Name: Ida Mae Martinez

Senator Hugh Farley Award, 2006

Ida Mae Martinez

The PWHF Senator Hugh Farley Award makes its debut this Induction Weekend. The honor is given to an individual who has distinguished himself or herself both inside and outside of the wrestling ring. Contributions to society, as well as wrestling prominence, are the criteria that the Farley Selection Committee uses to determine the suitable candidate for this unique recognition. The award is named after New York State Senator Hugh T. Farley who has been instrumental in the development of the PWHF.

One would have trouble finding a more worthy individual than our 2006 inaugural Farley Award winner Ida May Martinez Selenkow. The adversities, and adversaries, that she has faced in her life have been extremely challenging. After being abandoned by her mother, she ran away from abusive guardians at the age of fifteen. While most people with this background might have expressed their bitterness in antisocial ways, Ida May overcame these obstacles and has spent decades helping less fortunate people through a career in nursing.

Her change from high school dropout to well-educated professional is a journey worth reviewing. In 1971, Ida May received her High School Diploma by way of a GED certificate and continued to pursue her education and earned an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 1975. She remarkably persisted in her education and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 1980! As a Registered Nurse, she became both a Team Leader and Charge Nurse. Even more amazingly, Ida May continued on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Nursing with Honors in 1990 and was inducted into the International Honor Society of Nursing. Her work involving home treatment of AIDS patients through John’s Hopkins Hospital inspired her to write a paper, Coping Behaviors of AIDS Patients, Families and Communities, which became part of the medical literature.

Ida began her decade-long wrestling career in 1950 under the tutelage of women’s wrestling promoter Billy Wolfe of Columbus, Ohio. In 1952, she was crowned Champion of Mexico. Nell Stewart and Mildred Burke were amongst her toughest matches. After her retirement from the wrestling business in 1960, she continued to be remembered and even appeared on the cover of a 1967 issue of RING WRESTLING magazine.

Ida May has also appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell Show as a yodeler, a musical specialty in which she has gained worldwide acclaim. Her performance at the 2003 PWHF Fundraiser in New Rochelle, N.Y. impressed the sell out crowd. Her appearance in the documentary movie “Lipstick and Dynamite” demonstrated to the viewers how popular women’s wrestling was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It also showed the difficulties encountered by the lady grapplers of that era.

Although she was born in Connecticut, Ida May now resides in Maryland. She continues to perform nursing activities in various settings – including a prison! She participates in animal rights causes and she pursues her musical avocation. The PWHF congratulates this fine lady for her inspirational life.


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