World wrestling champion Joyce Grable grew up a bit of a tomboy in Columbus Georgia. She would play all types of sports with her four older brothers. She went to a wrestling match with her friend and she was instantly hooked. Joyce was in luck because world women’s champion was on the card that night. After the matches were over, her friend approached Moolah in regards to trainer her. Moolah replied “I will train you on one condition, if you bring that blond girl over there so I can train her as well.” Joyce added “I was in the right place at the right time and I was very honored that she would consider training me.”
That was a huge opportunity for Joyce; it helped launch her into sports superstardom and immortality. Among some of her career highlights and milestones were winning the NWA United States Women’s Championship, NWA Texas Women’s Championship, she was the only woman to hold the NWA World Tag team Championship four times, she received the Cauliflower Alley Club Women’s Wrestling Award 2010, and she made history when she competed in the first ever tag team match verses two men and two women.
It was thanksgiving night 1980 at Atlanta Georgia’s, Omni Auditorium, Georgia Championship wrestling booked Joyce Grable and Judy Martin to go against Steve O and Jerry Roberts (Jacques Rougeau Jr.) in the first ever battle of the sexes tag team match. The match was well done and executed and although Martin and Grable didn’t win, it proved that the age old argument that, women can stand toe to toe with a man in a wrestling ring. This broke tremendous ground for other wrestlers such as former WWE Women’s and Intercontinental Champion Chyna to show that they can be main event champions. Promoter and Wrestler Greg “Woody” Hullender said “Joyce was always accepted as one of the boys. She was instrumental in the growth of women’s wrestling when she had that mixed tag match in Georgia. She is one of the toughest people I ever met.”
Being a female in a male dominated sport, Joyce had great respect for the male wrestlers such as Harley Race, and Bruno Sammartino who will be inducted into the WWE Hall of fame in April 2013. Women’s Wrestling Superstar Tasha Simone said “Few women truly understand the meaning of “being a woman in a man’s world”. Joyce Grable is definitely a woman that understands those words without question. While Joyce is best known for tag team success, I have fond memories of watching her in action with Leilani Kai. Joyce is one of the pioneers of Women’s Wrestling and a credit to our sport. The most important thing anyone can tell her is simply…. THANK YOU!”
Joyce has traveled throughout the world and had many matches in Japan and in Mexico territories. She also had good bouts and feuds with many of the female wrestlers in the United States of America. Joyce’s career spanned more than two decades, until she retired in 1991 due to a back injury. She traveled in the world of wrestling. “I learned a lot in Mexico, I learned how to move faster and to work on the floor, crawl on your hands and knees for take downs. Japan is different, you work more outside and they utilize foreign objects such as chairs more in their matches. We were always in demand in Japan, on average we would stay there for about two months. It was tough to adjust to sleeping on floors and being the only folks who could speak English. Heck we were there so much I got my appendix taken out in Tokyo” said Joyce.
The fans would really get so into her matches so much that one night there was a riot in Houma, Louisiana. “Some of the best wrestlers I worked with were Sabrina, Diane Von Hoffman, Princess Victoria, Velvet McIntyre, Jackie Sato of Japan, Maria Garcia of Mexico, Vicki Williams, Judy Martin, Leilani Kai, Wendi Richter , Vicki Williams, Wendy Richter, and Donna Christanello.” Joyce later added :“Donna was very Italian and me being from the south I was not use to that type of personality. So at first I had to get to know her but after I did, I found her to be a warm caring person. She would give the shirt off her back if you needed it and she was the type of person who would give you a dollar if you were broke. A great person and I truly loved her. She was the first person to get me drunk, it was funny, and in fact she uses to tease me about it. I remember she liked to drink colt 45’s when we traveled together and in some ways we were like sisters. She would quit and come back from time to time to take care of one of her family members. Donna was a great person; I still would be traveling with her today if she was alive.”
Some of the wrestling greats and current superstars of today made several comments in regards to Joyce as a person and as an athlete.
Women’s Wrestling Legend Susan Tex Green said “Joyce lives for the business and was a pioneer in women’s pro wrestling.”
Wrestling legend and former Killer Bee Brian Blair “Joyce is a real lady and is a very positive individual.”
Women’s Wrestling Legend Wendy Richter said “Joyce and I were tag team partners and I have a lot of respect for her. She is a true champion and an amazing woman.”
WWF Women’s Tag Champion Princess Victoria “she was tough inside the ring and was a southern bell outside the ring. We always respected one another”
Gremlina GLOW “I pray for her to get better, I have a lot of respect for Joyce.”
Wrestling Manager Lady Amazon “I met her a few times she is a talented lady. She is a true wrestling icon. Moondog Fifi, Sherri, Susan Green, Joyce is definitely a legend.”
NWA Champion Sabrina Wrestling’s Wonder Woman said “Joyce has been a great inspiration in my life; she convinced me that after 30 years I can still come back into the wrestling ring. She is my sister and I love her.’
Wrestling legend Diane Von Hoffman said “I met Joyce Grable back in 1980. At first I was very scared as you can understand. Once we actually got to meet and talk, I respected her so much. She was the one that took the new/green girls on the road and I know that had to be hard as she was such a perfectionist and worked hard at everything she did. We made a 2 month tour to El Salvador. We were there the Christmas of ‘82 for 2 months. I had no idea we were in a war. We could hear the troops outside and I was really scared. Joyce kept me sane and I hope I did her as well. We had 2 months of good and bad times. We went to places that had no water, electricity and it sure was a wakeup call. I was just 21 at the time, so Joyce was a big sister to me. After that we lost touch but thank goodness we were able to meet up again. Last year at the GCWR reunion we had reconnected. It was like we had seen each other the week before. I admire Joyce and was so glad I was able to wrestle her in her last match. WHAT AN HONOR!!!”
Joyce’s thoughts on recent pro wrestling are “Not many new wrestlers can carry a match; it’s just a bunch of power moves. When I was wrestling we knew how to grapple and how to entertain without wearing skimpy cloths. I think the only one that truly represents the sport now is Natalya Neidhart and I feel all she needs a shot, a bit of a push.”
Throughout her career she gained the reputation of being a great wrestler, trainer, manager and friend. She has been diagnoses with cancer, and needs help paying off doctors’ bills and staying in a hotel while undergoing treatment. Joyce still makes appearances and recently inducted Wendy Richter at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam New York. Up until she was diagnosed she was still wrestling for MLW. Please help this wonderful human being and wrestling legend during her time of need. A group of wrestlers got together and are going to have a fundraiser to help Joyce with her medical bills.
Deep Southern championship Wrestling and LN Promotions Presents:
Grappling for Grable a fundraiser to help out Hall of Famer Joyce Grable with her medical bills from her Leukemia treatments. April 27, 2013, Fannin County High School 360 Rebel Circle Blue Ridge, GA Doors open at 6:00 PM Bell time is 7:00 PM Prices: Adults $10 and Ages 12 and under $5 For more info 706-889-1803.
Event Roster: Joyce Grable, Charlie Smith, Bobby Simmons, Princess Victoria, Misty & Beau James, Scrappy McGowan, Susan Green, Wrestling’s Wonder Woman Sabrina, Dirty White boy Jimmy Powell, Burger Powell, Ben Masters, Mac McMurray, the Movement, Jessica Wetmore, Randal Brown, Ranger Ross, Miss Rachel , Lt Falk, Sex Kitten Kathy, The Good Ole Boys, Johnny & Tiffany Roxx, Semper Fi Cody Roberts, Bebe Cook, Jack Lord, Ron Sexton, Gina Bellassai, Moondog Fifi, Destiny Queen of Destruction, Cherry Lane, Tasha Simone, Lady Amazon, Hot Shot Mike Reed, Rescue 911 Danny Donahue
Pro wrestling legend Velvet McIntyre best expresses the thoughts that are going through everyone’s head when she said ‘It’s sad that Joyce has to have a bake sale to pay for therapy…….yes, that makes me sad……there should be a medical policy,….there has to be a way to help her…….and think how many don’t have folks even thinking about them….maybe I’m spoiled because I’m Canadian…..I dunno……it’s not free here, we pay for benefits….but I will tell you this, I don’t know one person here that went for treatment and was refused for lack of money…..if that is happening in the States, I’m very sad indeed…..we are not third world…….or are we?”
For those unable to attend the event, but still want to show support you can send checks or money order made out to Joyce Grable and mail to:
P.O. Box 930475
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