Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Fabulous Moolah

Illustration for article titled The Fabulous Moolah

This is fun. Pat Jordan's 1974 SI piece on the Fabulous Moolah: "Lady with a Lock on Life":

Ma Bass, eyes bulging, hands clasped at her chin, kneels on the canvas pleading for mercy. The Fabulous Moolah, in gold lame tights, stands over her, holding Ma's hair in her grip and cocking a fist. In a shadowy corner of the ring Moolah's partner in this six-wrestler, mixed tag team match, Dynamite Dick Dunn, is strangling one of Ma Bass' 260-pound sons, Ronnie. In another shadowy corner Moolah's second partner, Tony (The Medic) Gonzales, is standing on the ring ropes ready to leap onto the stomach of Ma Bass' other son, Donnie, who lies stunned on the canvas.

Moolah turns her face toward the fans at ringside in Pensacola's Municipal Auditorium and, in elaborate pantomime, seeks approval to deliver the blow to Ma's jaw. The fans rise, fists punching the air, faces contorted by anger and glee, throats straining and hoarse. "Kill her, Moolah! Bash the old buzzard! Please!" Moolah nods, and her cocked fist shoots toward Ma. A split second before contact, Moolah stamps her foot loudly on the canvas and, simultaneously, Ma Bass" head snaps back and she tumbles through the ropes into the lap of a sportswriter. The fans roar and The Fabulous Moolah, wrestling champion of the world, beats her breast with both fists. The Medic leaps from the ropes. Momentarily, he is suspended in a horizontal position before landing. Donnie Bass, his target, has just enough strength to roll to one side, and The Medic lands on his stomach—whoomp—on the canvas.

Donnie Bass struggles to his feet. Ma Bass is climbing back through the ropes. Moolah races toward the opposite end of the ring, hits the ropes, which stretch like a gigantic slingshot and then snap forward, catapulting her toward the dazed and unsuspecting Ma Bass. Before the impact can occur, however, Donnie, still groggy, accidentally staggers in front of his mother, and Moolah hits his bulk with a Thwak and a Whoosh of exhaled breath. Moolah stiffens, hands at her sides. Then slowly she begins falling backward on her heels like an axed tree. She hits the canvas, bounces once, twice, and then her arms and legs spread wide. She is still. Ma Bass falls on top of her. While the referee slaps the canvas once, twice, three times, the 2,500 fans plead for Moolah to get up. But she doesn't, and the match is over.

While Moolah lies, unmoving, on the canvas, Don Griffin, the ring announcer, climbs through the ropes with his handheld microphone and announces the results of the just-completed match. His words are greeted with boos. Ma Bass and her sons climb out of the ring and are escorted by two policemen through rows of fans shaking their fists and shouting obscenities. Someone hurls a box of popcorn at the departing Bass family, then some ice cubes and rolled up programs, and now debris of all sorts is falling on Ma and her sons as they hurry toward the dressing room.

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