Young was hospitalized and placed on life support in South Carolina last month after her health started to fail. She was recently placed under hospice care and was breathing with the assistance of a machine, the Post & Courier reported. Young was incorrectly reported to have died last week, but she hung on for five more days before passing away.
“There will never be another Mae Young,” WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon said of Young in a statement. “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.”
Though Young said she was born in 1923, some friends believe she may have lied about her age and been born four years earlier. Young is the only person to hold the distinction of wrestling in nine different decades. She wrestled in high school in Oklahoma and then made her professional wrestling debut in 1939. She wrestled during and after World War II, and she was a prominent figure in National Wrestling Alliance.
Young, who was known as “The Queen” and “The Great Mae Young,” joined the WWF in 1999. She was named “Miss Royal Rumble 2000″ at age 76 after winning a bikini contest by supposedly taking off her top. She dated Mark Henry as part of a storyline and even got pregnant and delivered a prosthetic hand for a child for the story.
Young was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004 and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. Her last match was an “Old School” edition of RAW in 2010. She continued to be a part of WWE storylines all the way up through last year.
The Post & Courier’s incorrect report last week that Young had died led to an outpouring of positive sentiment from many wrestling figures:
RIP Mae Young pic.twitter.com/UeHHzGpRCm
— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) January 9, 2014
R.I.P. Mae Young. One of my all-time favorites to work with. Such a good sport. You will be missed. pic.twitter.com/ejpYiIEm32
— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) January 9, 2014
— KAZMA SAKAMOTO (@WWEMrSAKAMOTO) January 9, 2014
Mae Young die she break my heart. I love her forever God bless her
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) January 9, 2014
My grandfather Stu said Mae Young was the toughest woman he had ever met. She was also one of the most beautiful- pic.twitter.com/TjRBBMVXyG
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) January 9, 2014
RIP Mae Young A true trailblazer in our industry. She paved the way for every woman in the pro wrestling business.
— Dixie Carter (@TNADixie) January 9, 2014
A great legend and icon of pro wrestling has passed away. RIP Mae Young. Enjoyed years of working with and friendship with Mae.
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) January 9, 2014
May we all live as boldly as Mae Young, and at least be a quarter as tough. Rest well.
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) January 9, 2014
— Charles Robinson (@WWERobinson) January 9, 2014
On Tuesday night, hours after her death was announced, many figures tweeted their memories of Young:
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) 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
I'll always remember Mae Young. We shared wonderful memories of my grandfather. She made me want to fight. There was no one like her.
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) January 15, 2014
— Frank The Clown (@FrankWWEClown) January 15, 2014
Here is a video of a 76-year-old Young fighting her great friend, The Fabulous Moolah, in 1999 at Smackdown:
She was 76 and still doing a crotch chop:
Here’s Young beating Lay-Cool at “Old School” RAW in 2010: