UPDATE 6:30 am CST 1/15/14 – Mae Young died in her South Carolina home Tuesday night. Although there were conflicting reports of her passing last week, Mae Young (AKA The Amazing Mae Young) was confirmed as passing away by the McMahon family of WWE.
Johnnie Mae Young was born on March 23, 1923 in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Professional Wrestling was just being established in those early years. Without the medium of television, wrestling matches took place mostly outdoors and traveled on a weekly basis.
The “Amazing” Mae Young joined the sport when she was only 15. As one of the early pioneers of female wrestling, Mae Young was more than a pretty face. She put in the same hard work that all the men did.
In fact, one could argue that it was even more difficult for women in those days. Now that female wrestling has become very popular, women have Mae Young and others to thank for their good fortune.
Mae Young was featured in the 2005 documentary “Lipstick and Dynamite”. Besides Young, the documentary interviewed other first ladies of wrestling; The Fabulous Moolah, Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillem, Ida Mae Martinez, Ella Waldek, and Penny Banner.
The first NWA U.S. Women’s champion, Mae Young had a career that spanned nine decades. Young is the only professional wrestler that can make that claim. She returned to the forefront in the 2000’s with memorable appearances at Royal Rumble, and a period of dating Mark Henry. Mae Young was always a fan favorite. She embraced her role later in life as a tough old lady who kind of creeped everybody out, but in a good way.
Her last few years were spent with her best friend, The Fabulous Moolah (Mary Lillian Ellison). The two had participated in everything from “bra and panties” matches together to tag team battles, even against men. They were always loved by their fans, and Mae Young was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004. The WWE gave her the same honor in March 2008.
Tributes to the amazing Mae Young began to pour in on Twitter:
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) January 15, 2014
— Ladies of Wrestling (@LadyWrestling) January 15, 2014
The legendary Johnnie Mae Young has passed. The Oklahoman lead an amazing life. Her mental/physical toughness is an inspiration to all. RIP
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) January 15, 2014
After reading the tweets of professional wrestlers, it is obvious that Johnnie Mae Young will be missed by family, friends, and fans alike. She was a truly remarkable woman.