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Wednesday, June 12

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Windy City Rollers Fri Jun 07 2013

Long Live the (Roller Derby) Queen

wcr-logo.pngIvy King became one of the original stars of roller derby in the mid-1930s. Today, her presence is still felt throughout the derby world and specifically by the Windy City Rollers.

Tomorrow, WCR home teams The Fury and the Manic Attackers will face off to determine who will be the 2013 home season champion. As has been the case since The Fury won the first home season championship in 2005, the winner will be awarded a trophy bearing the name of the derby legend -- the Ivy King Cup.

Elizabeth Gomez -- also known as Juanna Rumbel -- was one of the founders of the Windy City Rollers and said the league decided to honor King after meeting her in 2005 at an event put on by the Roller Derby Hall of Fame.

"She was boisterous and bold," Gomez said. "I was wearing a strapless dress and she kept pointing at my boobs and telling me to 'tuck them in.'"

Gomez said the decision to name the cup after King was an easy one.

"After meeting Ivy, we immediately decided that the cup should be named after her," she said. "I can't remember what kind of hubbub may have happened or if there was a debate. At this point, who cares? What I do remember is that it felt right to honor her this way."

Gomez said the league developed a relationship with King, who presented the cup bearing her name to the league champion until she died in 2006.

The week after her death, King's sister, Phyillis Romano was interviewed by NPR and said King was a very fast skater.

"She used to go to the Madison Gardens roller rink [in Chicago] and skate," Romano said in the interview. "And she was one of the fastest skaters they had. They use to have races and they would tell her to not come out till the end, because nobody would want to join the race if Ivy was going to be in it."

King, in an interview taped for the movie The Roller Derby Wooden Wheel Wonders by filmmaker Joel Justin, agreed with her sister's assessment.

"I was the star of the rink," King said with a shrug. "I was fast."

Gomez said King's attitude, as well as her skating skills, made her the perfect namesake for the league's championship trophy.

"She embodied what we were trying to do," Gomez said. "She was wild and carefree. She was fun and risky. She knew what it was like to be part of building a sport and how it felt to be an athlete. She was a badass. All these qualities are essential for this sport."

Gomez believes King would be very happy to see how roller derby and specifically the Windy City Rollers have developed and evolved over the years.

"It's a sport and women run it for the most part," she said. "I think Ivy would think that's amazing. She grew up in a different era and was a rebel. This would make her proud."

If you go

  • What: The Ivy King Cup championship bout between The Fury and the Manic Attackers.

  • When: Tomorrow, 6pm (doors open at 5pm)

  • Where: UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine

  • How much: General admission tickets are $20 and VIP seating is $35. Tickets are available at the door or via Ticketmaster.

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Jerry Seltzer / June 8, 2013 12:05 PM

Ivy was the first superstar of Roller Derby and skated in the first game at the Chicago Coliseum, August, 1935. Minor correction, she trained at the Arcadia Gardens.

My father invented Roller Derby, and I carried the tradition forward. Largest crowd ever to attend: 50,114, White Sox Park (yes, it was the name then),September 15, 1972.

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