Professional wrestling legend and one of the toughest lady wrestlers in history, Johnnie Mae Young, passed away late yesterday after falling ill several days ago. Young had previously been reported as having passed away over a week ago but those reports were premature and Young “kicked out at two.”
Young's career began either in the late 30s or early 40s depending on which story was being told at the time and whether or not Young wanted to brag about being in the ring for over nine decades.
The WWE helped with a resurgence of Young's career by bringing her in several times in the 90s and 2000s to take part in mostly comedy skits but she also was still taking bumps (including through a table in the ring) well into her 70s.
Along with Cora Combs and lifelong friend The Fabulous Moolah, Young was considered one of the toughest and most feared lady competitors to ever step foot in the ring. As a teenager Young was an amateur wrestler in high school often wrestling and beating some of the top wrestlers in Oklahoma.
During World War II Young was instrumental in popularizing women's wrestling by bringing it to the forefront of wrestling shows across the country.
While never a "World Ladies Champion" Young did hold the NWA Florida Ladies Heavyweight Championship as well as the NWA United States Ladies Heavyweight Championship. Young was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame along with Moolah in 2008 and into the prestigious Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, NY in 2004.
A number of wrestlers and people in the wrestling community have expressed sadness and condolences when learning of the passing of Young.
"Mae Young touched a lot of lives both in and out of wrestling, she helped so many and she paved the road for so many others. She was one of a kind." said veteran Cueball Carmichael.
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