Sue Brittain

Since the end of World War 2 there have been six women who have had a profound and lasting effect on the position of women in the professional wrestling business. In the USA one must rate Mildred Burke, June Byers and Fabulous Moolah as these women. In Europe the torch was carried by Mme Sylvie Morreli and in Great Britain, Mitzi Muller and Sue Britain are the giants. These six women between them have served for a total period of 150 years in the ring. It is their long and outstanding careers that have done more for the position of women in the sport than any other single factor.

Miss Brittain had her first contact with the sport of pro-wrestling through the journalistic efforts of her husband. Through him she met such greats of the 196Os independent world of wrestling as Hurricane Smith and the great veteran wrestler and promoter, Cyril Knowles. At that time women's wrestling was at best look upon as freakish and more often as a near perversion. There were about 10 or 11 active girls throughout Great Britain and these ladies had a very limited choice of venue due to the many byelaws of most towns and cities which banned women from the ring. There were approx five girls active in the Lancashire area, three in the Lincolnshire/Norfolk areas working out of Leicester and two or three active in West Yorks. Within three years of Miss Brittain's entry into pro-wrestling there was only to be one of those originals still active - Miss Mitzi Muller who also had a long and very honourable career in the ring.

After a period of training by her very learned mentors Miss Brittain saw her first action in Tynemouth in Northumberland against arch-villainess, Maria Rivoldi. It was not to be an happy or memorable night for Miss Brittain as she ended the night K.O.d and badly hurt.

After this inauspicious beginning Miss Brittain continued around the independent circuits winning and losing but mostly on the losing end going on to further K.Os against such as Mitzi Muller and Miss Rivoidi etc. Then she decided that though her training had been of the highest standard it was not her nor her style and so began the real career of Sue Brittain. Soon Miss Rivoldi, Mitzi Muller, Mandy Davies and the others were finding out what it was to loose to Miss Brittain. Later towards the end of 1970 several new proprietors met up and decided to get together and bring an element of reform into the business by having delineated areas etc but most or all by bringing in nationally recognised Championships so that instead of being Champion for one's own promoter but just "Joe Bloggs" when working for anyone else one could hold a Title that was recognised by the entire group. Hence was born the British Wrestling Alliance.

Soon after a series of eliminators Miss Brittain became the first and only nationally recognised Champion.

She then began a series of contests with local councils around the North of England to be allowed to appear in the Town Halls and early Leisure Centres as a woman wrestler in her own right. With very very few exceptions she was allowed, thus opening the halls and earning power for future girl-wrestlers. The next effect she had was to bring up to date the rules governing ladies bouts. These were exactly the same as the rules for men but as Miss Brittain claimed there were real differences in the psychology of a fighting man and a fighting woman and these had to be recognised by an easing of the rules in many respects. In dress too she led the way by going for the swimsuit and refusing to wear tights. This was previously not known and the leotard was de rigour.

Soon her efforts were heard of in America and she received many offers of work there but due to family reasons had to refuse all offers outside of Great Britain. She was however recognised there as a great and was soon rated between number 6 and number 10 of the top 20 women by the prestigious Ring Wrestling magazine, a honour no other non-American has ever received. She soon too crashed the TV barrier, though not allowed on TV as part of the sports programming. Yorkshire TV made a documentary showing her in action and at home and she appeared on other Northern programmes from Yorkshire TV and BBC North.

A big point came in 1977 when she took on what she considered to be a normal Title defence against Miss Akala Jan of India at Bradford, West Yorks. With all her usual confidence she considered it to be just a normal nights outing with the usual ending however that night saw the end of her tenure of the Title when Miss India took her by 2 falls to one using her newly developed choke/stretch to take the Title. A dazed and bewildered ex-champion demanded an immediate rematch and the confident Miss Jan willingly agreed. Ten days later Sue was the Champion once again and never lost the Title again.

She later went on to take the London Council (GLC as was) to Court and won that battle thus becoming one of the first ladies to wrestle in the capita] since 1939 when she fought the historic bout with Jane St John.

In 1981 Miss Brittain was stricken by tragedy at home and though making every effort to hold on to her career had to retire, the undefeated Official B.W.A. Ladies Champion of Great Brittain. A series of eliminators saw Lady Dawn of Dundee ascend to the Title.

In the years as Champion Miss Brittain also held the BWA Mixed Tag Team Championship with her partner, Mike Demain and several times with different partners held the BWA Ladies Tag Team Championship though this Title she lost several times due to disqualifications.

Sue Brittain died aged 76 years on 28 April, 2013. Her funeral was held at a Roman Catholic church in Pudsey, Leeds. There is an obituary from the BBC here.