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The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds, and the Making of an American Legend

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  26 reviews
"The Queen of the Ring" is the story of Mildred Burke, the longest reigning champion of female wrestling. In this in-depth account, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jeff Leen pulls back the curtain on a forgotten era when a petite midwesterner used her beauty and brawn to dominate America's most masculine sport.
At only five feet two, Mildred Burke was an unlikely candidat
ebook, 368 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Grove Press (first published August 5th 2009)
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Blaine DeSantis
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a former wrestling promoter in the 1990's I was super interested in reading this biography about one of the true legends of the industry, Women's World Champion Mildred Burke. I really enjoyed much of this book, but as it went on it appears that Mildred's views were not the same as others. Tyhe research of the book was great, and I love how the author gives a credit to Laura Hildebrand for his writing about a topic that is little known or remembered. The book really promotes the old Kayfabe m ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good review of the early days, the rise, the golden age, and then the tapering off of interest in wrestling as seen through the eye of women's wrestling and the trials and tribulations of Millie Burke and her husband/manager Billy Wolfe. ...more
Tom Breen
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last month, when the WWE announced it was going to name its first-ever women’s battle royal, to be held at this year’s Wrestlemania, after the Fabulous Moolah, the wrestling sector of the Internet collectively threw up. While Vince McMahon’s family empire has tried for years to cast the late Lillian Ellison as a pioneering proto-feminist kicking down doors in the boys’ club of professional wrestling, too many people nowadays know the truth: she was, among other things, a pimp, a bigot, and a non ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well-researched, by an experienced investigative reporter.
Leen skillfully weaves the many strands (interviews, archives gleanings, newspapers, magazines, books) into a coherent, compelling story.
I rank this up there with Capouya's Gorgeous George bio.

My copy (2009, 1st edition, Atlantic Monthly Press) was 356 pages, not 272 pages, as listed on Goodreads.
Lots of Columbus wrestling history.
142...Billy Wolfe's Columbus home and office was the Park Hotel, 465 S. High St, two blocks s
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mildred Burke is my 2nd great aunt. Interesting story about her life and the challenges of being female and exploited in the boxing ring and public life while trying to raise children and make a living.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading “Queen of the Ring” by Jeff Leen, I knew two things about Mildred Burke: 1) She reigned as the women’s world wrestling champion for a very long time (~20 years); and 2) She blazed a trail for today’s women wrestlers to follow. But how and why? I never found those answers from the snippets about Burke that I read online.

Here, at last, is a resource that would shed light on the life of Mildred “Cyclone” Burke as she grappled men and women around the world during wrestling’s Golden A
Brian Manville
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wrestling
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, nee WWF), being the 800 pound gorilla in the professional wrestling business, twists and turns history to suit its needs. This is not unusual as history is usually written by the winners. However, the match between the Bella Twins and Emma/Paige and the ensuing #GiveDivasAChance hashtag of February 2015 was not the beginning of a revolution in women's wrestling. The real revolution in women's wrestling took place some 80 years prior, and that revolution was th ...more
Jim Rugg
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book focuses on both Mildred Burke and Billy Wolfe. Burke was a (the?) women's world champion of professional wrestler in the 30s-50s. Billy Wolfe was her husband and promoter for most of her run. The author is an investigative journalist and that approach adds a lot to this book.

First, Burke and Wolfe are amazing characters for a story. It's great that author Jeff Leen wrote this book because Burke deserves to be recognized. She was a significant figure in wrestling history. Wolfe on the
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the women's wrestling history, but the style of writing didn't captivate me. A lot of time was spent on how Billy Wolfe manipulated and womanized, and I get that without him (and a whole bunch of men to follow, willing to exploit women for their talents while still keeping them beneath), women's wrestling would not exist, but I wish this was more focused on the women and their fight without centering him. I'm so happy with how far we've come though. ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't want to "ding" Mr. Leen's book over at Amazon, but Jesus, really? The man that seemingly prided himself on killing Gary Webb, and his powerful contribution is a tell-all (of sorts) on women's wrestling.

It's always entertaining when pretension and frivolity merge! Please, Jeff, mansplain some more of these _difficulties_ we faced! Clearly, you've got the final word on the subject.
Jude Woodcock
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great book showing the struggle of a woman
I have an image-destroying confession to make: I enjoy watching pro wrestling. Not enough to seek it out while channel-surfing, really, and my TV companions would never let me dwell on it, anyway—but man, is it ever a fascinating, brutal form of theater, telling Homeric and Shakespearean tales of rivalry, revenge, treachery, and heroism! And there is an epic, animal grace to the competition, like a nature documentary where rutting elk lock antlers, bellowing. Also, people get hit with folding ch ...more
D.M. Dutcher
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
It's a history of women's wrestling through the eyes of Mildred Burke, one of it's greatest stars. It's also a very sad saga of a woman who never could seem to find love, and who suffered not only in the ring, but in real life, too.

Mildred Burke had dreams of being cheered on by crowds. But her life was anything but. As a single mother in the thirties, life was grim. She barely squeaked out a living working as a waitress in her mother's restaurant. But one day she met washed up wrestler Billy W
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Jeff Leen does a bang up job of giving us a down and dirty tour of the history of professional women's wrestling through the eyes of its greatest champion, Mildred Burke. I was thrust into a world that I knew little about and felt like Leen did a fine job painting a vivid picture of this world beyond the ring. Leen uses the story of Burke and her insufferable manager/husband Billy Wolfe as a canvas to craft a compelling, and wildly entertaining portrait of professional wrestling during th ...more
Rachel Pickens
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up this book on a whim, as I know almost nothing about wrestling as a whole. Many of my friends seem to have become interested in professional wrestling, and I saw this book about one of the pioneers of female wrestling, Mildred Burke. I am very glad I bought this book: the world of female wrestling in the mid-20th century is fascinating, feeling often part circus, part professional team, and all competition.

I would love to see some of Mildred Burke's life adapted for the big screen: t
This book covers a fascinating topic. I had no idea there were women wrestlers in the 1930s. It's horrifying to read about the womanizing Billy Wolfe, the manager of the team of wrestling women and Mildred's husband. Interesting that even one of the greatest female wrestlers was abused by her husband (also a wrestler). It's really sad that everything fell apart for Mildred in the end. It's funny, I kind of wanted someone to come out of the story as the inspiring hero/heroine, but nobody in the b ...more
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply amazing book. Well worth a read for wrestling fans and those looking at other aspects of women's history. Mildred Burke deserves a lot more attention than she has gotten and this book tells her story very well. Her struggle to overcome a lot of ingrained sexism in wrestling is as relevant today as it was when she started in the 1930's. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to learn about Mildred, the wrestling scene in the 1930's - 1950's, and the history of female professional wrestlin ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the book does place most of its focus on Mildred Burke it also covers the history of Women's wrestling and the impact of Billy Wolfe. Essentially the Vince McMahon of women's wresting up to the 60's Wolfe's impact left an indelible mark on the business of Women's Wrestling.

The history is well researched and presented and the book is entertaining enough to keep the reader interested. A good effort overall.
Daniel DeLappe
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read, but a bit shallow. Then again this may be all one can dig up on a closed society. I agree with sentiment on Moolah. There is some stuff in this book on mixed matches. It amazes me that even today mixed matches are rare. Worth the read for history, but would love some deeper character studies
Lydia A.
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really something!
I fell in love with Millie and learned alot I didn't know before hand.
The author is an excellent writer and tells everything as though he's just right out talking I really like that. The small paragraph in which he mentions Chyna is very heart warming and definatley appreciated by a modern era wrestling fan. Anyone lady should read this book!!
Just didn't keep me reading. The idea is interesting, but there wasn't enough dramatic tension to make me keep turning pages. Despite being nonfiction, I think a more suspenseful approach to the life of this boxer could have made the book more successful. ...more
This was an interesting account. I never knew about women's wrestling.

I felt very sorry for the lead character. She was abused & so taken advantage of.

Wrestling was everything to her. She sacrificed everything to get it. I wonder if it was really worth it to her in the end.
Steve Weinberg
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author explains what about professional
wrestling is phony and what demonstrates true
athleticism. A fascinating biography with lots of
context about wrestling as a mixture of entertainment
and sport.
Sean Flynn
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
A fascinating glimpse at a niche inside a niche form of entertainment.
Mickey Schulz
Feb 27, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A friend picked up a copy of this bio about one of the early female pro-wrestlers.
This is a DNF. Got too tedious to continue by the middle, even though it's a subject I'm very interested in. ...more
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