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New York

Wrestling parties in New York

Wrestling Party

Drawing by artist Dmitry Bilyk

My name is Barbara. I am an American retiree. I was born in Poland in 1937. When I was just one year old my parents managed to escape the country and to relocate to Sweden (it was a year before the WWII began). Then in 1952 we moved to America. In 1956 - 1957 I was a member of a female wrestling team.

The events I want to tell about happened when I was about nineteen. My family lived in New York on the border of the two boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens. Right after I had finished high school I started working in a big department store in Manhattan where I was selling menswear. That time I was well-built blond girl as tall as 6. Usually, sales persons in the department were men but I was kept there because male customers paid attention to me and delayed in the department, which was good for the business. One fine winter day a handsome polite gentleman in his forties stopped in the department.Fabulous Moolah I spent plenty of time with him while he was selecting a suite and we had a lot of conversations beyond the suit matter. He introduced himself as Jack. All the sudden, he offered me an unusual deal. He said that every Sunday he had a party in his luxury apartment and he intended to organize light wrestling matches between girls. He said the girls would be paid very well. He also said that selected girls had to have some special training in the athletic gym where they would learn wrestling basics. He was going to pay for that too. At that time the combination of words womens wrestling sounded weird for me. I had never heard about such a thing; we didnt have TV, so I hadnt seen women even in pro wrestling that already existed (much later I learned that just in 1956 pro wrestler Fabulous Moolah got the very first WWF title for women). To me wrestling was a strange male world where sweaty fierce guys inhabited The gentleman assured me though that such matches would represent some kind of entertaining games. He added that any injuries were out of questions. It sounded tempting and I said I needed a day to think it over My parents were not too happy about the offer but they never had enough money, so they gave their blessing and I called the man and accepted his offer.

In a few days a white limousine stopped by my house and I was taken to a big gym in West Side where I met the trainer and five other girls. All the girls were in their early twenties and all of them were tall and solidly built. I seemed to be the youngest and the slimmest among them. Jack also was there and he briefly explained what he expected from us. He said that he didnt want any fake or theatrical actions, he wanted the girls to wrestle for real. He added that we should compete honestly and follow the trainers instructions. Then Jack left the gym At that moment I was unable even to think about wrestling with anyone, especially with those big girls. I was scared of that and got upset. But the trainer encouraged me saying that I had a good athletic look. Actually, he trained little boys in wrestling and had never dealt with girls but he turned out to be smart and flexible... We got very nice uniform: athletic pants and sport shirts. Then we began doing some exercises with small dumbbells under the trainers supervision.

In a few weeks the trainer explained what athletic wrestling is about. He told us about some basic wrestling principals: two wrestling positions - the upper one (standing) and the lower one (on the ground, parterre); pins and simple techniques. He was quite clear: In a wrestling match you have two major tasks: taking an opponent down (bringing her to a lower position) and pinning her (securing a fall over). Since you have achieved the first goal, you try to achieve the second one. But even before you take an opponent down you should foresee a subsequent situation on the ground. If you are lucky, you will manage to start pinning just standing. He also told us about using an opponent strength and weight for our benefit; he said that opponents arms, legs, neck and body might be used as good levers for turning her or taking her down. He mentioned many other interesting things. It was the basis (perhaps, simplified) and we always remembered it. He illustrated his words sparring with another wrestling trainer. Then I just realized that wrestling was art and science rather than a fierce brawl (as I had imagined). A lot of water has flowed under the bridge but I still remember almost every his word. Finally, he called his boys and they wrestled each other in front of us. In certain moments the boys were interrupted and ordered to slow down in order to demonstrate some wrestling techniques.

Training Training Then he asked us to make pairs and to try ourselves in wrestling. He said that it was very important for us to overcome our embarrassment and to get used to physical contest. I was paired with the girl who was shorter than I but much heavier. We were supposed to wrestle on a soft carpet, quite different from the mat where boys competed. We both felt very uncomfortable and constraint. We had never wrestled before and we were really embarrassed. I was afraid to do something harmful for the opponents body The trainer though said that we couldnt understand what wrestling is until we were engaged in a physical contest. He convinced us that if we started wrestling we would find the right way to do that. He was carefully watching our unskillful embracing and trampling and made remarks and prompts. I remember a few first matches very well The trainer kept ordering, Press stronger! Try to overturn her! It was very unusual feeling of the strong physical contact with another female body. Let me recall my very first match. I didnt realized how it happened but we instantly found ourselves on the floor. My opponent seemed not to realize what she had to do and tried to stand up. But unexpectedly for myself I didnt allow her to stand up and grabbed her by neck - I just unconsciously repeated what the boys did in their demonstrations. I put all my weight on her and became on top. While my right arm was choking her, my left hand was pressing her hand against the floor. The trainer stopped the match and surprisingly announced that I had pinned her. I even didnt have a chance to realize that. I got a little excited and proud I managed to defeat a heavier girl in my very first wrestling match. The defeated girl burst into tears and the trainer encouraged her saying: Very soon you will pin other girls too. Then we exchanged by opponents and I wrestled with another girl The trainer ordered us to grab each other by waist and then to try throwing the opponent down. My opponent managed to grab my waist ahead of me, so I had to embrace her above her hand, which was inconvenient. She firmly squeezed me and tried to pick me up (she turned out to be very strong). I instinctively stick my arms between her arms and her body and it helped me to loose the hug. Squeezing her arms, I pounced on her and took her down just to her back. She was so dumbfounded that didnt even resist. I was happy - it was my second pin in row. After the class the trainer came over to me and said that I was going to be a good wrestler. After several days the girls didnt become flustered anymore to act decisively. So, the matches became longer and more persistent Contrary to the trainers anticipation, my first opponent didnt prove to be good in the sport; she got tired of being on the bottom all the time and quit. Another girl also gave up because after every match she found a lot of bruises on her body. After a while I came to like wrestling and I became one of the most skillful wrestlers in our small team where just four girls remained.

A couple of more words about our trainer. We really felt at ease with him. Being never dealt with women in wrestling business, he was very tactful toward us; he really understood our particular issues and concerns. He realized that while for males the readiness for fighting is natural, females should have special training in order to overcome some physical and psychological barriers to get used to fighting. He tried to make a physical contest familiar and acceptable for the girls. And he achieved that.

Training Training After a while none of us was scared of physical contest anymore. Thats what the promoter wanted. The trainer started explaining what our future audience would want and expect from us. He said that although Jack wanted real contests we should also use some hidden tricks in order to make matches more spectacular. First of all, he said we shouldnt wrestle with a great effort getting sweaty like male wrestlers who usually exerted themselves very much. He gave us some other good advice. For instance, if a girl is about being pinned she should demonstrate that she desperately resists but shouldnt spent too much energy. He helped us to prepare some special techniques to amuse the audience... All the same, our matches were supposed to be quite real. Thus we were being prepared to classic wrestling ending by pin. The trainer warned us that some other girls could be invited to the parties to compete with us and to test our strength and skills. In case it would happen he advised to do our best to win. He offered some jerky technique against strangers. For instance, he considered jumpy attack against opponents legs as very effective technique. We worked out very intensively every day and in a few months we already felt ourselves as real athletes. We were busy with training through the winter and early spring. One spring day Jack appeared in the gym and we were asked to demonstrate our wrestling skills. He carefully watched the matches and commented some episodes. After all, he was satisfied.

When real matches were about to start the trainer organized a mini tournament: the girls against pre-teenager boys from his wrestling team. It was very unusual and useful experience for the both parties. As a matter of fact, boys are natural wrestlers; they move much quicker and jerkier than women do. That was their advantage but we had another one the great weight predominance. At the beginning the both sides felt a bit uncomfortable; imagine adult women against kids But when we started we fell for wrestling and cast aside any doubts. The boy I stood against was very successful in attacking my legs the technique our girls didnt really like. He rushed down to my legs and got hold of them, which made me totally helpless. He chopped me off and we moved down. On the ground though it was much harder for him to overpower me. I was on top to the very end but he skillfully resisted and didnt let me pin him. The both learned something I realized my exposure in the standing position against leg attacks and the boy has a reason to learn how to wrestle in parterre against a heavier opponent. The other matches proceeded in different ways. One boy just tripped his opponent up, threw her down on her back and pinned her remaining on foot. Very impressive! The third girl just leaned heavily on her small opponent and pinned him... It was a real fun. The trainer was happy.

Apartment wrestling On the agreed day and time each of the four was picked up and taken to the apartment building just by Central Park. By that moment I even hadnt imagined how a luxurious living quarter looked like. And it looked just magnificent! The penthouse turned out to be very big it occupied the entire top floor of the building and had a nice outdoor garden. Female servants met us and invited us to another room. Then they helped us to put on beautiful evening dresses and good-looking shoes. We were dressed fit to kill After that we moved to a party room. It was a room as big as a concert hall. There was a wide bear fur on the floor. Dressed up ladies and gentlemen surrounded us and began talking. They were very polite and friendly with us and we quickly stopped being confused and embarrassed. We were offered a glass of Champaign, some snack and fruit. People talked to us on an equal footing. Ladies curiously looked at us carefully studying us. Then we were asked to wrestle on the bear fur. It was a little bit strange because in the gym we wore athletic uniforms rather than dresses. We wrestled for a few minutes and by the end of the matches some our clothing was disarranged. But not too much :) Dont think though it was some kind of fake wrestling or catfighting with erotic posing like you can see nowadays in million copies everyplace. Not at all! It was quite real wrestling; we just used some polished moves. Any real wrestler would understand that; it was like a tough sparring: one opponent delivers a move and the other one tries to resist. The guests of the penthouse were impressed and emotionally applauded.

During the hot summer months Jack left the city and took us with his household to his summerhouse in the country. Despite daily training we had good time there. In September we returned to New York and our parties continued.

The host of the parties was very inventive in attempts to diversify our contests and every Sunday we got some surprise. Every time we got uniform completely different from any previous party: color, fashion, type, bare levelWe wore dresses, tights, swimming suites, bikini, pants, etc. We never wrestled topless though. Sometimes the rules and terms of the contests were changed. One day we had to compete just with legs. Another day we had to use one arm and one leg only. There was also belt wrestling (you are only permitted to hold an opponent by her belt); back-to-back struggling; wrestling by only holding hands. The most entertaining was armwrestling and similar exercises where party guests also participated. Male and female volunteers competed with us. It was very excited!

Someone might guess that a poor fellow daughter of immigrants was forced to entertain perversive reach people. Wrong! It was just like a show without any brutality or cruelty. It was totally harmless for the girls. Probably, the show was unusual and unacceptable for some purists but it was very well paid for those times, so all of us were more than happy. Besides we got new friends and connections among people we would never met under different circumstances. It was quite easy work for each of us. I quit the department store where I got probably one percent as little as I got from the matches. We were paid for each match; the winner got 40% more than a loser the promoter wanted to encourage us to compete for real. In addition, some people gave us generous tips and even doubled the amount. Besides we were paid for daily training too. At the beginning we concluded an agreement between us that every girl would contribute her money to the common collection and then split it between the girls regardless of match results. We kept that secret. Since we got our money in any case, we really enjoyed matches and wrestled with enthusiasm, to our hearts content. It was the golden time

apartment wrestlers Once four unknown women showed up with faces covered by black masks and we were asked to measure our strength against them. It was supposed to be a team-wrestling match: four against four. Our girls were dressed in bright orange tights and our masked opponents were covered by black. The strangers looked fit and strong but all of them were overweighed and awkward. But they behaved very conceited and arrogant and made themselves out to be killers. Each team formed a line and rushed toward each other by a gong signal. It was short but very impressive spectacle. The Jacks guests were excitedly rooted for us and noisily egged us on to thrash them. We literally made mincemeat out of them and clipped their wings: four stout ladies had toppled and were helplessly floundering on the carpet. Must see! I managed to pin my opponent surprisingly quickly but I had a feeling like I wrestled against an unskilled man, her body was too solid for a regular woman. I still dont know who those mysterious women were; perhaps, they performed in some kind of strength shows, maybe in the professional wrestling style shows. They seemed to know some acrobatic tricks; they made frightened grimaces but as wrestlers they were good-for-nothing. That party turned out to be our acme, the highest point in our wrestling career

Soon something had come between us; the girl named Alexis expressed disagreement with the principle of the equal distribution and announced that she was going to wrestle for the victory and if she won she would get her all money as a winner. I objected but the other two didnt. Since that time our matches gradually transformed into brawls that actually was appreciated by some people in the audience. But I was sure that out chief didnt like that. All the same, in a short while Jack stopped the spectacles. Thus the Alexis greed killed the good job for four people

Nonetheless, the story had some continuation for me. After our parties had been over a young lady who was among spectators in the Jacks parties invited me. She wanted to have some kind of entertaining private wrestling matches. Then I got a few more such offers but it was very different from the Jacks evenings I really enjoyed the Jacks parties and their friendly atmosphere. Our team was considered as an athletic troupe and everyone respected us. The Jacks friends might make fun of us but we felt that we were considered as professionals. The private wrestling matches were completely different. Women who wanted to wrestle with another woman always had a bit of the Lesbian orientation. Such opponents caressed me, which was unbearable for me. Besides, they paid much less than Jack although still much more than I had had in the department store. After a couple of wrestling sessions with that young lady, when I visited their home again, I unexpectedly met her husband instead of her. He asked me for a wrestling match with him for good money. I foolishly agreed and had a big trouble because he turned out to be a real sadist. The big guy attempted to bind me to the bed by ropes. I tried to fight back and I was very lucky to hit a right target - I kicked him just to the Adams apple. He was turned off for a while and I managed to released and escaped. The other women who called me for private wrestling didnt want to wrestle for real either they wanted something else But I didnt want that. There was an exception though. Once, an athletic woman invited me who seemed to be interested only in real wrestling. She asked me to teach her some wrestling techniques and then we had a lot of fun together. But that good time ended soon after I was asked to be a referee in wrestling this woman and her husband wanted to stand against another couple. First the men wrestled and then their wives came to grips with each other. Unfortunately, something was between the women and the match went to a cruel tussle with nail scratching and hair pulling. I barely pulled them apart. I was very surprised that their husbands didnt even move to stop that It was my last day in the wrestling business. I was disappointed in such work. I wouldnt be able to continue participating in that business anyway because that time I got married and then had children.

Nonetheless, I dont regret that I had such experience, which changed my life. Owing to new friends and connections I got the great husband and the excellent job. I also improved my physical appearance and became more confident, healthy and strong.

Barbara Lipczynska
August 2003

We asked Barabara a couple of questions.

Barbara Barbara, your story is really interesting, thank you very much! What do you think, what was the reason why Jack spent his time and a lot of money for organizing girls' wrestling matches?

You will be surprised but the main reason was to invent something exceptional and distinctive, which would be completely different from anithing conventional. That's how he considered such an actiovity as girls' wrestling: "Women don't wrestle? OK, I can find girls who will wrestle for real". Unlike the most female wrestling promoters he wanted competitive actions but without brutality. He carefully protected us from injuries. The matches were fascinating for the both sides, the girls and the guests. It was really feminine competition, totally different from sweaty and ferocious men's wrestling.

Besides those masked women, did you wrestle with any other people or just between the four? Didnt it bore?

Yes, we wrestled a lot with volunteers but by the rules different from the regular wrestling ones. It was eased wrestling without close body contact just by clutching opponents hands. As I already mentioned, one of such forms was armwrestling.

Were such wrestling private wrestling matches common in 1950s?

Not at all, our parties were just the exeption. I would say it was the unique case because the extraordinary man was the "motor" of the parties. Unlike numerous second-rate shows with fake female fighting, our wrestling matches had a different taste. I think none of pro wrestling or catfighting shows can be even compared to our matches.

Do you think your wrestling parties furthered spreading female wrestling, particularly apartment wrestling?

I don't think so. Women participated in wrestling shows before the Jack's parties and after them but promoters of those shows had completely different reasons and goals. Jack had fine taste and everything he did was of the finest quality while, on my opinion, the most of female wrestling shows are disgusting and lousy. By the way, so-called "apartment wrestling" is nothing but another name for fake shows.

Do you know if Jack held other female wrestling parties? Do you know anything about his further life?

He always changed his enthusiasm from one object to another and as far as I know he didn't hold such parties again. We remained friends and I had some contacts with him after that time. He died about twenty years ago and I wouldn't like to tell any more details about him. He was the man...

What do you think about contemporary female amateur wrestling which is widespread now? For instance, the famous wrestling enthusiast Barbara from New York hosts the special WEB site dedicated to combative women...

I suspect that the most of such "wrestling matches" more pertain to sexuality end erotica. Since sexuality is the important part of our life, such things have rights to exist. But that's not for me... As to Barbara and her WEB sute, I have not been too much interested in wresling since I left that business. Besides, I am not an Internet person - I can't use it without assistance. So, I didn't hear about Barbara's activity before. Thank you for the reference, I just looked at her site. Her enthusiasm impresses me but I still think that the abnormal interest to female wrestling is caused mostly by sexual motivations.

What do you think about women in athletic wrestling, boxing and martial arts? You might know that several female combative sports are included in the Olympics, the most recent - women's wrestling.

Frankly speaking, I don't think wrestling and any other combative sport are right for the most of women but I support any effort of a woman to try herself in a non-traditional activity. I am glad that the Olympics accepted women's wrestling.

I see you are still skeptical about combative sports for women. Why? After all, you were a good wrestler.

I am not skeptical, I just think that any woman who wants to participate in a serious physical activity, especially in a combative sport, should consider her perspective maternity.

You said warm words about your trainer and have quoted his words qualifying wrestling as "art and science". Why did you quit the sport so early?

I fell in love with wrestling but since the Jack's parties were over I didn't see any athletic female wrestling team around. I don't think they even existed that time. As to private wrestling and fake actions, I already said what I thought about them. Besides, since I got married I got many new responsibilities... In any case, it was the lucky part of my life and it remains in my heart. Yet I didn't become a wrestling fan, although I respect real athletic female wrestlers.

Were there any erotic components in your matches?

I can't deny that female wrestling might have an erotic component. So do ballet and any other physical activities where women participate. If youy undress ballerinas, ballet will become much more erotic. So do wrestling. I hope, I express myself clearly.

Yes, everything you have said is absolutely clear. Thank you very much for the story and for the interview! We wish you to be active and healthy for many long years!

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