---American Wrestling Association (AWA) 1960-1965
---National Wrestling Alliance Territories
---First AWA Women's Champion
---Starring in the Documentary Film Lipstick and dynamite
---Author of Banner Days
---former Girlfriend of the King of Rock and roll Elvis Presley
---# 65 in Pro Wrestling Illustrated top 100 Hottest women in wrestling in 2002
---Passed away May 12th, 2008
JM: I first wanted to thank you for taking the time to do an interview with the site to share your experience in your career... You started your wrestling career in 1954, did you ever expected your career to take off the way it did for over 20 years..
PB: Thank you for asking for this interview for my fans. I will try to answer as best I can without giving away too much info that's in already in my BOOK "Bannerdays" at http:\\www.Bannerdays.com. Yes, I began wrestling in '54 without ever seeing or hearing of girl wrestlers.. so, had no desire at all on being a pioneer wrestling icon with a 23 year career span.
JM: You have wrestled Fabulous Moolah a couple of times but never in the WWWF, is that correct? If so, how come?
PB: I wrestled Moolah 8 times after hearing of her in 1964 for the first time (10 yrs after I began).. She and her group were considered outlaws, wrestling only around NC, SC and probably Boston and overseas-- They were not sanctioned by the NWA wrestling alliance ever, and she was calling herself a champion, which the NWA already had the women's champ that defeated Mildred Burke. WWWF, where she was recognized was the beginning of Vince McMahon jr's monopolization of 'entertainment'.. NOT wrestling.
JM: You ended up in the AWA and became the first ever AWA Women's champion winning a battle royal.. Can you explain your thoughts making History?
PB: I am most pleased to be the FIRST sanctioned girl to hold this title.. It came about because the then NWA CHAMP June Byers 'chickened out'. I believe it was because after chasing her title since I began in '54 - and going to a draw with her (first ever to do that also) in Milwaukee, WI in '59.. SHE was a NO SHOW. That is why the title was offered.
JM: You were wrestling in the Memphis area which led you to meet Elvis Presley, because he was a wrestling fan, is that correct?
PB: NO........I was in the Nashville, TN. territory and my book will tell you how I met Elvis in St. Louis, and our dating continued for 3 yrs with 5 dates.
JM: Was it a positive or negative affect on you from your promoters and/or locker room being a top lady wrestler dating the King?
PB: I was so busy. I never told anyone. Just because it made it to the Associated Press, not too many wrestlers or promoters read the paper I guess and didn't even know.. And I never told anyone.. To me, he was just a guy and I was just a girl.
JM: The name Game
Cathy Branch..................FIRST GIRL I WRESTLED PROFESSIONALLY
Lorraine Johnson ........MY LAST TAG TEAM PARTNER
Johnny Weaver ........MY X
Verne Gagne..........WRESTLER FROM MPLS
Nell Stewart.......VERY GOOD..AND GIRL I WON THE TEXAS WOMAN'S TITLE FROM IN '63
Elvis Presley....GREAT KISSER
Fabulous Moolah........VERY LUCKY GAL to be best friends with Vince Jr.s Dad.
Mae Young.........Big Butch
Betty Hawkins......Great gal and I consider her my SISTER
June Byers....GREATEST CHAMPION OF ALL GIRL WRESTLERS
Vivian Vachon.......only wrestled her in her first year. Yes, I beat her
JM: Who would be your toughest opponent you ever faced in your career?
PB: June Byers
JM: You were a tag team wrestler with three different partners towards the end of the 50's such as Lorraine Johnson, Bonnie Watson, & Betty Jo Hawkins, which out of the three you worked better with?
PB: Because of my experience. It was Lorraine Johnson.. But... Hawkins and Watson were very very good, it was me that wasn't experienced during those early years prior to '58
JM: You also wrestled Vivian Vachon, Your thoughts on wrestling her and about her family.
PB: She has a great family and it is such a shame that she passed away early in life along with her only daughter. Very sad
JM: You retired in 1977 because the lack of ladies to wrestle, would you say that was one of the toughest choices you ever made concerning your career?
PB: NOT really....my knees and back were getting so very badly abused, it was a good thing...and then girl wrestling became entertainment because of McMahon, and I had no desire to enter that field. TODAY I could and would tho...Fans seem to like to be FOOLED AND DUPED..geez, I'll never understand that!
JM: You Wrote a Book Banner days that got rave reviews.. Are there talks about a sequel?
PB: nope I only have one life and in Bannerdays, I pretty much told all there is to tell, except that I now am fighting a Cancer battle. There is a "BIO" DVD that has just been released made in 2005...I think fans will like that..It was released in the UK two months ago in August of '06..now in Canada. Hopefully here in the USA soon. I am selling it on my yahoo. bannerdays site tells. Great price breakdown too.
JM: If I am not mistaken there is even talks about a Movie based off your book and Life, any new info on the latest of the project?
PB: yes........there is, and when they find the girl to play me...it will happen
JM: There is a Page on the site in the honor of Christina Applegate and I have to ask that on your site she got the most votes to play you in a movie, wouldn't you agree?
PB: I don't know....I mentioned it to the producer and he nixed her and many others. Latest one they wanted was the girl that won 'dancing with/the stars'.. The one with buggy whip arms and 42" leg length. I do not remember her name. She was more of a valet when she did the McMahon scene. She is wayyyy too booked at this time.. So she is still a possibility..?
JM: Within the last year, you were diagnosed with Cancer, how is that going for you and has it changed your life?
PB: I still swim and compete...and feel fine. Cancer is a huge battle and I can only hope all of the prayers and support I am getting carry me through it successfully. However, I am old enough to know and I believer 'THINGS' are already written in the stars and WHAT WILL BE WILL BE and I accept that.
JM: I read somewhere that leilani Kai won an award from you, is that true? Have you ever faced her in the ring?
PB: IF she did, I'm sorry, I forgot about it. NO, I have never wrestled her.
JM: Since you retired in wrestling, Wrestling started to get real big in the 1980's which led into the sleaze of sex in the biz of the 90's and 2000's, what are your thoughts on wrestling since your time in the biz?
PB: I think I answered this above. It is entertainment and to dupe the fans out of their hard earned money to watch preprogrammed scripted entertainment mis- named as wrestling is a real shame. I never watch because I don't want MR. greedy McMahon to get any ratings to help his deep deep pockets
JM: Was it true that you and Moolah did not get a long at all? If so, you were a part of a very popular documentary of lipsticks and dynamite the first true ladies of wrestling which also features Moolah, how was that experience for you about the movie and to meet up with moolha after all these years?
PB: Moolah is just an old lady to me...I have always smiled at her, and she back at me. The difference is that she HATES me ..I've always been her nemesis. I know this because ALL of her girls have told me so. They also tell of how badly she treated all of them. I could care less about her and her doings
JM: Do You Have any advice for your fans who was to accomplish their dreams and goals?
PB: yes......there is a song by ELO called “Follow your Dreams”. And that is what everyone should do. By following the WWE, they are following someone else's dream of being a trillionaire, and they should STOP and make a LIFE OF THEIR OWN...by Following THEIR dreams.
JM: Closing Thoughts?
PB: If anyone out there does not have my book, they should get it........as it tells the true history of women wrestling from the 30's until mid '70's. IT also tells why women wrestling was NOT programmed with angles as the men's were. And how I believe champions came about. ***My book -- the new BIO DVD... the wrestling DVD, plus photos etc is all listed at the group http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/bannerdays Once again.......thank you and YOU all my fans. I love all of you
Penny Banner 2006
Penny Banner 2006