Obit of the Day: “Loved to Be Hated”
Mae Young relished her role as wrestling villain. Throughout her professional career - which covered seven decades as an athlete, trainer, and promoter - she played up her “bad guy” role everythime she stepped into the ring, and even outside of it.
A high school athlete who led her softball team to a state championship, her real interest was professional wrestling. As a teen she took lessons from a former champ, Ed “Strangler” Lewis and by the time she left high school she was ready to turn pro.
For the next forty years, Mae Young would take on all comers, most notably Mildred Burke who was hero to Ms. Young’s villain. But Ms. Young never minded and enjoyed the persona so much that she would carry it into the outside world. She was arrested on at least one occasion for beating up a man who accused her of stealing $100 from him, the charges were dropped when she told the court that she was defending herself from unwanted advances. She was known for her hard drinking, cigar smoking, and men’s wardrobe. As another wrestler said in the 2004 documentary Lipstick & Dynamite, “Back in 1955, you didn’t do that.”
While still early in her career, Ms. Young began training other women. Her most notable protege was a girl from South Carolina named Lillian Ellison. Ms. Ellison would become the most famous woman in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly WWF) history - “The Fabulous Moolah.” The two would end up sharing a home together with another wrestler, “Diamond Lil,” who stood 3’8” tall.
Ms. Young would participate in WWE events into her 70s, famously winning a 2000 bikini contest against much younger women - by removing her top.
She was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004 and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
Mae Young, whose 90th birthday was celebrated on the WWE national program Monday Night Raw in March 2013, died on January 14, 2014.
(Undated image of Mae Young, circa 1940s-1950s, is courtesy of fanpop.com)
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