The death of woman wrestler Kat Leroux on July 27, 2020, at the age of 55, brought forth plenty of memories from friends and colleagues in the wrestling business. There were stories on her toughness, her loyalty, her sweetness, but we’ll give her the first word, addressing how good it was to be bad.
During an international tour in Germany in March 1991, Leroux talked to the Stars and Stripes military newspaper. “I don’t care how much they hate me, they will hate me even more by the time I’m done,” she warned.
The very nature of being bad is what intrigued Leroux to become a pro wrestler. “Everybody likes being mean right? Isn’t there people sometimes you’d like to go smash them one… they annoy ya? There ya go, it’s fun.”
Leroux knew a little about toughness from her parents Bonnie Ann Potvin Leroux and Arthur Corlew, whom one month after the birth of their twin daughters were arrested for disorderly conduct and assault of a police officer, according to articles from the Glens Falls Times in 1964; a friend, Arthur Winchell, was arrested at the same time.
For much of her career, Jon Simmes was the promoter of a group of women wrestlers that included Leroux and his wife Misty Blue Simms. From where he stood, Simmes said that Leroux had a natural talent to antagonize the crowds. “She could spit from the ring, and hit specific people in the second row, right in the forehead!” recalled Simmes in an interview with SlamWrestling.net.
Sometimes the fans would get a little too handsy and Leroux would defend herself no matter who it was. “She knocked the Mayor’s teenage son right on his ass on camera, for grabbing her ass that was in Loughlin for the LPWA,” posted Simmes in the Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling Facebook group.
That toughness began for Kathleen Mary Leroux, on September 3, 1964, in Glens Falls, NY, where she was born, alongside twin sister Kimberly Leroux, who died as an infant. Early days were in nearby Gansevoort, and for schooling, Leroux schools in Glens Falls, attending St. Michael’s Catholic School, and then St. Mary’s.
At the age of 16, she was a member of the U.S. Ladies Boxing Team. When it disbanded, all 10 of the ladies were recruited by Misty Blue Simms to give professional wrestling a try. Three of them took her up on the new challenge – Kat and her two sisters, Kerry and Kelly. Simms sent them to Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school in Malden, Massachusetts.
From that day forward, Leroux and Simms’ names would be intertwined.
Leroux debuted as a pro wrestler in 1985, after 12 months of training. Soon thereafter, she helped train another Glens Falls native, Shirl Sprague, whom they would help transform into the villainous Russian Comrade Orga Stalinski.
The troupe with Misty Blue, Kat, and the gang would be known as LOVE – Ladies of Violent Entertainment. Others in the group included Linda Dallas, Pat Lancey, Comrade Orga, Cookie Zula, Mad Dog Debbie Irons, Crystal Blue, Black Venus, and veteran ladies like Candi Divine. They wrestled throughout New England, for Kowalski’s International Wrestling Federation and New England Championship Wrestling. (Of the Leroux sisters, only Kat lasted; although Kerry wrestled Carrie Liberty and was Misty Blue’s partner in The American Dolls for a time.)
With Leroux (sometimes spelled Laroux) as the villain, she would often challenge for Misty Blue’s IWF Ladies Championship. Mad Dog Debbie Irons was a manager, and had one of the first all-women stables in wrestling, called the Mad Dog Army with Linda Dallas, Comrade Orga and Black Venus; Leroux was sometimes in her charge too.
The group rose to prominence when Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) called. The Charlotte, NC-based company had not recognized a women’s champion since The Fabulous Moolah brought her women’s title permanently to the WWF. Misty Blue was rechristened the NWA United States women’s champion and she would defend the title the world over.
Despite having television matches in WCW, JCP never did focus on a women’s division, though it helped with publicity, as throughout the late 1980s, the trio of Kat, Misty and Linda competed throughout the independent scene once more.
The birth of the all-women’s organization, Ladies Professional Wrestling Association (LPWA), gave all three a chance for new opportunities. In the LPWA, Leroux cemented her place as one of the premiere women’s tag teams, forming the Nasty Girls with Linda Dallas, becoming top challengers to the LPWA Tag Team champions, Misty Blue and her new partner Heidi Lee Morgan.
Internationally, Leroux wrestled in Japan, South America, Puerto Rico, and did several tours all through Europe.
On one occasion while overseas, Simmes saw Leroux’s toughness show up. “She was noted for getting into a brawl with a gang of Turkish thugs in Hamburg Germany, in which her, Little Louie a midget wrestler, and their bus driver fought off some 12 gang members outside a nightclub. The next night, she returned with every wrestler on the tour and found these bastards and gave them some All-American payback.”
The wrestling career of Leroux continued into the 1990s, but an in-ring injury led to her retirement. “In one of her last matches (against Misty), Kat jumped off the top rope to drop an elbow on Misty’s head. Upon landing, her foot wedged between pads on the ring and it twisted Kat’s leg, breaking it,” recalled Simmes. “She actually finished the match on one leg! After five surgeries doctors could never completely repair the damage, and Kat retired.”
Up until her death on July 27, Simmes said that Leroux “was living in New Jersey with her closest relatives, and upon diagnosis of her failing liver and kidneys, returned home. She died of pneumonia after a surgery in her hometown of Glens Falls.”
The tributes and memories poured in throughout Facebook and Twitter.
Jeffrey Ludy, whom wrestled professionally as The Irish Leprechaun, was the first to share the news online: “Kat Leroux please R.I.P., A good friend and fellow worker, just made the last trip to the ring…. many blessings and safe journey my friend.”
The Irish Leprechaun and Leroux often teamed in mixed tag team matches against Misty Blue and Tiger Jackson. One of those matches came at a benefit show sponsored by former referee Dick Woerhle; the show was to benefit those with mental illness, with funds going to Woerhle’s daughter and others with severe mental illness. It was a cause that spoke close to the heart of Leroux, as after her retirement from wrestling, she became a care aid to those with mental illnesses.
“I remember her silly laugh, and how I had to stop myself from laughing in the ring when we we’re working as heels,” Ludy added.
Leroux’s wrestling colleagues remembered her smile, laughter and overall good nature.
“She was a doll to work with. My favorite of Misty’s opponents. She showed great intensity during a match. She was a perfect lil’ heel. We had a lot fun. Although I haven’t spoken to her in over 30 years, a couple nights before she passed, she was on my mind,” said Carmine DeSpirito, whom sometimes managed Kat in her matches against Misty Blue.
“I just remember what a sweet girl she was, and what a fabulous worker, she went out of her way and welcomed new gals to the Biz!!! Thank you Kat” said Brittany Brown, another alumni of Kowalski’s school.
Referee Billy Silverman chimed in online too. “In the late ’80s early ’90s, I worked the New England summer fair circuit for several years. Always looked forward to working with Misty Blue and her girls Linda Dallas, Kat Leroux, Orga, Nasty Sheri. I always remember her and what a sweet and kind person she was. Her and Linda Dallas use to crack me me up in the ring. She was far too young to pass away. Rest in Peace my beautiful friend.”
As for Simms, the natural and long-time foe of Leroux, they stayed good friends through the subsequent years. On the day of Leroux’s funeral, Simms shared her thoughts:
“Kat lived life full speed, with no regrets,” said Simms. “Today we say goodbye to a friend, fellow traveler, and member of the wrestling family, Kat Leroux. A true hard worker, a pleasure to be around.. thank you Kat, and fly high!”
According to her obituary, the 55-year-old Leroux is survived by a daughter Kaitlyn, a son Jacob, a sister Kerry, and many more extended family members. She is predeceased by her parents, Arthur Corlew and Bonnie Potvin, her twin sister, Kimberly Leroux; and her sister, Kelleen Potvin.
Top photos: Left courtesy Chris Monaco; right by Howard Baum