Delta Dawn sees her part in this coming weekend’s All Star Wrestling Wrestle Reunion VII as a recognition of her hard work, dedication and perseverance when it came to her wrestling career.
Growing up, Delta Dawn (Dawn Murphy) was a natural athlete. Her mom had laced up her skates as a young child and put her into the world of speed skating and figure skating. She excelled at skating, particularly speed skating. It was her mom who always pushed her to do better, and really let Dawn know when she had messed up.
“Every time I lost a race [my mom] would be so disappointed and would be so hurt,” Dawn said, “and I would be so upset, not because I lost a race but because I disappointed my mom.”
Those qualities of hard work, dedication and perseverance were with her as a young woman. Whenever she was on the ice she would notice her mom sitting in the stands, and would always do her best to not disappoint. In her times as a speed skater, she remembers consistently finishing in the top three at the end of the race, just behind two other girls, Lisa and Debbie.
“Lisa would land in second, and Debbie would land in first,” Dawn said. As she continued to work hard in all her races, she started coming in second, but her goal was to always beat Debbie and land in the top spot.
In Fort St. John, British Columbia, she had an opportunity to fight for the gold medal. Dawn recalls it being a long race, about 10 or 15 laps. Her mother and coach were in the stands cheering her on, and Dawn noticed them right away. As the race began, she bolted out past the start line and began the race in first place. Unfortunately for Dawn, however, her stay at the top of the rankings would be short lived. On a sharp turn, her blade lost an edge and deteriorated and Dawn went sliding forcefully into the boards as all the other competitors flew past her.
“Oh, and Dawn’s hit the corner! Now she’s in last place!” Dawn remembers hearing the commentator on the loud speaker.
She looked up at her mom’s face, and the frustration that was on it. Dawn thought to herself, “I am not getting off this ice and seeing that face!”
She rose from the ice and continued the race, but this time she only had one proper skate to work with.
Her coach would tell her mom how powerful her legs were. Now, Dawn had to really put them to work. As the race continued Dawn picked up more speed and started to pass the other competitors. “Now she’s in 8th place, now she’s in 7th,” said the commentator.
Eventually, she had Lisa in her sights, and in front of her was Debbie. As the race came down to the final couple laps, Dawn accelerated past Lisa, then flew past Debbie to take over the top spot. “And now she’s in first place!”
The race came to an end with Dawn winning the gold medal, and her mom was extremely proud. As was Dawn. She calls it one of her most proudest moments.
Friday night’s show will be another proud moment. Delta Dawn, JR Bundy and Terry “The Frog” Tomko will all be in the limelight at Wrestle Reunion VII, at the Alice McKay Building Cloverdale Fairgrounds in Surrey, BC. After her many sacrifices in the world of pro wrestling, after the years of entertaining Dawn Murphy is ready to be honoured.
Her first wrestling show is still etched in her memory. Al Tomko’s All Star Wrestling was in town, and Dawn was very excited. With the permission of Tomko, she asked if she could set up her own stand to sell autographed pictures of the wrestlers. Tomko obliged and she would do that regularly. One day while school was out for the summer, Tomko asked a 16-year-old Dawn if she would like to try out professional wrestling. However, the training school was out in Cloverdale, BC, a good nine-plus hours south from Prince George where Dawn was staying.
Dawn had to persuade her mom to take her to Cloverdale. She knew this is what she wanted to do. Her mom agreed.
After learning the craft of pro wrestling, she adopted the name Delta Dawn — it was Tomko’s idea, based upon Dawn living in Delta, BC (and the hit song didn’t hurt) — and was ready to become a professional wrestler. She debuted in 1987, staying with Tomko’s All Star promotion for a year, followed by another year in Calgary, and then Winnipeg. There were times she changed her gimmick up a bit, to capitalize on her legitimate First Nations background, as she is half Carrier First Nation from the Beaver Clan / Lake Babine Nation (and her father’s side is Ukrainian/Russian).
After all the traveling in Canada, working with the likes of Rhonda Sing, Tina Shallamar, Wonder Woman, Despina Mantagas, Blue Angel and Iron Maiden, the next memorable step was decidedly further afield.
The last years of Delta Dawn’s career took place in the women’s divisions in All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. That’s where her and WWE Hall of Famer Madusa Miceli tag teamed together, and she would go on to become an inspiration to Dawn. “Her wrestling style, how powerful her interviews were, the amount of people that adored her… her wrestling ability was remarkable.” Dawn said about Madusa.
Dawn loved everything about being in Japan and believed that was the pinnacle of her career. The entertainment aspect wasn’t hard to grasp for Dawn either. She was a natural on the mic and in interviews and was a well-rounded character.
“In Canada, I was always a babyface, but in Japan, I was a heel, and I absolutely love being a heel.”
Her former manager Jonathan “Fuzzy” Sayers always saw Dawn’s potential. He was one of the first to tell Al Tomko about her skill. “She basically had all the ability and agility that made her a superstar in wrestling,” said Sayers, “although, I was one of the first that said to Al Tomko this young girl will be a star, Tomko realized that she had talent and pushed her to the top.”
Tomko, along with some of her other great coaches such as Stu Hart, were instrumental to Dawn’s success. While wrestling for Stampede Wrestling under Hart, Dawn was able to grow her wrestling ability to new heights.
“I really gained a lot of strength because I had always heard about the mythical Dungeon and I always wanted to know what that was like and if I had the ability to last through the Dungeon, and I did, thankfully,” Dawn said. “I learned how to be strong and a lot of the submission holds because of the Harts and allowing me to work with them in the Dungeon. It was a huge moment in my life to successfully be coached and trained in the Dungeon.”
Aside from the in-ring action, what many fans remember about Delta Dawn were her snakes. “I had two King Burmese pythons, both over seven-feet long,” she recalled. “My first was named Precious and the second was a rescue I assisted SPCA to remove from an abusive home from Calgary and her name was Destiny.”
In 1992 it came time for Dawn to retire. She had paid her dues, and had a fantastic career in pro wrestling, but it didn’t come without sacrifices. She was ready to start focusing on building a family, but unfortunately, the bumps and bruises of being a wrestler had taken their toll. After visits to the doctor, they had come to the conclusion that the internal injuries sustained from her time in the ring made her unable to have children. Dawn relied on her doctor, who would later help her overcome a heart condition to remain positive through all the hardships.
“[My doctor] has been a real inspiration to me and getting me back into shape and the love of my sport and really helped me remember it was wrestling that it was wrestling that I truly adored and something to work towards and achieve again,” Dawn said. “I started working out, working on a lot of challenges … Now I’m feeling great, I just passed medical clearance with really awesome reports from my doctor.”
With in vitro fertilization not working either, Dawn and her husband, Chris Murphy (they married in 1997), looked into adoption and, in 2000 Ashley arrived in their lives. Dawn is very thankful for her family but hopes that pro wrestling is not in her daughter’s future.
With Wrestle Reunion, Dawn is grateful that the sport is calling her back so many years after she retired, something she didn’t think would ever happen.
“This is absolutely golden for me in my books. I’m telling absolutely anybody and everybody, and I’m proud of it.”
Though many challenges came into her life, Dawn battled through them all and was able to put them all to rest. And for all those sacrifices, she’s getting rewarded. This accomplishment means the world to Dawn, and now, she is thrilled that her mind, body and soul, are at peace.
All Star Wrestling Wrestle Reunion VII
WHEN: July 21, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
WHERE: Cloverdale Fairgrounds Alice McKay Building, Surrey, BC
– ASW Trans Canada Title: Moondog Manson vs Mr India (c)
– Grudge Match Teacher vs Student Special referee Terry “The Frog” Tomko: Gorgeous Michelle Starr vs Matt Xstatic
– Girls Gone Wrestling Title: Bambi Hall (c) vs Chelsea Green (Laurel Van Ness of GFW)
– ASW Tag Team Titles: Devastation (c) vs The Voros Twins
– Clark Connors vs The Dream
– Old Timers Match: Randy The Pimp Taylor vs Bruiser Joe