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  • Writer's pictureMatt Dod

Not So Fabulous Moolah

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

What have renowned pioneer of pimping and successful author Iceberg Slim () and legendary wrestler Fabulous Moolah got in common?

Their glamorous and flamboyant outfits, gleaming in jewels and dripping in luxury?

They both wrote successful tell-all autobiographies?

They are both revered as anti-hero characters that changed their respective industries?

Well, yes, all of those are true. But that’s not why we are here today.

One is a legend from the 70's, strutting the streets with a harem of beautiful young women, selling them for favours as they accrued a notable wealth. Keeping their women as property, dosed up and addicted to the drugs that they sold. Training underage women in the arts of seduction and cat-fighting.

Unabashedly sexually promiscuous and never shy of using extreme violence as a means to get to the top.

The other is Iceberg Slim …

Mary Lilly Ellison. Born 22nd July 1923 was the youngest of 13 children and the only daughter amongst her crammed household of masculinity. Her mother sadly passed away when she was 8 leaving guidance up to her older brothers and father. She quickly learnt how to be physically tough and emotionally domineering.

Never one to fit the mould of the quiet housewife, Mary broke free of the stereotypes expected of women of her era. After attending several local live shows with her dad, decided to make a break into the wrestling industry.


“When I was coming up, it was unheard of for a lady wrestler to be strong and independent. We were the valets for the men stars, and we had men – promoters, other wrestlers, husbands or boyfriends – telling us exactly what to do. I did what I waned to do, ever since I was a little girl an defied my dear daddy’s wishes by entering the ring” – Fabulous Moolah, Mary Lilly Ellison.

Mary did not adhere to societies mentality towards women of the age in America and strived toward change. However this change was yet to come to fruition and progress is never instant – she was given the character of Slave girls Moolah – valet for Buddy Rodgers and hated it. Slave Girl Moolah – progressive.

Sisterhood of the squared circle, The History & Rise of women’s wrestling – “Respected by her allies and feared by her enemies. As an in-ring competitor, she was widely considered the most well-known female wrestler in the game for 30 years.” …

Changing her name to The Fabulous Moolah, she quickly became NWA women’s champion, defending it in prominent positions on the card even overseas. Moolah’s reign was exaggerated, saying it never got beaten.

I know, not what we’d normally expect from the normally, cough, totally honest, cough wrestling industry.

However she was super dominant with multiple elongated reigns. Holding the belt from 1956 – 1984 losing on four occasions for only a matter of days before each time winning it back.

Regardless of the way it happened or your objective opinion on her character, this is a record that will never be broken.

Must have something to do with the monetary reference in the name – because Moolah really was the Money Mayweather of what is know as the TV era of wrestling.

Her time at the top, as with all athletes had a finite lifespan. As her glory years in the ring drew towards it’s collusion, Moolah seemingly struggled with the idea that someone younger would eventually take her place. This where the shine really started to come off of what would have been reflected upon as the greatest female wrestler’s career of all time.

As a bonafide singles wrestler, Moolah took a disliking to tag team matches and their proponents.

Never wanting to miss an opportunity to tarnish the reputation of others, she tricked then women’s tag team champions ‘The Jumping Bomb Angels’ a Japanese team who's athleticism and force was to be reckoned with.

She lied over the phone whilst they were on tour in Japan with a match scheduled against the American based ‘Glamour Girls’, who coincidentally where trainees of Moolah. And mixed up what was supposed to be the finish for the match.

With neither teams able to contact the directorial team back in the U.S they went along with Moolah’s plans. Which turned out to be false.

Oh Moolah you scamp …

Nobody at WWF believed that Moolah had told them to do it. The Mania match was cancelled, the Women’s Tag Titles were abandoned, and the Jumping Bomb Angels never wrestled in WWF again.

Progressive women’s wrestling.

Oh Moolah you cheeky watsit …

As part of the Rock ’n’ Wrestling era which kicked off Wrestlemania with the support of musician Cindi Lauper – a young and talented Wendy Richter rose to prominence and dominated the women’s division of her time. Until, her WWF contact elapsed with Wendy still the current women’s champion.

At Maddison Square Garden, during Wendy’s last planned fight of her WWF career she was to face an unknown masked adversary, who’d fulfil the role of ‘jobber’ that night. Giving Wendy the easy win and the send off from the company she deserved.

Moments into the match after the masked assailant rolled her up into a botched schoolboy pin, Wendy easily kicked out at the count of one. But the ref called the bell and the match was up. The masked wrestler proclaimed as the new women’s champion as a furious Richter lunged across the ring and lifted the cover of her opponent.

Revealing – you guessed it, Moolah. She had been instructed to ‘shoot’ on the champion and claim her title before she could leave the company by the business’s hierarchy – truly the original screw-job.

Oh Moolah you frisky little biscuit


You think that someone this successful and innovative would have a lot of knowledge to pass on. For future generations to benefit from the techniques and skills acquired over a 40-year spanning career.

This is when Moolah really started to live up to her name. Taking the money she’d earned and as the shrewd businesswoman she was, bought a 40 acre ranch. Somewhere with space to accommodate numerous trainees, allowing them to hone their skills in her specially built wrestling training school. Under the eye of one of the so-called greatest of all time.

An eye was about as much as The Fabulous one supposedly moved when training these promising young grapplers.

Reports came out that after Moolah had charged the rag-tag group of prospects rent, food and travel expenses on top of a huge training fee and never stepped foot into the ring or lifted a finger, rather preferring to make the more experienced trainees show basic moves to the newbies.

All of which they were never paid for and still charged for everything I previously mentioned.

On top of this Moolah would receive her young wrestler’s pay and ration it out to them after taking her 25-75% cut.

Effectively keeping them poor and in-debt to her and thus reliant on her for more work and more susceptible to fulfil Moolah’s disgusting demands.

Early female wrestlers like Mildred Burke might have been sexualized by promoters, but their wrestling was as physical and athletic as the men’s. Moolah championed a style that was less about athleticism and more about hair-pulling and other “catfight” manoeuvres.

Oh Moolah you incredible innovator …

The Brutal History of Fabulous Moolah, Penny Banner - “The reason women’s pro-wrestling in North America was and still in part today considered a joke and just an opportunity to ogle at tits and ass is largely in part thanks to the way Moolah trained her girls and how Moolah wrestled. Those that argue that women’s wrestling was always like that and Moolah did nothing to change it are ignorant. In the ‘30's and 40's, female wrestling employed shooters and they wrestled in the traditional sense of the term. Tits and asses were used to advertise and get them in the building, but the girls worked longer and more technically sound matches than today. The reason Japanese women’s wrestling was light years ahead of North American’s is because of one persona and one person only – Moolah. Mildred Burke who popularized female wrestling in the world in the ‘30s, Japan, Canada, Mexico and America can trace women’s wrestling directly to her. She used a hard-hitting style and outside of being an attractive woman, her matches were no different from men’s matches of her day”

Oh Moolah you naughty scamp …


The Brutal History of Fabulous Moolah - “Let’s get this out the way first so I don’t have to dance around the subject – Moolah was a pimp. Moolah would send out her half-trained underage female wrestlers to ‘photo-shoots’ that would by the standards of today be considered paedophilia and pornography, renting them out to promoters in bulk, with the understanding that the girls would have sex with the promoter and all the wrestlers on the roster who wanted them. Promoters liked free sex, but what they also liked is for boys not to go outside looking for it and possibly running into trouble. Sex on the road with a steady and pliant group of semi-attractive women in return for money, that is what Moolah offered. The women that were sent out on these tours were not told of this ‘arrangement’ ahead of time. They found out about it on the road. Those that refused to have sex with promoters and wrestlers, were raped”


Mad Maxine, SLAM Sports - “Moolah did send girls out to this guy in Arizona and pimped them out. I actually spoke to him on the phone and asked him what he was looking for. He said. ‘If I’m spending all this money, you know what I want.’ That was part of Moolah’s way of making money. She was just a bad person. Moolah didn’t have a good bone in her body.”

So she was a sex trafficker who sold sexual favours in turn receiving better treatment from promoters for herself, guaranteeing she maintained her streak on top in the ring and once she’d hung up her boots, made a considerable fortune from the exploitation of these young and often underage women.

Oh Moolah, you little bugger …

This next section is completely fucked, so you’ve been warned. When researching this subject, the thing that upset me the most, was the harrowing story of Sweet Georgia Brown as told by her surviving children, several of whom considered themselves the product of rape during Georgia’s run as a pro wrestler under Moolah’s supervision.

Barbara, one of Georgia’s children explains a time when during a brief spell that she was allowed to spend with her mother as a child was cut short when Moolah and her then husband and promoter Buddy Lee dragged her away kicking and punching her before Georgia final relented, half-conscious, pulled from her dress and raped.


Sandy Parker, Addicted to Wrestling “Everybody knew that if you weren’t on Lillian’s good side, you got crappy bookings. I wasn’t on her good side because I wouldn’t do what she wanted me to do. That was one of the reasons I never worked Madison Square Garden because every time the bookings came up I’d be on her bad side.

Moolah used her power to keep the cycle of violence, drug abuse and sex-trafficking alive. As Sandy Parker mentioned, you couldn’t move as a young female wrestler whilst Moolah was around, without either submitting to her brutal regime, or getting out of her way, working in a lesser company elsewhere, even then you weren’t totally safe.

The Fabulous one’s reach as far spanning and backed by the WWF herself. As a promoter, if you wanted to book a women’s wrestler at this time, you’d go through Moolah, you paid Moolah, you filled her with further power.

Oh Moolah you wiley fox …

The companies she worked for made a lot of money from her eventually and seemingly turned a blind eye to all of these practises, many claiming in interviews since her death that they just weren’t aware of the situation with Moolah and her past.

She reinvented herself in the 90’s as a sweet southern grandma and got RKO’d to fuck by Randy Orton and that was sweet. Yeah so what she was about 100, nice to see old ladies getting RKO’d sometimes.


March 2018 – Twitter explodes with the announcement of the Fabulous Moolah Women’s battle royal, set to take place at that years Wrestlemania. The industry yet again refusing to acknowledged the horrors of her past and willing to ignore it in order to make more money and promote their positivity towards the women’s evolution’ of wrestling.


Oh Moolah, you rascal …

Snickers, a long term sponsor and key financial benefactor of WWE pushed forward the agenda & the promotion was forced to drop the match’s moniker.

She was the first woman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and kept appearing on WWE TV all the way up until her death in 2007. Leaving behind one of the most contradictory and contrasting legacies of any wrestler, no entertainer the world has ever seen.

Mad Maxine, Has quite the story to tell – “She was an evil person I understand why. She came from nothing. Her mother died when she was eight and she was never going to be poor again.”

Oh Moolah, you conniving, devious, manipulator, Oh Moolah, you sneaky, selfish scum, you horrible, evil, cold and loveless woman. Oh Moolah you sick, twisted, jealous and unworthy monster.

You revolutionised wrestling in the wrong direction, making the lives of those around you worse, you sold young women like products to make profit, you peddled drugs and used force and trickery to get your way. making the companies you worked for worse and ultimately held back the entirety of the wrestling industry in North America for half a century.



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