Johnnie Mae Young, a pioneering female wrestler and World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame member, is pictured in this World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. photo released to Reuters on January 15, 2014. Handout via Reuters
Johnnie Mae Young, a pioneering female wrestler and World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame member whose career spanned eight decades, died on Tuesday, the organization said.
She was 90.
"There will never be another Mae Young," said Vince McMahon, the chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Young died at her home in Columbia, South Carolina, where she had been under hospice care, a WWE spokesman said.
Known as "The Great Mae Young," she got her start in the sport at age 15 as a member of her Tulsa, Oklahoma, high school boys' wrestling team, according to a WWE biography. She began her professional wrestling career in 1939.
Her signature move was called the "Bronco Buster," in which the attacker jumps up and down on a seated opponent's chest, sometimes in a sexually suggestive way, WWE said.
While potential male wrestlers were off fighting in World War Two, Young and other women made inroads in the sport. She helped open Canadian wrestling to women and was among the first female wrestlers to tour post-war Japan in 1954, WWE said.
After several decades of performing, she turned her attention to training and coached her longtime friend Lillian Ellison, known as "The Fabulous Moolah."
Ellison was the first female member of the WWE's Hall of Fame. She died in 2007. Young became the third woman to receive the honor when she was inducted in 2008.
In their later years, Young and Ellison shared a home and sports complex in Columbia, where they trained would-be wrestlers. They also made comic appearances in televised WWE events.
(Additional reporting by Harriet McLeod; editing by Colleen Jenkins, G Crosse)