Mixed Wrestling

Mixed wrestling ( commonly referred to as intergender wrestling) is a wrestling match between a man and a woman. These  are done in a professional style format, but vary in conduct ( could be competitive or fantasy). Mixed wrestling should not be confused with session wrestling. Mixed wrestling does not involve payment, but is sometimes done for fun, entertainment, or competition. This activity can fall into different categories. The more mainstream form is professional wrestling, which allows for men and women to wrestle each other. The second type is fantasy wrestling in which the male opponent will lose on purpose. Another type is   competitive wrestling which involves both men and women wrestling to win. This type of wrestling is not to be confused with the Greco-Roman wrestling practiced at the Olympics. That type of wrestling has men’s and women’s divisions due to performances differences between the sexes. Mixed wrestling is flexible, because the strength of the women is usually greater than their male opponents (fantasy wrestling athleticism is not that relevant, because the outcome is determined). While many find this practice inappropriate, it has a large following.

Since the early days of  professional wrestling it was deemed unnatural for a woman to wrestle a man. That began to change in the 1970s. Mixed matches were occurring, despite condemnation. The reason detractors were against this was because they believed women were too fragile for rough activity. An irrational fear, due to the fact that professional wrestling is staged. Story lines are written and matches are predetermined. While one can still be injured, this can happen in any physical engagement. A harbinger in the mixed wrestling format was Andy Kaufman. He was a well known actor and entertainer appearing in films, including television. He would wrestle women in staged matches calling himself “the intergender champion.” Some appeared to be very realistic, with a touch of his bizarre humor. Many times the women were there to add to comedic effects of the performance.

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It was not until the 1990s did mixed wrestling gain mainstream exposure. Before,  this type of wrestling was regulated to smaller circuits in the United States. The WCW and the WWF ( now the WWE) began to feature women in mixed matches. The ECW also was a wrestling organization that allowed this. Chyna was one of these pioneering women who wrestled men and women. Chyna due to her immense size and strength could perform and make her matches believable. At 5 ’10 and 180 lbs she did inflict considerable pain on opponents. chyna3ac

Generally, muscular and athletic women are not entirely accepted, but in professional wrestling they became as popular as the men. Audiences responded positively to these mixed matches and no longer thought it was strange. Women may not have gotten the same pay, but they did get respect and admiration from colleagues. Chyna set a new paradigm for a much more powerful female wrestler. Anne Marie Cooks for example got her start as a bodybuilder and used the strength she built to go into wrestling.

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This trend continued in the 1990s to 2000s with more female wrestlers taking on male opponents. Beth phoenix  wrestled male opponents in the WWE. She was even called the Chyna of the 2000s. Mixed matches however were being conducted less by the 2010s. The reason was that the WWE wanted to keep the PG tv rating. The claim by some advertisers was that wrestling was getting to violent and thus it was watered down to meet these demands. Advocacy groups made the claim ” it glorifies violence against women.” The claim seems ludicrous, because there are many matches in which women did significant damage to their male opponents. What these concerned parents and feminist groups failed to realize is that professional wrestling is a performance, not reality. While it seemed as if mixed matches were done, tag team formats took there place. The rule is that women wrestle women  with their male counterparts while tapping in or out of the ring. Like all wrestling it staged or adds to the written narrative. While there is the mainstream version of mixed wrestling, there is also a subcultural element.

Fantasy wrestling is subtly erotic in nature and is related to certain fetishes. This type of mixed wrestling is more underground. Some claim this is borderline pornographic, but rarely is sexual activity depicted or done. The sexual element is there. Followers who participate in this have either cratolagnia or sthenolagnia. There are men who are excited by a woman’s muscles and strength. Then participants in fantasy wrestling could also like the idea of femdom. This fantasy puts a woman in a dominant position. The male would take a submissive role. While normally the preferred female wrestler would be a woman of muscular and athletic physique, femdom  supporters like any woman to fill the dominant role. Thin women could participate in this type of wrestling, because the man would not attempt to resist. The fantasy is that women’s strength levels are equal to males and therefore women can compete with men in physical contests. The fantasy goes further for the femdom supporter making it seem as if women are the stronger sex.

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The two thin women would not win a real wrestling match. They simply would not have the strength, but the men want to be dominated. The muscular women would have no trouble wrestling men. 

Even though men are physically stronger, the idea of reversal is amusing to them. Staging this type of wrestling is done for the personal amusement and satisfaction of the individual. Fantasy wrestling is common among session wrestlers. Although session wrestling is associated with female bodybuilders, mixed wrestling is also practiced. There can be semi-competitive matches in mixed wrestling. This is the case in which the fantasy element is still there, but the male attempts to put up some resistance. The goal is not to win, but feel the power of the woman’s body. They do not just want to look at her muscles; they want to see what they are capable of. The explanation for this desire could have a multitude of factors. It could be a representation of men and women’s struggle against one another. There has been a battle of the sexes ever since the rise of civilization. Men had the advantage of physical strength, but women had the advantage of their sexuality. Gender inequality caused contention and was challenged. Women started doing activities that were once exclusively male. Mixed wrestling or any physical activity is a barrier women are breaking. Although women with muscle are not accepted, they continue to develop their physiques. Some feminists argue that women who do mixed wrestling are only serving as sex objects to fetishists. That is not true, because women choose to participate. That is the most empowering; a woman making her own decisions without societal approval. Rarely do observers see that women find this physical contest fun. There is a level exhilaration that women feel when they know they can toss around men like rag dolls. These women told they are the weaker sex destroy that myth by developing a powerful physique and showing their power.

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The rise of the internet brought this underground practice to a wider audience. Before it was regulated to special interest or fetish videos. These could be acquired through mail or video stores. This is why fantasy wrestling was labelled “porn without sex.” Fit and attractive women thrusting their powerfully built bodies  ( and in some cases much thinner women)on much weaker men does appear suggestive. Although this type of mixed wrestling is more visible in the underground, competitive is present.

       Men and women have organized mixed wrestling clubs for enthusiasts. This is not officiated, so technically it would not be considered  a sports league. These mixed wrestling clubs appear mostly in the US and UK. Men and women teach other wrestling moves and have competitive matches. Unlike fantasy wrestling, this is for people who enjoy it for the physical contest and not the erotic nature. This does not mean these facilities do not offer fantasy wrestling. Most matches can either be semi-competitive, competitive, or fantasy. Female participants may have experience in wrestling and other may use their strength to compensate for lack of skill.

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These are women who wrestle at  The Wrestling Factory in the UK. Find out more here: :Wrestling Factory.

Men of various fitness levels come to these clubs. The strongest men would have to either select a fantasy match or semi-competitive, because the women could get hurt. It is rare that the strongest woman could beat the strongest man. For men of average or slightly above average physical fitness levels there are more choices in match selection. They would be weaker in comparison to the much stronger women, so it would not be a problem. These clubs are like any wrestling area with a ring and mats. Normally, matches are presented in a professional wrestling format. There are traditional Greco-Roman matches, but the professional wrestling format seems to be more common. When seeing mixed wrestling from this perspective it is easy to get it confused with session wrestling. Its origins are just ambiguous as well.

      Mixed wrestling could have developed from the works of Irving Klaw. He was a filmmaker and photographer who was involved in fetish photography. During the 1940s to 1960s he had a mail order business that would sell photos of attractive women. His fetish material was mostly women in bondage. These photographs and one reel films were not depicting actual sex, but he found he self being investigated for violation of anti-pornography laws. The United States was a different place at this time and extremely conservative. Irving Klaw’s company began to produce stories of strong women. These written stories had illustrations done by Eric Stanton and Greg Bilbrew. Eric Stanton was a skilled comic book artist and commonly depicted women wrestling or overpowering men physically in his work for Klaw. Bilbrew also did the same collaborating with his two colleagues for decades. These works clearly have influence on mixed wrestling enthusiasts and fans of female strength and muscle.

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These are some examples of Eric Stanton’s works  and the photography of Irving Klaw.

Illustrations and art are common on certain sites that carter to fans of mixed wrestling. The female muscle growth (fmg)  fetish genre has a number of artists who post art around the internet. During Stanton’s era, it was material that was difficult to come by. The sale of these materials had to be done by mail. Now, anyone can make a website and produce their own content.

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This is the work of David C. Matthews. Since the 1990s he has produced female muscle art, which includes mixed wrestling themes. You can see it is Eric Stanton inspired in theme and style. 

There are cases that mixed matches occurred before Klaw’s promotion of it. Mildred Burke a pioneer in women’s wrestling challenged men at carnivals and fairs. She claimed that she wrestled a total of 200 men losing only one time to a challenger. She was very strong, which made it easy for her to subdue challengers. Challengers would make attempts and if they won they would get a cash prize.Professional  strong women would do mixed wrestling, but it was still rare. Mixed wrestling has an eclectic assortment of events that caused its birth. There was one major event that caused it to be more popular among the underground.

      Female bodybuilding has indirectly made mixed wrestling more popular. The sport emerged during the 1970s and with it came fans. Some of these fans loved to engage in mixed wrestling with muscular women. Schmoes as they were later called, were hardcore fans who wanted to engage in physical contest with these athletes. This was mostly to fulfill a fetish or meet their favorite athlete up close. Although mixed wrestling is not always sexual, it is hard to separate that element from it. Session wrestling emerged and the women could charge clients for different wrestling styles. Eric Stanton videos were being produced before female bodybuilding was a sport. His videos had women doing various wrestling moves, just like the mixed wrestling videos of today. However, the new woman of mixed wrestling would go far beyond his wildest dreams. The women is his videos were nowhere near as strong as the women of today. Thin women appearing to beat men twice their size was not very convincing. Yet, it appealed to those who liked fantasy. Female bodybuilders build the strongest physique possible and actually look strong. It was no surprise that in the 1990s and 2000s that female bodybuilders went into professional wrestling. When the internet became more accessible to to the public, it allowed mixed wrestling to get more exposure.

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Now there are multiple websites that carter to mixed wrestling. It does not just feature female bodybuilders, but figure, fitness, physique women. There are women who have a background in wrestling and some women who are not athletes, but a in great shape. Besides that sometimes they feature the fantasy genre with women of slimmer builds, trying to convince the viewer she can win against a stronger man. Mixed wrestling also gave birth to another theme of the mixed fight. Videos that appear break with the standard wrestling format and add choreographed fights. Like a martial arts film, these video sites  make clips of suspended disbelief with men and women going toe to toe with one another.

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This is attempting to show women as dominant and tough. There is obviously an element of femdom in these videos. It would not exactly be sado-masochistic, because inflicting pain or harm is not the goal. For the male participant, there is a desire to see the full extent of the woman’s physical power. The fetishist cares only about an erotic thrill. The mixed wrestling enthusiast is looking for a challenge, but a unique and rare one. It is rare that their is a woman that is so strong she could challenge a man on a physical level. That is what sparks admirable fascination. The producers of these mixed wrestling videos realize this. So they diversify each video to prevent redundancy. Some focus on competitive format, fantasy, or going an entirely different route by being comedic. The women and the men making these videos sometimes take a humorous tone. The women will taunt or make jokes about how easily they are over powering their male opponents.

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Utopia Entertainment Videos takes a comedic angle. One example is a video featuring Colette Nelson using the full force of her brawn against a man. She makes some jokes in the video saying ” am I cutting off circulation to your head?”  as she wraps her legs around the man’s neck. They do not take themselves seriously, which makes them enjoyable to watch. Mixed wrestling of the past did of a comedic aspect to it and in a way it was revived by these websites. The comedic aspect was in the early years of mixed wrestling came from the idea that it was impossible for a woman to beat a man. It was the “you got beaten by a girl ” syndrome. The humiliation was the humor, because a man was defeated by a “weak” woman. These sexist overtones were abandoned, when men realized women did have the skill to wrestle and the strength to do it. Mixed wrestling 34awes

The humor now comes from the fact that some men believe they could easily overpower any woman. These are not just any women; they are immensely stronger. The web is now filled with mixed wrestling sites which include Scissor Vixens, Scissor Foxes, Bill Wick  videos, Awefilms, Anetha 2. net, and many more sites. These websites feature  session wrestlers, but not all of the women are session wrestlers. These sites also have content that is photography related, which the women get paid for. The women involved may be in a wrestling video for non-financial reasons. The idea of making a video production could be thrilling, considering the female athlete would be the star. It’s like being a Hollywood actress, expect for a a female bodybuilder. Naturally, the athlete is competitive and a new form of challenge is something that cannot be resisted. There is a level of excitement that the women get knowing they can subdue full grown men. It becomes fun and frivolous considering most of the time the male is out matched. These mixed matches are not organized by weight class. So, competitive matches end quickly. The semi-competitive ones are more professional wrestling like and last longer.

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This becomes something empowering to some women. All their lives they have been told they were weak and now they show they can be strong. This atmosphere does not condemn their appearance or strength; it embraces it. While many come to these sites to see mixed matches, female versus female matches are held. This adds to the variety, which consumers want to see. These are not completely one sided, having female bodybuilders or wrestlers compete against one another. There are times even in these videos bigger women will wrestle smaller women.

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The term one sided refers to a total mismatch between competitors. A larger opponent will face off against a smaller one winning every time. Most mixed wrestling features a one sided match between men and women. Even a muscular woman would have difficulty beating a man of very high physical fitness level. That is why larger men choose fantasy or semi-competitive wrestling to avoid harming the women they a wrestling . For the average or thin male its the woman’s responsibility to avoid inflicting harm. Although some matches are real, staged ones can  have  the possible risk of injury. Some female bodybuilders are so strong that their body scissor moves could break  a man’s ribs, if done at maximum power. Bill Wick said of his late wife, that she once did this to him by accident. Just doing some play wrestling and an injury occurred. That it why it is pivotal that the man knows when to tap out.

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If it was not for the internet and female bodybuilding, mixed wrestling would still be a small underground affair.  The elements of it do appear in in mainstream entertainment.

         The rise of mixed wrestling produced the concept of mixed fight. Like mixed wrestling it has men and women engaging in physical contests like  martial arts or combat.  This is also related to the fantasy genre portraying all women as physically equal in strength to all men. While an exaggeration, it goes beyond the fetish genre. Mixed fights are common in films and television.  This operates on suspended disbelief, like most entertainment. A woman who is 120 pounds defeating men over 185 seems like a stretch. Similar to the mixed wrestling videos, they make viewers want to believe a small woman can over power the largest man. Films such as the James Bond series and  Marvel’s  Avengers are examples of mixed fights translated to a mainstream audience.

This is from the James Bond film Golden Eye (1995). I think Bond could easily escape from that hold, if he used full physical force.

The hilarious matter about this is that people do not realize the roots of the super strong, but average looking female characters that appear today.  These tropes come from spy related shows and films of the 1960s and 1970s. The rise of the feminist movement did have a cultural impact and influenced entertainment. Female characters went from damsels in distress to fighting heroines. Some were made to be capable adversaries in entertainment. They were not afraid to fight men no matter what their size or strength. The James Bond films and shows like the Avengers lead the way. One character known as Emma Peel was a secret agent who could beat any man. Today seeing mixed fights in film are common, but do not represent reality. Not every woman on the planet can pulverize a man.

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Scarlett Johanson in Marvel’s Avengers playing Black Widow. She probably would not be able to fight like this in real life. 

It is a hidden fetish put there, but audiences do not seem to realize it. The mixed fights shown on screen are a product of mixed wrestling. The idea that all women can have strength greater than men is fantasy, but there are women who exist that are powerful in physique. Besides lifting weights, they want to test their strength against males and are taking mixed wrestling in a different direction.

        There are strong women now organizing mixed wrestling events that are competitive clubs specializing in Olympic style wrestling . These matches are not staged or scripted. It is for the man and woman who desires a vigorous physical challenge. Female bodybuilders are leading this movement, but  other  types athletes  participate such as powerlifters and mixed martial artists. Events are organized and strong women come to wrestle male opponents. Fantasy wrestling is still an option, but competitive and semi-competitive are emphasized more. Michelle Falsetta  organizes wrestling  events. She is also a bodybuilder and wrestler who wanted to share the world of mixed wrestling with hardcore supporters.

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Michelle owns the site mixed wrestling event . Besides film content it organizes meets between wrestlers.    

The  events are monthly and serve refreshments. There are videos that are shown of past matches. Michelle has done session wrestling and mixed wrestling since 1998, so she has a good amount of experience. The motivations for the women vary extensively in regards to participation. Michelle herself stated  “It was extremely empowering to know that little old me wrestled this guy.” She was jubilant that she made a man tap out. The confidence women gain from strength changes them psychologically. They feel they can do anything if they try hard enough. It deprograms from ideas given to them  as young women that they are of less value. Women are proud to show their power and not ashamed and men come to respect it. Some men come to these events believing they can win against any woman, but find the situation reversed. Teresa L’Heureux  a bodybuilder who participates in Mixed Wrestling Event commonly faces men who think they could win easy. As she says ” I make quick work of them.”

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Teresa could beat many men.

Men try to win in competitive matches, but this take much effort. Michelle even admits there are times when the women even beat men much larger than they are. These were not fantasy matches, which is quite impressive. Michelle Falsetta hopes that she can make mixed wrestling mainstream. While it seems like a unique business adventure, at its core it is underground and subcultural. This dream may seem far off, but Michelle is joyful to see one thing. She explains “I get really excited when these women do great against the guys.” She is even more pleased knowing some can defeat bigger men. Often many people claim that mixed wrestling is all fake and that women do not have the physical strength to do this. A type of mixed wrestling is fake, which is fantasy wrestling. This can feature a woman ranging from a slim to muscular body type beating men who obviously would be stronger.

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This is classified as fantasy. This man would have no trouble winning the match if he tried. 

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This is competitive. I doubt this man has the strength to overpower the woman on top of him. 

The ones that are real feature women who are much bigger and stronger. Just being strong does not make you a great wrestler. Without skill one could still lose a match. When Bill Wick first started making mixed wrestling videos, he realized most women had to be taught the correct wrestling moves. The athletes did have backgrounds in other sports, but at the time few women participated in that sport. That is why he gave them instruction for the videos he filmed. It is dubious that mixed wrestling can be made mainstream. Mixed competition is not favored between men and women in physical contests or sports. The main reason has to do with physiological differences in speed and strength. The other reason is cultural. It has been viewed as inappropriate because it violates traditional gender mores. A dated belief that holds women should not compete with men in anything, especially in something physical. Even if the woman is strong and capable she should not display such talents. Thankfully, these ideas are being discarded. Another problem is people still view mixed wrestling purely as some sexual fetish. It is some what related, but that is a separate classification known as muscle worship. That is a type of fetish activity that may or may not involve wrestling. Mixed wrestling will probably remain underground due to these factors.

            The most simple definition of mixed wrestling is men and women doing grappling in mixed competition. This is not an official sport, but is an athletic or physical activity. Session wrestling is related but not the same. Sessions involve an athlete who meets a client for a one on one match for a fee. Although wrestling  is a major part of it, it can be more of a meeting between fan and athlete. The only appearance of mixed wrestling occurred in professional wrestling venues. Considering the nature of it, with men and women making body contact ( observers state this has sexual overtones) it will remain in the realm of subculture. This may not be a negative development, because when certain activities are mainstreamed they are watered down. It would lose a part of its uniqueness. Where ever this goes it is a fascinating microcosm  to study.

References

Morales, Mark. “Chiseled Female Boydbuilder Launches Monthly Wrestling Matches between Men and Women.” Daily News. N.p., 12 July 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/chiseled-female-boydbuilder-launches-monthly-wrestling-matches-men-women-article-1.161367&gt;.

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Mixed Wrestling

3 thoughts on “Mixed Wrestling

  1. turner says:

    I am interested to know because of what reasons Greco-Roman wrestling is not presented by women at The Olympic Games.As far as it can be guessed, the Greco-Roman wrestling is thought to be dengerous for women’s health becuuse this style of wrestling involves the chest squeezing holds hurting breasts.However,women can compete in boxing,which is hardly less dengerous.Is there a proper explanation?Thank you.

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    1. Well, wrestling was thought to be the most manliest sport. It was something of strength and skill. Women who wanted to do this were thought of as masculine. This sexist attitude and tradition continues in the Olympics. The breast issue has been used as an excuse to exclude women. Just like the myth that menstrual cycle makes women too weak for sports, this is another part of the eugenic idea of female physical inferiority. The hilarious thing is most wrestling moves would not involve the squeezing of the chest. There is one called the chest to chest pinning technique. That’s the only one, but there is also head arm pin, cradle, leg ride, and granby roll.

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