Mae Young passed away today, January 14, 2014. She was 90.
She had been battling illness in the past few weeks and was placed on life support and later hospice care before her passing.
The woman wrestling pioneer was born Johnnie Mae Young in 1923. She was the youngest of eight children and born athlete. She wrestled on her boys high school wrestling team and fell in love with professional wrestling early on.
She began wrestling professionally in 1939 after being trained by famed promoter Billy Wolfe. She became a star in wrestling during World War II when many male wrestlers were overseas fighting. She won numerous women’s championships across the country and battled alongside contemporaries like June Byers and Mildred Burke. She also became a trainer in her own right, and is credited for helping train The Fabulous Moolah, arguably the greatest woman wrestler in history.
Young saw an improbable career resurgence in 1999 when she joined Moolah in the WWF. Young and Moolah became regular parts of WWF programming during the end part of the famed “Attitude” era. Young, in her late ‘70s, became a huge fan favorite among WWF fans thanks to her raunchy demeanor, willingness to do anything and undeniable charisma.
Among her infamous stunts included appearing “topless” as part of the Miss Rumble contest at Royal Rumble 2000 and having an illicit affair with a young “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry. That romance led to Mae Young becoming pregnant and delivering a rubber hand.
In the new millennium Young appeared sporadically on WWE programs where she used in comedy segments, as a surprise participant in a bikini contest or treated as a respected legends alongside Fabulous Moolah. Sometimes that all happened within the same appearance.
Her last major wrestling match was on Old School RAW from 2010 where she pinned Michelle McCool and Layla in a Falls Count Anywhere Handicap Match thanks to the help of the current crop of Divas. That match allowed Young the right to say she was the first person in history to wrestle in nine different decades.
Young’s final appearance for WWE was at the Old School RAW in 2013 where WWE celebrated her 90th birthday, which was on March 12, 2013. She was treated like a queen and was presented with her own honorary replica of the WWE Divas Championship, proclaiming her “Forever the Divas Champion.”
She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, becoming only the third woman in history to join the Hall.