Joyce Paustian became a devoted fan of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) wrestling, watching it as a kid on TV in the 1970s. In her teen years, Joyce started attending the local matches in her hometown of Davenport, Iowa. She loved seeing the action of the colorful stars up close from her ringside seat. Joyce also had a growing interest in photography. She used her close proximity to the ring to taking some posed and action shots of her favorites for her personal collection.

After a few years, Joyce got a better camera, and started attending more matches throughout the Midwest area, including Peoria and Rockford in Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin. Most of the shots appearing on this site were taken in either Peoria or Rockford, Illinois. Depending on the location, she often was able to get permission to shoot right at ringside, even though she also had a ringside seat anyway. Her favorite places to shoot pictures were the “spot” shows at the smaller auditoriums and high school gyms. She made connections with Norm Kietzer and Jim Melby of The Wrestling News, and often provided them photos for their magazines during the 1980s.

Joyce Paustian

While also working a regular 40-hour day job, Joyce also shot pictures in Chicago and other bigger Midwestern cities on the weekends. Many of those pictures appeared in publications such as the Wrestling Fans International Association (WFIA) newsletter. Many of her pictures, both retro and current, have appeared in the quarterly Cauliflower Alley Club magazine, The Ear. Joyce is also the official photographer for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, where she had a large gallery showing in 2017 of her vintage photos; she’s also provide SlamWrestling with photos from that event, and others.

Obviously wrestling changed greatly over the years, expanding to bigger crowds and bigger arenas, reducing the need and access for amateur photographers. For Joyce however, the glory days of wrestling will always be the memories from those smaller venue AWA events, where the action of your favorite wrestlers was just a few feet and a great photo op away.

Enjoy the gallery!