Ida Mae Martinez
G.L.O.R.Y. Legend Of The Ring
|One of the most recognized (and beautiful!) wrestling stars of the 1950s, Ida Mae Martinez traveled all over North America taking on the toughest opponents and thrilling wrestling fans wherever she appeared. Introduced to the world of wrestling in 1950 by legendary promoter Billy Wolfe, Ida spent the next ten years grunting and groaning between the ropes in arenas from coast to coast. In 1952, Ida was recognized as the Mexican Women's Champion. After hanging-up her boots in 1960, Ms. Martinez went on to become a published writer for her work in helping early AIDS patients and their families, an accomplished nursing professional, and a star in the field of western yodeling (where she's known as "The Yodeling Lady"). Today, Ida Mae Martinez is recognized by numerous organizations for her many contributions to the advancement of women in the sport of pro wrestling.|| ||
Ida Mae Martinez's Profile...
- Height: 5' 2"
- Weight: 125
- Hair: Black
- Eyes: Hazel
- Hometown: Norwich, Connecticut (USA)
- Currently Residing: Baltimore, Maryland (USA)
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- Career In Ring: 1951-1960 (8 Years)
- How It Started: I had gotten married at 17 in Connecticut, and we decided to head to Houston, Texas at the suggestion of a friend of my ex-husband since we needed jobs. We went to the 5 & 10 store and bought a 26" suitcase for $4.99, then bought one-way bus tickets to Houston. We both got jobs at the Lone Star Comforter Manufacturing Co. I didn't like it, so I got a job at a small cafe in the Alameda area of Houston. I was a hard worker and moved fast. A wrestler, his wife and little girl came in for lunch and dinner occasionally. His name was Larry King...kind of a local guy. One day when they came in, he said to me "Would you like to wrestle?" I said yes...and I don't know why. I didn't realize it, but I had always been wrestling with life, the guys at school or anybody who wanted to fight. He told me to meet him at the Auditorium in downtown Houston at 7:30pm. I watched the matches and I liked the rough and tumble I saw. There were two gals wrestling that night: Johnny Mae Young and Gloria Barattini. I just knew then that I had to be part of it. I met Billy Wolfe in his hotel and the room was filled with lots of "hopefuls"....I guess that is what you would call them. He had hired Ruth Boatcallie and then he looked at me and said "What can you do?" I was a skinny sort of kid, but I was athletic and an acrobat. I put on a suit and did a couple of hand springs--backwards and forwards--and then I laid on my back and kipped to my feet in a standing position. That seemed to impress Billy and I was hired instantly. Billy told Ruth and I to exchange phone numbers and come to Columbus together. I didn't have enough money to go to Columbus and even sold my Gibson Guitar (gosh...I want it back now!). It certainly was a stepping stone. I called Ruth in two weeks and told her I couldn't go because I was short $10. She didn't even know me, but she lent me the $10. That was a big turning point in my life. I was on my way. I forgot to tell you that I was sitting in a booth across from my then husband one night when we were discussing all of this. We had done nothing but fight since we were married. He said "I want to know one thing: do you want me or not?" I immediately without hesitation said "No, I don't". He walked away from the booth and I never, ever saw him again. I heard that he died from alcoholism at the age of 45. I am writing about all of this in my book...especially the rocky marriage we had.
- Wrestling Style: My wrestling style was one of mostly fast moves and some scientific wrestling, with lots of holds and aerial maneuvers...specifically, high flying, powerful drop kicks. I tried to play by the rules, but some rules were broken. Basically, I was a clean wrestler. Even growing up I wrestled a lot of the guys and gals and was never dirty. Not one of the guys or gals could beat me one on one,so they would gang up on me! I guess you could say I'm a little of all the styles.
- Gear/Outfit/Costume: I wore full bathing suits with reinforced rubber around the neck and around the thighs. I had one robe made Spanish style with purple and white ruffles on the sleeves, and purple and white ruffles (bell-shaped) from the knees. The body of the robe was white. One was royal-blue satin and short to the thighs, long sleeves with white fringe across the top and 3-4 rows of white fringe at the bottom. It was beautiful. My wrestling boots were red, white and blue with my name on the outside: IDA. These boots are now in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Schenectady, NY, along with a plaque I received in Buffalo, NY in 1997 honoring me as a wrestling legend.
- Titles Held: Champion of Mexico, 1952-53.
- Worst Loss: I had a Texas title match with Nell Stewart where she threw me over the top rope and the referee claimed he didn't see it. He said I went through the top and middle rope. The crowd agreed with me...and in Texas, tossing someone over the top rope was an automatic disqualification. But he refused to give me the match. I raised a ruckus, but you know politics. I was ticked!
- Favorite Type of Match: I really enjoyed Battle Royals, but they were always very risky with so many people in the ring. My favorites were one hour time-limit, no holds barred matches.
- Favorite Moves/Holds: My favorite move was the dropkick. I always like when my opponent got me in a headscissor. When they least expected it, I would be able to twist a certain way and kip out of the head scissor very fast...landing on my feet from a lying position. Billy Wolfe was always amazed at that one.
- Finisher: My best finisher was a more powerful dropkick and a quick pin. Cora Combs said she had never been kicked in the chest so hard.
- Biggest Allies: My best friend was Nell Stewart...and she was also my biggest adversary. We argued and fought all the time in and out of the ring. It was a strange friendship. One night in Wichita Falls, TX she knocked my tooth out and said "Oh, I didn't mean to do it". We looked for the tooth during intermission and everyone in the audience was looking. To this day I still don't believe it was an accident! She also gave me a black eye once...somewhere around Springfield, IL.
- Toughest Opponents: My toughest opponents were Mary Jane Mull, Ella Waldek, Mildred Burke and Nell Stewart. They were the best of the best and the toughest of the tough.
- Career Highlight: Receiving an award from LIWA which was given to me in Las Vegas in 1989 for my personal and professional accomplishments. Being declared the Mexican Championship in 1952. Another highlight was when I was presented an award by the Cauliflower Alley Club for my accomplishments and support to the Ring of Friendship in 1991. In 1997, I was a recipient of the Pioneer Award from the Gulf Coast Wrestling Reunion for "paving the way". I also received a Hall Of Fame Award in Seattle, WA in 1999. I was acknowledged as a Wrestling Legend in 1997 and 1998. And in 1999 in Buffalo, NY, a tribute was made by Jim Kelly (Quarterback from Buffalo Bills football team) and Carmen Basilio (ex-Welterweight Boxing Champ) during the "Ilio DePaolo Remembered" show at the Midland Marine Arena honoring Lou Thesz, former World's Champion, and other wrestling stars. It was for the benefit of the Children's Hospital.
- Favorite Wrestlers: My favorite pro wrestlers were Buddy Rogers and Billy Darnell. Joe Scarpello was great and later, Danny Hodge. They were both Olympic Champions.
- What I Liked Most: I loved the challenges and I loved to travel. I liked the bright lights and roar of the crowd. I travelled approximately 100,000 miles a year. Quite a bit of it I travelled alone. I loved meeting some wonderful people along the way.
- What I Liked Least: The wrestling business itself was great. But I didn't appreciate the false gossip from some of the male wrestlers. Some were real gentlemen though. The betrayal of so-called "friends" and being used by some of the gals you thought might be your friend after wrestling was despicable. The injuries were tolerable. I had fractured ribs, sprained wrists, ankles and fingers, and dislocations. The physical bruises disappear. It was the emotional/mental abuse which remains. I may sound angry, but I'm not really. In spite of it all, it was a growing, learning experience.
Ida Mae Martinez's Personal Notes...
I was always very critical about myself (and still am) and never completely satisfied with my physical condition. I always wanted to get better and better. I worked out 2-3 hours a day when possible in a gymnasium.....In every city where I wrestled--Canada, Mexico and the U.S.--fans demanded another appearance. So I ended up on many radio and TV shows all over the country.....I was active in wrestling until the late fifties when I met a Baltimore businessman, and I got married in 1960.....I had two beautiful daughters, born in 1961 and 1962. Presently, both are married and are leaders in their own careers. My oldest, I. Ryan, is a Professional Nurse Executive and mother. My younger girl, Traci, is a Telecommunications Senior Systems Analyst Consultant (whew...a long title!) and also a mother. I stayed at home with my daughters, assisting them with good values and giving them lots of love. When they were a little older, I sent them to Sunday School and they were both Bat Mitzvah in January of 1975.....As my girls grew up, I began to concentrate on my education (which I was unable to do in my early life). I had a lot of determination and a desire to fulfill some of my own individual dreams. In 1971, I received my Maryland GED (High School Diploma). In 1975, I received my AA in Nursing from Catonsville Community College. I even made the Dean's List once! I was fortunate to have received scholarships and grants to assist me through school. I continued on and earned my Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing in 1980. After passing the State Boards, I became an RN and worked in the old Lutheran Hospital in West Baltimore with experience in Medical/Surgical Nursing as a Team Leader and Charge Nurse. My other experience included ICU, Step Down Unit and Psychiatric Nursing. After graduation, I accepted a position as a Public Health Nurse for the Visiting Nurse Association of Baltimore. I enrolled in the Graduate Program and earned a Masters Degree in Community Health Nursing at the University of Maryland. I graduated with honors in 1990, and was inducted into the International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma Theta Tau).....I provided nursing care to one of the first AID'S patients from John's Hopkins Hospital in 1981. I wrote and published a paper in the International Journal of AIDS Patient Care in 1990 (Coping Behaviors of AIDS Patients, Families and Communities).....I discovered the Cauliflower Alley Club in 1985 and went to Studio City, Hollywood, CA for the event. I saw wrestlers I had not seen in 25-30 years. I loved it and have not missed a meeting since then!.....As my life simmered down, I was able to pursue my first love: music, yodeling and performing. I resumed my singing/yodeling career in 1996-97. I have done many benefit shows and was on the Rosie O'Donnell Show in April of 1999. Since then, I have been on many local TV shows, as well as the Artscape Arts and Culture Festival.....I was videotaped by Fox 45-TV when I wrote the winning Baltimore Ravens song. And then WQSR DJ Steve Rouse interviewed me and I sang it on the radio.....I have yodeled across the country and I'm a member of the Western Music Association. I attend the Music Festival annually.....Wow! I'm sorry for going on for so long. See what happens when you live a long time!
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"The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old." -- William James