Name: Joyce Grable
Year Inducted: 2013

 

Joyce Grable

A native of LaGrange, Georgia, Joyce Grable got her start in the wrestling business in 1971 by learning from the late Lillian Ellison, “The Fabulous Moolah”.

“I went to Atlanta with another girl to the wrestling,” Grable said. “She wanted to talk to Moolah about training after the match. Moolah said, ‘What about the blond next to you? I will train you if you bring her too.’ I went and made it and the other girl didn’t.”

Like Moolah, Grable, whose real name is Betty Wade-Murphy, was tough enough not to be intimidated by the fact that pro wrestling was a male-dominated sport at the time. In fact, she had no problem stepping in the ring with the boys and showing them who’s boss, which Jacques Rougeau Jr. can personally attest to. Grable was involved in a 1980 tag team match at Atlanta’s Omni, with Rougeau—working as Jerry Roberts—on the opposite side. Rougeau apparently didn’t think girls belonged in the business and tried to roughhouse with Grable, until she eventually got fed up and knocked the wind out of his sails.

A 1999 LadySports magazine profile on “The Golden Goddess of the Mat” described her style: “She perfected a flying body block off the turnbuckle that usually set up a pinfall, a great flying head scissors, and a deadly victory roll. Her dropkicks were known for putting the other wrestler down for the traditional boxing ten-count rather than just the three-count needed in wrestling. She could also make her rivals scream uncle with holds such as the figure-four leglock and the Boston crab.”

Throughout her career, Grable captured the NWA Women’s Tag Team Championships on four occasions (twice with Vicki Williams and twice with Wendi Richter). She also held the NWA Women’s U.S. Title once. Grable has not only had success inside the ring, but outside as well, as she later excelled as a manager and also helped train future women’s wrestlers such as former WWE Women’s tag team champion Judy Martin and former WWE Women’s champion Richter.

Her last match was in 1991, after putting in 13 years full-time and seven on a part-time basis near her Georgia home. Back surgery followed her retirement. Other injuries she sustained over the years included a broken collarbone, a dislocated right shoulder, a cracked vertebra in the neck, and a pinched nerve caused by a slipped disc. She had one son (wrestling until she was three months pregnant!), and helped raise two daughters from her second husband’s marriage. She currently works as a receptionist several days a week at a facility for the mentally and physically handicapped.

Moolah’s Ladies International Wrestling Association ran a profile on Grable in 1998 and it neatly sums up her career: “The beautiful blond was always in demand by the promoters. When Joyce Grable was booked on a wrestling card ... there was always plenty of action.”

 

- Blaine van der Griend

 



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