles more interesting and exciting.
Let's move on to a subject that many wrestlers seem to talk about these days - the internet. When we've spoken in the past you've voiced your dislike to a certain group of fans who follow the wrestling scene on the internet. Do you think the web has a negative influence on the wrestling business?
Not really there's room for all kinds of wrestling fans from wherever, I'm just a bit wary of smart marks for the simple reason everyone is entitled to their own opinion of which we should all appreciate and not bad mouth them for it BUT what winds me up is people who have never stepped in a ring and seem to know it all, that really p's me off because until you've stepped in the ring night in night out ripped your muscles a dozen times gone home crying because you can't lie down or sit up from having aches and pains all to entertain these smart marks who shout out crap if it looks like someone has done a move or hold wrong, jesus are we all perfect? If they'd been in the ring then I'd say yes you do know some things, but a great wrestler is someone who thinks he doesn't know it all. The one's who think they do know it all last five minutes and are gone.
These days there seems to be a new promotion opening in Britain every five minutes, whereas years ago there was only one or two. What's your opinion on the ever-growing number of wrestling companies in Britain right now, and would you prefer it if the majority of companies would forget all the politics and work together for the good of the sport?
I would like to see wrestling promoters come together and put their heads together and make British wrestling great again and with a little more thought and less bitching about each other wrestling in this country could be absolutely amazing. There are too many divides in ideas of how wrestling should be run though so I think we would be hard pressed to get everyone together and come to some amicable agreement of how it should be. Shame that.
With your knowledge and experience of the business, would you ever consider becoming a promoter yourself?
If it kept me in the wrestling business then yes I would and if I thought I could give people something different but I've yet to come up with any ideas - maybe I will though, you never know??
If you could change one thing about wrestling today, what would that be?
Cheeky [censored]s who talk to you like dirt like they've been around years and have no time to say hi I'm so and so how are you. A bit of respect goes a long way.
Do you have any plans to write your life story?
Are you going to help me? I've wrote two chapters and I did that six years ago I just need some inspiration to do more. Do you think anyone would be interested in my little life!!!
Away from the ring, what do you like to do?
I love going to concerts. I'm into Heavy Rock and Metal only this past five years though. Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Alice Cooper, Ozzy, Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Queensryche, it goes on and on. I also have kids which take up a load of my time my baby in particular doing mumsy things.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
47 and depressed to be that!!!
Finally, any last words for your fans?
If I have any let me know!!!!!
Kate, thank you for your time.