The Sand Springs, Oklahoma native, born Johnnie May Young spent the better part of nine decades entertaining fans around the world. She widely recognized for not only her in-ring career but her sporadic WWE appearances over the last 15 years.
Most fans will only remember her comedic appearances on WWE television programming. Whether she was getting powerbombed through a table, or giving "birth" to a hand while in an on-screen relationship with Texas native Mark Henry, Mae Young was very popular with the fans and anyone who came into contact her. But she was also a very accomplished wrestler herself, making her mark during the Great Depression and World War II.
On December 7, 1941 (the history day that Pearl Harbor was attacked), Mae was in the ring competing in Memphis, Tennessee. While countless men were deployed with the military, Mae helped women expand their role in the sport and actively made women's wrestling a popular sight. Throughout the 1930's and 1940's, Mae was able to present women's wrestling to Canada and even compete for the legendary Stu Hart in Calgary. In 1951, she became the NWA's first Florida Women's Champion and became the first NWA United States Women's Champion some 17 years later in 1968. Much of her efforts were told in the 2005 documentary "Lipstick and Dynamite, Piss and Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling" alongside Moolah. The movie chronicled women's wrestling from it's start in the 1930's through the 1960's, and is highly recommended to watch.
She was known as a true pioneer for the sport, and is someone that has been looked up to and incredibly respected by not only fans but everyone in the wrestling community that have ever had the pleasure of working with her. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, and was inducted by fellow inductee Pat Patterson. She would continue to be associated with WWE, competing on the 800th edition of "WWE Monday Night Raw," and again on an old-school themed edition of "Raw" in 2010. Her appearance on that episode was historic, as she became the only person to ever wrestle in nine different decades.
On March 4, 2013, she was presented with a WWE Divas Championship by Vince McMahon and Triple H and was declared "Forever The Divas Champion." It was her final on-screen appearance with the company, as they helped her celebrate her 90th birthday.
On December 30, she was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness and placed on life support. Ten days later, she was taken off life support and placed under hospice care at her South Carolina home. And it was officially reported by WWE on Tuesday night that she had passed. WWE Chairman Vince McMahon offered a few sentimental words regarding Mae's passing:
There will never be another Mae Young. Her longevity in sports entertainment may never be matched, and I will forever be grateful for all of her contributions to the industry. On behalf of WWE, I extend our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.
In the past 24 hours, countless thoughts and prayers have been sent to Mae's family and friends from the WWE Universe. On behalf of everyone at Examiner, our deepest condolences are also included. For more information, check out the Houston Pro Wrestling Examiner on Facebook as well as follow along on Twitter.