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Wrestling fan Jeering Jessie McCall

Grunts, roars and the smack of flesh on canvas have, for generations, echoed from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland. Pro wrestling is a gritty world populated by heroic "babyfaces," dastardly "heels," outrageous managers and outraged fans. We tackle some of the most colourful stories and characters to come out of the wrestling scenes from coast to coast.

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She stalks the ring, a knot of pearls at her neck, hurling praise at her heroes and scathing abuse at the heels. "Get out of here ya stinkin' thing, ya stupid bugger," Jessie McCall hollers in a thick Scottish accent. Away from the ring, the grey-haired fan's a smiley lady who's coy about her age, we learn in this CBC Television News report. McCall has been a Vancouver wrestling fixture for 20 years. [
• Jessie McCall, who had a son and daughter, hooted and hollered from her front-row seat well into the 1980s. She passed away on May 4, 1991 in White Rock, B.C.
• Another female fan to gain fame was a London, Ont., woman nicknamed Ma Pickles. She faithfully attended pro wrestling matches from the 1940s until the 1980s. Like McCall, Ma Pickles took delight in cheering on the heroes and scolding the villains.

• McCall was born on Feb. 22, 1915, and grew up in West Hartleypool, England. She moved to Canada in 1959 and saw her first wrestling match a few years later. Although she loved to yell at the referee when a bad guy smuggled a weapon into the ring, she wasn't above evening the score. A 1986 story in Vancouver's The Province describes her offering a ballpoint pen to a hero facing a villain with brass knuckles.

• While happy to sell tickets to older fans like McCall and Ma Pickles, wrestling promoters in the 1980s, led by the World Wrestling Federation, started to target a much younger audience. The WWF was successful in marketing itself to teenaged and even younger fans with hero characters such as Hulk Hogan, who often advised his "little Hulkamaniacs" to eat their vitamins.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Sept. 16, 1983
Guest(s): Gene Kiniski, Jessie McCall
Reporter: Fred Cawsey
Duration: 4:11

Last updated: February 2, 2012

Page consulted on September 26, 2014

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