70-plus female wrestler Moolah bounces back
By JIM McLAURIN Staff Writer
Lillian Ellison, a.k.a., The Fabulous Moolah, was happy that her new trading card was out, but not all that surprised.
"Oh, no," she said from her home in Northeast Columbia Monday. "Honey, I've been wrestling for 46 years. I've been on a few of them."
Ellison, who has been based in Columbia for her entire professional wrestling career, is part of a new set of Fleer trading cards called "Wrestlemania Superstars."
In her case, it should be "Wrestlemania Miracles."
At 70-something ("about 70" is as close as she would offer), Ellison is eager to get back in the ring and grapple some more. Unfortunately, she's taking time off to recuperate from, first, heart surgery, then back surgery. Oh, yes. And viral pneumonia.
"I went in the hospital for an overnight checkup last October, and the next day they told me, 'We found out what's wrong with your heart, but we can't do your surgery because you've got pneumonia,' " she said.
"I went in for one night and stayed 24 days, 17 in intensive care. And I died twice during that time."
Then, she said, when she was at home regaining her strength for the heart surgery scheduled for December, she blacked out and hit her back on a table, rupturing a vertebra. After the heart surgery, she waited until February to get her back fixed.
The day after the non-invasive back surgery, she said she drove herself home from Charlotte. She's been champing at the bit ever since, ready to get back into the ring and regain the World Wrestling Federation women's title she captured in 1999 by beating Ivory. Ivory later got the title back, but recently lost it to Chyna.
"I don't want to retire. When you retire, you die," Ellison said. "And I'm not going to die again ... I died twice in the 24 days I was in there, but I'm back, because I'm going to kick some more butt."