Rita Marie Chatterton – Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee

Trailblazer, mentor, and survivor are the words that describe Rita Marie Chatterton, aka Rita Marie. Rita Marie was the first referee to debut in the WWF/WWE and is the first female referee in pro wrestling history.

Her first official match as a referee was Aug 4, 1984 for the World Wrestling Federation, now known as the WWE. However, she received her license in September of 1984 through the New York athletic commission.

Just like Jackie Robinson, she broke down gender barriers, however just like Jackie Robinson she was met with great challenges.

Rita was trained by pro wrestling legend former WWWF (WWE) North American tag team champion The Stamford Stomper Tony Altomare.

Rita Marie Chatterton
[Photo: Pro Wrestling Fandom]

Rita Marie Chatterton – Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee

Rita Marie Chatterton was officially licensed in New York, and in 1984 she made her debut as the then World Wrestling Federation, now known as WWE’s first female referee. She was trained by former WWWF (WWE) North American tag team champion Tony Altomare.

Rita wanted to be a professional wrestler when lost her brother in a motorcycle accident. It was his dream to wrestle. To honor him, Rita wanted to be in the wrestling industry. Rita worked hard and didn’t give up being in the wrestling industry.

At Tony’s school, he was hard on his wrestlers. He made it tough, so there were less wrestlers to show up the next day to weed out the ones who couldn’t handle it, but Rita didn’t care. No matter what she went through, she had risen to the occasion.

She was a referee from 1984-1986. It’s only in the past several years that she is now being justified, and her legacy is being restored. According to this article in the New York Post

“Chatterton “has suffered years of ongoing depression, substance abuse, disordered eating, lost income, and overall a decreased quality of life,” according to the letter.”

Rita received the 2021 IPWHF International Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Trailblazer Award, being partial to the International Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is breaking ground by preserving pro wrestling history.

Trailblazers such as Rita Marie’s contribution is now both justified and officially verified. Over a year ago, a substitute teacher assigned a young girl named Jemma to write an essay on what career she wanted to choose.

Jemma wrote an essay on wanting to be a pro wrestler when she grew up. The teacher scoffed at her dream and demanded that she rewrite it, or she would get a zero. Jemma said she would take the zero because she had a justified answer for that teacher.

 “The way I feel about it, you don’t wreck a kid’s dream no matter what. Jemma stood her ground I am proud of her for standing up for herself.

The next day, I called Mario Mancini, former WWE wrestler and owner of Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling, and asked him what we could do. The next show, Mario booked her to valet a few matches”

Since this occurred Jemma has now been on over 48 shows and is becoming internationally known.

Jemma is a type 1 diabetes warrior, and every day is a fight for her. Jemma is highly respected amongst the pro wrestling community and now working as a pro wrestling manager/ valet on a regular basis.

In an interview earlier this year, Rita Marie Chatterton said,

“I’m so honored to be nominated to the Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame. My advice to people is never to give up, believe in yourself, believe in others, and always look at the solution and not the problem.”

The Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame was founded in 2022 by Christopher Annino, Susan Tex Green, Angel Orsini, and Gary Wolf. Its mission is to preserve the history of amateur and professional women’s wrestling.

Credentials needed for nomination:

The nominee must have made a significant contribution to the history of women’s wrestling, both amateur and professional in different eras. These eras include.

-1800’s to 1910 Pre Radio-Era

-1920’s-1950’s Radio Era

-1950’s to 1970’s Early TV Era

-1980’s to 2000 Modern TV Era

-2000’s-Present Internet Era

A lot of women are not credited enough for what they did in the wrestling world.

[Photo: Rita Marie Chatterton]
Rita Marie was officially inducted into the Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame by her student Jemma on August 26, 2023, at the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Albany, New York.

On March 30, 2024, part of the United States Wrestling Federation event in Mystic, Connecticut.

Rita Marie returned the favor and gave Jemma the first-ever ambassador award for the Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame. Courtesy of Mike “Fogman” Avitable of Center Ring here.

Rita officially joined the 2023 inaugural class of the Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame, which also includes Mildred Burke, Susan “Tex” Green, Marva Scott, Ethel Johnson, Cora Livingston, Olympic Gold Medalist Iryna Merleni, Toni Rose and Donna Christanello, Beverly “Hammer” Shade, Babs Wingo, and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling “GLOW” representing GLOW (Jeanne Hollywood Basone).