Mae Young was reportedly hospitalized on Dec. 31, then moved to hospice care. Her death had been incorrectly reported in the days after. The WWE did not give a cause of death.
Johnnie Mae Young was born in Oklahoma in 1923, Young began her professional wrestling career in the 40’s and remained active into late last year, making her the only wrestler to have competed in eight different decades. In a statement, WWE called Young the “oldest living squared circle personality.”
Full WWE Statement:
WWE is greatly saddened by the news that WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young, beloved member of the WWE family and oldest living squared circle personality, has passed at the age of 90.
Johnnie Mae Young was truly one of the greatest female competitors to ever lace up a pair of boots. A proud competitor for three quarters of a century and valued part of WWE to her last day, Young truly blazed a path for future female grapplers beginning in the 1940s.
From the moment she first stepped through the ropes, Young established herself as one of the most active and successful female Superstars – including becoming the first U.S. Women’s Champion, carrying out one of the most storied rivalries of the time with the legendary Mildred Burke in 1954 and being among the first female competitors to tour post-war Japan.
In addition to her contributions inside the ring, Young played a huge part in training the Superstars of tomorrow, including late, great Hall of Famer The Fabulous Moolah – the longest reigning champion in sports-entertainment history.
In recent years, Young’s career received the recognition it deserved. In 2005, she and several of her contemporaries were profiled in “Lipstick and Dynamite,” a documentary film about the early pioneers of women’s wrestling. In 2008, Young joined co-star, trainee and late friend Moolah and “Sensational” Sherri Martel in the highest class of Superstars, as she became only the third female to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at that time.
Reactions from WWE stars:
Jim Ross: “The legendary Johnnie Mae Young has passed. The Oklahoman lead an amazing life. Her mental/physical toughness is an inspiration to all. RIP”
Natalya: “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.”
MVP: “Every time I saw Mae Young, EVERY TIME, she would greet me with a BIG smile & hug & then say “Now what was your name again?” & laugh! RIP”
Mickie James: “A fighter until the very end! Forever in our hearts,memories, & fighting spirit! A true HOF legend! #RIPMaeYoung”
Todd Grisham: “Rest in Peace Mae Young. One of the greatest female wrestlers ever. She was always very nice to me and was forever smiling.”
Triple H: “#RIPTheOneandOnlyGreatMaeYoung Thank you for your example to my girls on how to get all you want out of life! #pioneer #legend #whatarun”
The Rock: “She’s a wrestling pioneer. I truly had deep affection & respect for “Aunty Mae” Young. RIP. #IMissUMae”
Mae Young tribute video: