Name: Penny Banner
Year Inducted: 2005
Induction Category: Lady Wrestler

Penny Banner

Penny's autobiography book," Bannerdays" tells all. From childhood to her incredible teen age life, dates with Elvis, wrestling days, and Sr. Olympic competition up to now as her illustrious career unwinds. It can be purchased on line at www.bannerdays.com. She will bring a few with her to the Ceremony.

Penny was born and raised in south St. Louis, Mo, and became a wrestler even though she was not a fan and had never seen or heard of women wrestling. Her career began in 1954 at the age of 19, when the then president of the NWA, Mr. Sam Muchnick recruited her as his progege, as he did the late great Lou Thesz. He sent her off to the famed womens School of Wrestling in Columbus, Ohio which was run by none other than Billy Wolfe, who also trained and booked the champion Mildred Burke. Burke was defeated that same year in Atlanta, Ga. by a Texas girl named June Byers. Penny hails Byers as being the greatest of all girls she ever wrestled in her 23 year career and, gives credit (through hard fought matches), to the Champ for the skills and lessons learned ( the hard way)!

In her career, she has held the Canadian Womans Tag Belt with three partners from 1955 til 1960. First with Bonnie Watson, then with Betty Jo Hawkins and lastly with Lorraine Johnson. She also held the World and USA Tag Titles with the same girls. In 1963 she won the Texas Womans Title from the late, infamous and great Nell Stewart..She says that in August of 1961, winning the First womans AWA world championship was her crown and glory and thanks to promoter James Barnett for the title's existance. After a 1959 marriage, and baby Wendi born in 1960, Penny returned all titles undefeated in 1964.

She is a pioneer for being the first girl to wrestle tag matches in three cites: St. Louis, Minneapolis and Chicago. The first girl ever to wrestle in Indianapolis and Milwaukee, and the first girl to wrestle a black girl in Texas. Penny, at the age of 42, retired after a 23 year (last 20 undefeated) career in 1977, because of the lack of girls to wrestle. She went on to become a physical-ed instructor to the boys at her daughters grade school, a youth 4-H Horse council instructor, and County leader. She began rodeoing and training horses, then when she turned 55, she entered and competes in the Local, State and National Sr. Olympic Games doing and winning in the Discus, Shot Put and Swim events.

She is on the Board of Directors for the CAC and in charge of finding women honorees to honor each year. She says finding women with their fictional names, then their married names is a full time job and welcomes all help she can get.

She is looking forward to receiving the honor bestowed upon her by the Hall of Fame committee, saying "this sorta makes all the aches and pains hurt a bit less".

- Penny Banner



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