Battle of the Baddest Women on Earth

By day they’re kindergarten teachers, accountants and moms. By night…let’s just say you wouldn’t want to run into these ladies in a wrestling ring.

Battle of the Baddest Women on Earth

Most of the time, they live out nine-to-five routines as psychologists, accountants, mothers, hairdressers and kindergarten teachers. But on nights and weekends they become Bettie Rage, Cheerleader Melissa, Pink Flash Kira, Courtney Rush and Mistress Barbara. In arenas and dark church basements around the city, they put on their spandex costumes and climb into the ring. For a few minutes, they become merciless and violent fighters.

Genevieve Goulet fights Urban Miles during a male/female wrestling gala in Montreal. Goulet is known professionally as Lufisto. Described as “one of the best Quebecoise female wrestlers of all time,” Goulet remains humble – she works as a graphic designer and currently lives in Ohio.
Genevieve Goulet fights Urban Miles during a male/female wrestling gala in Montreal. Goulet is known professionally as Lufisto. Described as “one of the best Quebecoise female wrestlers of all time,” Goulet remains humble – she works as a graphic designer and currently lives in Ohio.
Goulet fights Scottish wrestler Nikki Storm at the Femme Fatales all-female wrestling gala in Montreal. These competitions are often held in church basements.
Goulet fights Scottish wrestler Nikki Storm at the Femme Fatales all-female wrestling gala in Montreal. These competitions are often held in church basements.
Karine Brouillard, 35, goes by Bettie Rage in the ring. She started her wrestling career in 2011, and has a long history in the body-building and weightlifting circuits. “When people see a woman with my build, they just think I’m going to kill them!” says Brouillard.
Karine Brouillard, 35, goes by Bettie Rage in the ring. She started her wrestling career in 2011, and has a long history in the body-building and weightlifting circuits. “When people see a woman with my build, they just think I’m going to kill them!” says Brouillard.

Out of more than 80 wrestling leagues in North America, only half a dozen are dedicated to female-only wrestling, and Montreal is host to one of the most vibrant anywhere. Three times a year, fierce fighters from all over the world gather here to battle for the Femmes Fatales belt. The rest of the year, most of them fight against men.

Wrestlers Leah Von Dutch, Missy, and Angie Skye entering the ring during a Femmes Fatales tournament.
Anna Minoushka is about to enter the ring during a tournament in a Montreal church basement.
Anna Minoushka is about to enter the ring during a tournament in a Montreal church basement.
Kim Varin, 29, is a youth social worker specializing in suicide prevention. She wrestles as Anna Minoushka, a merciless Russian tigress, up for any fight and with only one goal in mind: reaching the top.
Kim Varin, 29, is a youth social worker specializing in suicide prevention. She wrestles as Anna Minoushka, a merciless Russian tigress, up for any fight and with only one goal in mind: reaching the top.

“Some people, like my mum, ask me when I’m going to stop,” concedes Genevieve Lacasse, otherwise known as Sweet Cherrie. Lacasse, 32, has been fighting for fifteen years. “When I meet her for brunch on Mondays,” she continues, “my body hurts, I limp and I am full of bruises, and she asks me why I keep doing it. But that’s it, that’s the fun!”

A bout in the ring during the Femme Fatales wrestling gala in Montreal.
A bout in the ring during the Femme Fatales wrestling gala in Montreal.
Quebecoise wrestler Missy, 26, fights against Niya during the Femme Fatales wrestling gala. Each of the wrestler belongs to a different league where they play either the hero or the villain. Scenarios are elaborated by the women themselves several weeks in advance.
Quebecoise wrestler Missy, 26, fights against Niya during the Femme Fatales wrestling gala. Each of the wrestler belongs to a different league where they play either the hero or the villain. Scenarios are elaborated by the women themselves several weeks in advance.
Cheerleader Melissa stomps Courtney Rush face during the final match of the Femmes Fatales gala. Melissa Marie Anderson, or Cheerleader Melissa, is the daughter of American wrestler Doug Anderson, and is ranked as one of the best wrestlers in North America.
Cheerleader Melissa stomps Courtney Rush face during the final match of the Femmes Fatales gala. Melissa Marie Anderson, or Cheerleader Melissa, is the daughter of American wrestler Doug Anderson, and is ranked as one of the best wrestlers in North America.
Blood on the floor after the final match of Femmes Fatales.
Blood on the floor after the final match of Femmes Fatales.

For Genevieve Goulet, 34, otherwise known as Lufisto and regarded as the best female fighter the province has known, wrestling is a fighting sport, but also an extreme form of theater with ways to express and challenge herself in an extremely macho world. “Wrestling made me become more feminine and more confident. When I fight, I want to show that a woman can stand up and do as much as a man.”

Ontarian wrestler Kaithlin Diemond, 25, has been fighting for nine years. A fan of the sport since her childhood, she decided to pursue wrestling as a career when she was 10 years old. Since she trains in Mexico, she hides behind a luchadore mask.
Ontarian wrestler Kaithlin Diemond, 25, has been fighting for nine years. A fan of the sport since her childhood, she decided to pursue wrestling as a career when she was 10 years old. Since she trains in Mexico, she hides behind a luchadore mask.
Quebecoise wrestler Missy fights against Angie Sky and Leah Von Dutch during Femmes Fatales.
Quebecoise wrestler Missy fights against Angie Sky and Leah Von Dutch during Femmes Fatales.
Quebecoise wrestler Deziree, 31, or Melissa Shank, pictured with her daughter. In real life, she is a waitress. She started fighting after she gave birth, and says she feels more feminine when she's in the ring. “I am really not a violent person, but here, I love to play the villain. It's more fun; you can do all the ugly tricks! When you play the good one, people have to pity you - but fans love you more,” she says.
Quebecoise wrestler Deziree, 31, or Melissa Shank, pictured with her daughter. In real life, she is a waitress. She started fighting after she gave birth, and says she feels more feminine when she’s in the ring. “I am really not a violent person, but here, I love to play the villain. It’s more fun; you can do all the ugly tricks! When you play the good one, people have to pity you – but fans love you more,” she says.
Genevieve Goulet hugs Quebecoise wrestler Bettie Rage after a fight at Femmes Fatales.
Genevieve Goulet hugs Quebecoise wrestler Bettie Rage after a fight at Femmes Fatales.

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Julie Turgeon, who contributed reporting for this story, is a freelance journalist who has been working with Radio Canada International and La Presse. She works locally and abroad, and has covered, among other things, the first free elections in Tunisia.