Banner Days by Penny Banner with Gerry Hostetler

April 4, 2019

Whether you find this book worthwhile depends on your interest in female wrestling history and your attitude to books that maintain kayfabe.

As a historical recollection, it’s got a lot to offer. In terms of first-hand accounts, Banner is arguably the biggest name female of her era who wasn’t  part of the Fabulous Moolah troupe, so makes for an interesting counter perspective

It’s as much a life story as a wrestling book — there’s some fun accounts of Banner’s romantic liasions with Elvis Presley and some understandably less pleasurable accounts of her tumultuous marriage to a man she curiously refers to as Johnny Spade. It’s not clear if this was an attempt to avoid hurt feelings or legal issues, but her husband was in fact the relatively well-known wrestler Johnny Weaver.

The kayfabe element of the book goes beyond the understandable desire of a wrestler of Banner’s era wanting to protect the business. While claiming her bouts were all legitimate, she dismisses modern female grappler as fakers and even suggests she was surprised to recently discover that men had been working finishes during her career. It’s a shame as it’s not only insulting, but also undermines credibility.

The book is well-illustrated, though it’s made harder to read by the use of a sans-serif font throughout. There’s also a few printing and typography errors, including one chapter that’s cut off mid-paragraph.

Given the book’s lack of availability, it’s only really worth tracking down at inflated prices if you have a particular interest in the topic of territorial era female grappling.

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