The Fabulous Moolah: Wrestling Legend and Controversy

Mary Lillian Ellison, better known as The Fabulous Moolah, was a professional wrestler whose career spanned more than five decades. Born in 1923, Moolah’s impact on women’s wrestling is profound, as she shattered barriers and established women as formidable competitors in a sport traditionally dominated by men.

Early Career and Rise to Fame

Moolah’s enthusiasm for wrestling was sparked in the 1930s after attending local wrestling shows. She was trained by Mildred Burke and her husband Billy Wolfe, embarking on her wrestling journey. However, Moolah’s refusal to engage in the exploitative practices of the time led to a fallout with Wolfe. By the mid-1950s, Moolah and her husband Buddy Lee had started their own booking and promotion business, eventually leading to Moolah’s significant control over women’s professional wrestling.

Record-Breaking Champion

On September 18, 1956, Moolah clinched the title of the third NWA World Women’s Champion. Her first reign lasted an impressive 10 years, and she continued to dominate the sport for decades. Moolah’s 28-year reign as WWE Women’s Champion is an extraordinary record that remains unbeaten. Her dominance in the ring cemented her status as one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time.

Mentorship and Training

Beyond her in-ring achievements, Moolah was a mentor to many successful wrestlers, including WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young and future stars such as Ivory and Molly Holly. She operated a training school for female wrestlers and ran a wrestling promotion company, contributing to her estimated net worth of around $4 million at the time of her passing in 2007.

Controversies and Legacy

Despite her accomplishments, Moolah’s career was not without controversy. Allegations of exploitation, forced sex, drug use, prostitution, and theft have tarnished her legacy. Some former trainees accused her of mistreatment, and the wrestling community remains divided over her impact on the industry.

Moolah’s role in the industry was multifaceted, as she was both a pioneer and a gatekeeper. Her influence paved the way for future generations of female wrestlers, yet her methods and the control she wielded over the industry have been the subject of significant criticism.


The Fabulous Moolah’s career is a story of triumph, dominance, and controversy. Her contributions to women’s wrestling are substantial, and her legacy continues to be a topic of debate. As a wrestler, promoter, and trainer, Moolah left a lasting mark on the sport, shaping it in ways that continue to resonate.

Professional Wrestling

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