Beginning in the 1950s, Ethel Johnson and her two athletic sisters helped expand the demographics of the ring.
Ethel Johnson, was one of the stars of a professional wrestling circuit that, beginning in the early 1950s, put black women in the ring, capitalizing on the success of white female wrestlers like Mildred Burke. Johnson was born Ethel Blanche Wingo on May 14, 1935, in Decatur, Ga., to Gladys Chase and Clifford Wingo. She was one of three wrestling sisters. Johnson says she was about 12 when she first began going to the gym where her older sister, Betty (ring name: Babs Wingo), had begun wrestling. When Ethel turned pro in about 1950, she took the stage name Ethel Johnson to distinguish herself from her sister, who turned pro about the same time; they would often wrestle each other, though many in the crowd were unaware of their connection. Their younger sister, Marva (ring name: Marva Scott), soon got into the business as well.
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Images: Jet Magazine August 25, 1955