Professional wrestling legend Johnnie Mae Young
has passed away at 90 years old. The announcement
was made by WWE Tuesday night (Jan. 14) and echoed on the Twitter
account of the company’s chief brand officer, Stephanie McMahon
“A true pioneer and legend has passed tonight. Long live the memory of my friend and WWE Hall of Famer,” McMahon writes.
WWE CEO Vince McMahon
also released a statement, reading, “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.”
Young made her in-ring debut in 1939 at 15 years old, leading to a career that eventually found her training wrestlers, including Mary Ellison, known in the wrestling world as The Fabulous Moolah, who became one of her closest friends.
Modern wrestling fans will remember Young for her stint in WWE in the late 1990s. Along with Moolah, Young was part of the Attitude Era and never hesitated to get involved in the action, mixing it up with male and female wrestlers. Even in her late 70s and early 80s, Young would participate in matches and angles for the company, one of the most notable being her getting powerbombed through a table by Bubba Ray Dudley.
Young’s story lines in WWE were as varied as possible. She had an on-screen relationship with wrestler Mark Henry, won a bikini contest and even gave birth to a hand — no, really — something WWE fans still joke about more than a decade later. She, along with several other female wrestlers were also the focus of a 2004 documentary, “Lipstick and Dynamite,” which retells the history of women’s wrestling in the 1940s-1960s.
Young was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, but didn’t call it a career there. She continued to be featured sporadically on WWE programming. Her last match for WWE occured on Nov. 15, 2010. She won a Falls Count Anywhere contest against the team of LayCool, becoming the only professional wrestler to ever wrestle in nine different decades.
Her last appearance with the company was on March 3, 2013, during an old-school episode of “WWE RAW.”
The roster celebrated her 90th birthday and after the show, McMahon presented her with a replica of the WWE Divas Championship, naming her “the greatest Divas Champion of all time.”
Take a look below at some of Young’s most memorable moments from her time in WWE.
Her 2008 Hall of Fame induction video
Young vs. Moolah in 1999
Getting powerbombed through a table by Bubba Ray Dudley
Young vs. LayCool in 2010
Vince McMahon presents her the WWE Divas Championship in 2013
Mae and Moolah appear on ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’ in 2005
She gives birth to a hand
She’s given a three minute warning
Young and Moolah vs. Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie
She helps The Rock celebrate his birthday