Famed for her bodybuilding tournament triumphs, memorable fitness and modeling covers, acting roles, and appearances in WWE, Impact Wrestling, and more, Melissa Coates – longtime manager and girlfriend of Sabu – was that rare athlete great enough to make a name for herself in multiple fields.
Sadly, she passed away on June 23rd, 2021, after her biggest fight yet.
My Friend, Melissa Coates
Melissa Coates was like a parade. Muscles rippling, long, lush, blonde flowing locks down to the bottom of her back, the 1996 IFBB Jan Tana Classic Bodybuilding Champion and former Ohio Valley Wrestling trainee doesn’t look like just any woman walking down the street.
And I was proud to call her a friend.
So on that night, on April 2nd, 2010, when at the age of 50, I finally made a leap into marriage, I had to have Melissa there.
While my wedding was at City Hall, the after-party was at Gizzi’s, a New York City bar-restaurant where I booked talent of every genre.
Located at 16 W 8th in the ever-so-Bohemian legendary West Village, Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, the Beatniks, et al., all created masterpieces, and a few doors down was Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland Studio where Jimi and other musical legends created immortal art.
And my artist friends, wrestlers, adult education students of every race, creed, color, and nation had all collided to make a joyful noise and create some art themselves.
So there we were. New York City Swing was jamming. Ned Massey, John Hammond, Sr’s final discovery was captivating us with his brilliant songwriting.
Theresa Sareo, with her big booming voice, had us in the palm of her hand. One great talent after another, all "deserving of wider exposure," as they say, graced the stage.
We were one nation under a groove.
"It was the best wedding I’ve EVER been to," more than one person told me.
And then- suddenly- Melissa Coates hit the joint.
While the music didn’t stop, it felt like a Felliniesque moment. It was as if the attention momentarily left the stage, and in what felt like slow motion, all heads turned towards the door as Melissa strutted in.
A bundle of nervous energy, charisma, and raw power, her Rapunzel-like locks trailed behind her, and folk stared in awe and amazement.
The woman knew how to command a room.
She hugged me, and I felt her strength immediately. Explaining in her mile a minute patter some elaborate tale of woe as to why she was late, that saga’s been lost to time.
All that’s remembered now is that amazing entrance.
Shoot ahead a decade, and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that Melissa recently had a horrific medical emergency with blood clots in her legs, threatening her very life. It resulted in the amputation of her left leg.
Sabu on the Passing of his Long-time Girlfriend, Melissa Coates
Opening up in a September 2021 interview on The Monte and The Pharaoh Pro Wrestling Broadcast, Sabu talked about the tragic loss of his dear girlfriend, Melissa Coates.
"She was a great person. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I’d be today. She saved my life a few times. And I couldn’t save hers. I tried."
Sabu, who has some difficulty speaking after years of abuse and concussions sustained in and out of the ring, emphasized that Melissa "was a great person. She was great."
He continued, "I met her about fifteen, twenty years ago in L.A., in passing. I then met her again in 2007 in WWE. I met her again six years ago when these guys were bullying her on the internet, talking s*** about her and saying she had made love to me twenty years ago, but we didn’t.
"We got stuck in the same hotel room, but I was the perfect gentleman, and she even said I was. I let her sleep on the bed. I slept in the chair.
"The guy who put us in the room together tried to say that we had sex together and tried to stir some s***. And so, they were bullying her twenty years later about this. So, I got there and said, ‘Hey guys, this ain’t true. It’s bulls***. Leave her alone.’ And they did, and we became friends. Soon later, we started dating."
Melissa’s Battle Outside of the Ring
A photo of Melissa Coates in her wheelchair post-surgery hit me hard. But I know this athlete’s heart. I know the discipline that went into becoming a champion bodybuilder. To climb the ranks in pro wrestling. To be better than all the rest and be the one asked to be on magazine covers seen around the world. That was my friend, Melissa.
The following details came from the GoFundMe fundraiser created to help her during her difficult time:
“The Super Genie” Melissa Coates is a trailblazer in the world of professional bodybuilding and pro-wrestling.
Throughout the ’90s, she competed in the International Federation of Bodybuilding, placing highly in their Ms. Olympia and Ms. International events.
Due to her success, she was ranked 9th in the world in women’s bodybuilding. Melissa was featured extensively in fitness magazines, including Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Muscle Mag, Muscular Development, and Iron Man.
After retiring from bodybuilding, Melissa Coates trained with Hall of Fame pro wrestler Killer Kowalski. She would later compete in the WWE and throughout the independents. Melissa currently performs as “The Super Genie” and manages legendary pro wrestler Sabu. They perform for various pro wrestling companies across the globe.
On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Melissa was admitted to University Medical Center Las Vegas to assess the recent onset of excruciating pain in her left leg. The doctors discovered that blood clots completely obstructed the arteries supplying blood to her left lower leg.
Over the next few days, several procedures were performed to remove the clots and thus save her leg, but these operations were unsuccessful.
Ultimately Melissa and her doctors had to make the agonizing choice to perform a life-saving above-knee amputation of her left leg.
As a result of this medical emergency, she has incurred substantial medical bills and will be out of work for an indefinite amount of time as she rehabs her injury. She is currently still in hospital and in great pain, but she remains positive.
On June 23rd, 2021, I was incredibly saddened to learn that my dear friend Melissa suddenly passed away. She was only 50-years-old. No cause of death is currently known. Although her fight may now be over, her memories will forever live on.
Watch WWE’s Bayley in Her First-Ever Match – Melissa Coates and Shannon Ballard vs. Shane Ballard and Bayley:
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