As we await an update on the CAC's planned Sept. reunion, our 55th, a reunion that will see WWE Hall of Famer and lifetime CAC member Madusa honored at the Gold Coast podium as the club's second ever female "Iron Mike" award winner let's take a look back at the announcement of our first female "Iron Mike" award trailblazer, Trish Stratus.
The following article, penned by Post Media journalist Jan Murphy was, originally, published in the Toronto Sun newspaper on Sept. 8, 2016.
TRISH STRATUS ABOUT TO RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS "IRON" MIKE MAZURKI AWARD
She’s arguably the most popular women’s wrestler in the history of professional wrestling, but there is no arguing that Toronto’s Trish Stratus is the most decorated woman in the sport’s storied history.
Stratus, born in Toronto in 1975, is the only wrestler to become World Wrestling Entertainment women’s champion seven times, she is the youngest to be inducted into the WWE’s hall of fame and this weekend in Las Vegas, she will be the first woman to receive the Cauliflower Alley Club’s prestigious “Iron” Mike Mazurki Award.
Stratus, who retired from active wrestling a decade ago and has gone on to build an entrepreneurial empire in her home town, will receive the honour from her longtime friend and trainer, Toronto’s Ron Hutchison.
“I’m still waiting for someone to be ribbing me,” Stratus quipped during a telephone interview when asked about the honour. “It’s crazy. When Ron Hutchison gave me the news, I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’ I don’t even know what to say. I’m completely humbled by it. I think it’s very forward thinking of them to do this,” she said of the CAC, which has handed out the honour for more than 50 years.
And being inducted by Hutchison, who trained her at Toronto’s famed Sully’s Gym, makes the honour even more special, Stratus said.
“He’s my wrestling papa,” she said of Hutchison. “He definitely gave me an opportunity and he was someone I could always come back to and talk to about the business and he would always give it to me straight.”
(Hutchison) allowed me hit the ground running once I entered WWE, and, he also let me hit the ground — literally, for the first time,” Stratus said. “He welcomed me into the gym as the only female and I had to show him that I wasn’t just in it for the glam of it.”
Hutchison, who is on the board of directors of the Cauliflower Alley Club, praised his former student and the club.
“To see Trish Stratus honoured as the Cauliflower Alley Club’s very first woman recipient of the prestigious Iron Mike award is something that I can say makes me extremely proud,” Hutchison said. I’m happy for not only for Trish, who is, without question, very deserving, but extremely proud of the club itself.”
Hutchison called Stratus a trailblazer.
“Trish Stratus has always been and will continue to be a trailblazer. It will be my absolute pleasure to present Trish with her historical Iron Mike Mazurki award and I am so honoured that she has asked me to.”
From a very early age, being a woman was never something Stratus saw as being a disadvantage.
“In a weird way, I loved not being viewed as a woman,” she said with a laugh. “Sounds strange to say, as a quote that might read strange, but ... it goes back to me being an athlete growing up and playing competitive rep soccer till 21 and varsity field hockey. We weren’t just girls. We were athletes. We wanted to be known as athletes, we wanted our game to be just as important as the guys’ game. To me, to have the separation, it just felt unwarranted at times.”
That was Stratus’ mantra during her illustrious career in WWE, during which she was named the diva of the decade and was an integral part of the rise to prominence of women’s wrestling for the first time in WWE history.
Stratus admits that while she is aware of her legacy and how she’s revered by fans all over the world, because she’s been removed from wrestling for a decade, she at times forgets about that admiration.
“You forget this crazy, whirlwind that you created and the impact that it left because you do remove yourself a little bit from it,” she said. “I still watch Raw, I tune into Total Divas once in a while so I’m connected to it, but I’m out of it (at the same time).”
Reminders of that legacy now come in the form of fan mail and being recognized in her everyday life.
“I still get fan mail and I still get letters,” she said. “You forget the worldwide reach of WWE.”
And 10 years after walking away from the WWE at the height of her popularity and success, Stratus has no regrets.
“It think takes a certain braveness or courage to step away when you’re on top and just confidently walk away knowing that ‘I’m satisfied with what I did’ and I’m ready to start the next chapter,” Stratus admitted. “And I haven’t looked back.”
For now, she looks forward. Specifically to this weekend, when she adds yet another chapter to her legacy as one of the most influential and trailblazing women in history.
“It’s a really great time for women, particularly ones that kick butt!” Stratus said, modestly.