The wrestling community is deeply saddened by the passing of Joyce Grable, who succumbed to leukemia at the age of 70 on September 29. Grable, often referred to as a “big sister” and a “wrestling mom” by her fellow wrestlers, leaves behind a profound legacy in women’s professional wrestling.
While Fabulous Moolah is often credited with running women’s pro wrestling from the 1960s to the 1980s, it was Joyce Grable, born Betty Wade-Murphy, who played a pivotal role during the majority of the 1970s and ’80s. Grable’s contribution extended far beyond the ring, as she was the driving force behind training the next generation of women’s wrestling stars.
For many, Grable was not just a trainer but a mentor, confidant, and friend. Bambi, also known as Selina Majors, expressed her gratitude, saying, “I’m glad I didn’t go to Moolah’s school because you’re the best teacher ever, and you’re my Wrestling Mom, Big Sister, whatever, and I love you with all my heart.”
Grable’s influence on the wrestling world extended to her students, many of whom went on to have successful careers in the ring. Wendi Richter, one of her trainees, praised Grable’s selfless dedication to training aspiring wrestlers, highlighting the fact that they paid for their training, and Grable gave her expertise without compensation.
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When Grable was inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013, Wendi Richter emphasized her immense contributions, hailing her as “one of the greatest professional wrestlers, man or woman, of all time.” Grable’s impact went beyond the ring; she provided guidance and support to her peers, earning their respect and friendship.
Joyce Grable’s journey into professional wrestling was a twist of fate. She accompanied a friend to wrestling matches in Atlanta, where they encountered Fabulous Moolah. Moolah agreed to train her friend on the condition that Grable joined as well, setting her on an unexpected path to wrestling stardom.
Grable’s wrestling style was characterized by good cardio and a penchant for tag team wrestling. She often teamed up with Vicki Williams, forming a successful partnership. Together, they captured the NWA Women’s World Tag Team titles, solidifying their status as a formidable duo in women’s wrestling.
Beyond her in-ring prowess, Grable’s legacy lies in her nurturing and supportive role in the wrestling world. Her influence extended to a new generation of women wrestlers, and her maternally guiding hand helped shape the careers of many. Grable’s commitment to professionalism and her dedication to maintaining decorum both inside and outside the ring left an indelible mark on the wrestling industry.
Joyce Grable’s passing is a profound loss to the wrestling world. Her impact as a trainer, mentor, and friend will be remembered by all those whose lives she touched.
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Joyce Grable’s journey through the wrestling world was nothing short of remarkable. She transcended her role as a wrestler to become a mentor, friend, and guiding figure for countless individuals in the industry. Her legacy is one of empowerment, professionalism, and the enduring bonds she formed with her peers. Grable’s influence will continue to resonate in the hearts of those she touched, and her memory will forever be cherished in the wrestling community.