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"Legends & Pioneers of Women's Wrestling"

    By Bette Clarke
    Special Events Connection #4, Fall/Winter 1993. BETTE'S CORNER

      Let's take a look at two more great ladies of yesteryear....

      Donna Christanello

        The state of Pennsylvania, where many of the top male wrestlers have come from, has produced some of the nation's greatest female mat girls as well, and one of the very best is dark eyed, black haired Donna Christanello, a full-blooded, fiery Italian, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh.

        The peppery Miss Christanello stood toe-to-toe with any girl in the sport of wrestling. She matched her five foot, eight inch height, and her 135 pounds against any foe a promoter paired her with, and she usually emerged the winner of the bout.

        It wasn't always that way for Donna. Many years ago, she was content with simply living at home and doing her 40 hours a week in a Pittsburgh restaurant where she was employed. But then she had an epiphany. "I don't know what came over me, but one time I saw two girl wrestlers on television," says Donna, "and I remarked to a friend that I would like to see if I could learn the sport."

        Donna contacted a Pittsburgh promoter, telling him of her desire to become a girl wrestler. The promoter immediately saw the markings of a natural-born athlete and wrestler in the beautiful dark eyed Italian girl.

        It wasn't easy, but Donna stuck to it, nursing her share of bumps, bruises, cuts, and other hazards of the profession. After many months, she was ready to go out on her own.

        During the months she was in training, the sport grew on her, and when she was booked for her first match, spending her life working in a restaurant was forgotten, as a new star in the mat world was shining!


        To say that Barbie Dahl was an instant hit with the fans isn't an exaggeration. How could she miss with measurement of 40-24-36 and 120 perfectly placed pounds on a five foot, two inch figure?

        Miss Dahl was not only well known by fans through throughout the United States, but she was also well liked by all of promoters she came in contact with. Barbie's personality is A-Plus, and she was a thorough professional in all of her mat dealings. Even some of her opponents couldn't stay mad at her for too long once the match was over. "Wrestling is a sport but it is also a business," the brunette once remarked back during her heyday. "I don't hold a grudge very long against anyone, but I don't like these gals who want to wrestle dirty all the time. I can be as mean as anyone else, but I prefer the scientific style of wrestling. Anyway, I don't think there is anybody around who can beat me, and I'm willing to prove it anytime, anywhere."

        Barbie Dahl is one woman who enchantingly mixes beauty and brains. She was always in the Top 5 rankings of women wrestlers, and at the Golden State Retirement Hotel in Los Angeles, which Barbie manages today, she is Number 1 with her tenants! Having spent her life doing those things which she enjoys most, she says that she loves this job just as much as she did her old job, wrestling.

        I hope you enjoy reading these features on some of my wrestling colleagues...keep looking for future articles from Special Events!

        Yours in wrestling, Bette Clarke.

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