Some say she treated her students and troupe of wrestlers well, offered a fair percentage of income and provided opportunities for them to succeed. Others claim she mistreated them, took their money, encouraged them to use drugs and basically acted as their pimp.
On March 12, 2018 WWE announced it would hold the first Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. Shortly after the announcement, social media lit up with outraged fans, a change.org petition grew to the thousands, and Snickers threatened to pull out as a WrestleMania sponsor. In an unusual and prompt capitulation just 3 days later, WWE removed Moolah’s name from the battle royal, renaming it as the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal.
However, Pandora’s box was thrust wide open.
The Fabulous Moolah’s legacy is currently being debated with new testimonials from those who knew and worked directly with her. They offer completely different versions of one of wrestling’s most influential female figures.
One of the most compelling voices comes from Michael McCoy, the son of wrestler Sweet Georgia Brown (Susie Mae McCoy). In a 2006 “Free Times” (of Columbia, South Carolina, Moolah’s hometown) article, journalist Murfee Faulk interviewed Michael McCoy and his sister Barbara. These interviews paint a disturbing portrait of Moolah and her common law husband Buddy Lee.
“On the road, Susie Mae received odd knocks on the door at strange hours. Then, she told Barbara, she would begin taking off her dress. When she didn’t comply, she was beaten, often brutally. Sometimes her eyes swelled shut. She had a tooth knocked out. And she was threatened with worse.”
“In those days, the family received $30 to $50 a month from Susie Mae’s wrestling, Barbara says, and it came in the form of cash sent directly from Moolah or Buddy Lee. One of the stipulations of Susie Mae’s agreement with her bosses prohibited her from having her own bank account.”
Michael McCoy is quoted as saying:
“There were no pleasures and luxuries. She was robbed.”
The McCoys were not alone in sharing shocking stories about Moolah. In an interview with Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet, Jeannine Mjoseth, who wrestled as “Mad Maxine, recollected:
“A lot of women paid to train at her school and then went out on the road. They risked life and limb in their matches and she repaid them with the worst kinds of abuses. She skimmed their money, she ignored women who were badly hurt, she pimped women out to creepy men and on and on.”
More than a decade after his 2006 interview, Michael McCoy offers a different perspective.
In a new series of videos, McCoy talks about his memories of Fabulous Moolah. He speaks about his time with Moolah, who he referred to as polite, sweet and someone who treated him well. He denies that Moolah mistreated his mother, saying that there was a fee that Brown and the other wrestlers had to pay to Moolah but that she did not steal from his mother. The interview talks about Moolah helping McCoy in his quest to find out if his father was Buddy Lee. In a contrast to his prior belief that his mother was robbed by her promoters, he says:
“There was a percentage that she had to pay, okay. What happened to the money that my mother sent home for us? That money was squandered by family, not by The Fabulous Moolah. Not by Buddy Lee. My aunties who my mother entrusted to send money home for her kids and for her when she come home, she’d have some money. Everybody else had nice things but us. So my family squandered Sweet Georgia Brown, not The Fabulous Moolah.”
Here’s part one of the 2018 McCoy interview:
And part two:
In a video released last week, wrestlers who worked under Moolah came to her defense as well, including Susan “Tex” Green, “Golden Girl” Lisa Darnell, Brittany Brown, Diamond Lil, Winona Littleheart, Joyce Grable, and Mary Ellison, Moolah’s daughter, who also trained at the camp.
“I don’t know who made up the rumors, but it’s a lie”, states Mary Ellison. “About Sweet Georgia Brown, I don’t know who brought that up, but she did go with Buddy Lee (Moolah’s Ex Husband) when they split… some of the girls went with him, & some of them stayed with my mother. And the ones that went with him, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were drugs & prostitution involved. Which would be back on him, not on my mother.”
Here are the accounts of the 9 wrestlers who trained with Moolah, offering their positive accounts:
Will The Real Fabulous Moolah Please Stand Up?
On Apr 17, 1961 The Fabulous Moolah appeared on “To Tell The Truth”. None of the four celebrity panelists correctly guessed who the The Real Fabulous Moolah was. Today, we’re still guessing.
“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Opinion: Sadly, The Fabulous Moolah’s legacy is filled with vastly conflicting reports and no concrete evidence to definitively vindicate or implicate her. She was no doubt a trailblazer. If falsely accused, it is a significant loss not to have her name honored in women’s wrestling and no doubt painful for those who knew and respected her. On the other hand, her detractors have expressed equally fixed and painful recollections. WWE had little choice but to remove Moolah’s name from the Battle Royal.
Interestingly, the conundrum in resolving her legacy is reflected in the two different accounts offered by Sweet Georgia Brown’s son, Michael McCoy. In the recent videos, McCoy offers a positive recollection of Moolah’s kindness. However, in the 2006 Free Times article, which was based on interviews with Michael and his sister, Moolah is portrayed as downright corrupt and perhaps even dangerous.
It is important to note that the events in question took place before he was born and when was just a young child. His knowledge is not firsthand. Instead, it is based on the recollections he gathered while on his difficult quest to discover more about his family origins. An array of conflicting sources have had his ear, including his family members, other wrestlers and The Fabulous Moolah herself.
Is it possible to ever know the truth about The Fabulous Moolah? Was WWE right to take her name off the Battle Royal? Did putting it on in the first place make the company look hypocritical with respect to the Women’s Revolution? Let us know in the comments below.
This article was co-written by Thomas Hall and Heidi Alexander.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 26 wrestling books. His latest book is the WWE Grab Bag.
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