On This Day, June 21, 2015, professional wrestling icon Cora Combs passed away. In honor of the anniversary of Combs’ passing, it’s time to highlight the wrestling career of this women’s wrestling country music legend.
The day is March 17, 1927 – the day that Beulah Mae Combs was born in Hazard, Kentucky. Hazard, Kentucky? That’s such an incredible name for a town! Combs would grow up in rural Kentucky, eventually becoming a country music singer. However, the path of country music stardom didn’t interest Combs the way sports entertainment would.
In 1949, Combs would attend a wrestling event headlined by WWE Hall of Famer Mildred Burke. At this show, wrestling promoter Nick Gulas would introduce Combs to wrestling legend Billy Wolfe. Wolfe would take interest in Combs, and offered to smarten her up to the professional wrestling industry. Combs would take Wolfe up on his offer, and we were off to the races.
The Making of Cora Combs
On December 20, 1950, Beulah would make her in-ring debut under the moniker “Cora Combs”. In this match, Combs would team alongside Lilly Bitters to defeat Ann Stanley and Beverly Lehmer in a two-out-of-three falls tag team match. Throughout her time in the industry, Combs would become a four-time NWA United States Women’s Champion and a two-time NWA Southern Women’s Champion.
On April 18, 1958, Cora Combs would give birth to her daughter – Deborah Szostecki. Deborah would inevitably take an interest in professional wrestling – just as her mother did – and would make her wrestling debut in 1975. This would lead to a series of matches between Cora and Deborah (competing as Debbie Combs), but many of those have been lost to time. In Cora Combs’ final match, Cora would fall to her daughter in her defense of the NWA World Women’s Championship on February 19, 1995.
In 2007, Cora Combs would be inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall Of Fame alongside the incredible cast of Karl Gotch, John Tolos, Chris Tolos, Roddy Piper, Ted DiBiase, and Pat O’Connor (among other names).
A Peaceful Passing
Sadly, on June 21, 2015, Beulah “Cora” Combs would pass away in her home in Nashville, Tennessee. Combs had been suffering from pneumonia in the week preceding her death, but an official cause of death has never been reported. Cora passed away at the age of 88 years old and somehow wrestled for more than 40 of those years. She was survived by her daughter, Deborah, who retired from professional wrestling in 1998.
Three years after her passing, Cora Combs would be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame’s Legacy Wing. Without a shadow of a doubt, Cora Combs is one of the most incredible trailblazers in women’s wrestling. Could you imagine how Cora Combs would have faired in today’s wrestling landscape? While we may not know how that would go down, there is one thing we do know – and that is what happened On This Day.
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