Sometimes it’s a case of “You still got it,” or, sadly, “He hung around way too long.” The following are among the thirteen oldest wrestlers to survive a match. Each wrestled into their elderly years, proving age is just a number!
13. Lou Thesz
Lou Thesz is one of wrestling’s most legendary stars and is regarded by some as the first real wrestling superstar. He was renowned worldwide for his pure wrestling ability, conditioning, and toughness. Two hundred forty-three days into being 74, just a few months older than Adrian Street, he competed in his last-ever match.
The bout took place against his protege, Masahiro Chono, on December 26th, 1990, in Hamamatsu, Japan, and made Thesz (along with Jimmy Valiant) one of the only wrestlers ever to wrestle in seven different decades. Thesz lost the match via submission, but he will always be remembered as a wrestling pioneer and all-time technician.
12. Adrian Street
Adrian Street was a Welsh professional wrestler who retired in 2014 at 74 years old. Street was known for his flamboyant personality, sequined ring gear, and mysterious aura Goldust credits for inspiring his gimmick.
Street estimates that he wrestled between 12 and 15 thousand matches throughout his 60-year career. His final match occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in a winning effort against Aeon Flexx.
Until his passing at 82 on July 24th, 2023, Street was kicking and as defiant as ever. He defeated throat cancer in 2001 and told the doctor he beat the dreaded disease because there were “still people in the world I hadn’t pissed off yet!”
11. Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon got in the ring at WrestleMania 38 in 2022 at 76 against Pat McAfee.
No, he didn’t look graceful when taking a comically over-the-top stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin later in the show. But, hey, most CEOs are out on the golf course; the man was 76 and had the guts to get in there.
Controversies aside, a showman he’ll always be.
10. Dory Funk
Dory Funk Jr. took his wrestling career to another level when he competed at 76, making him the oldest Funk to ever wrestle a match.
Admirably, brother Terry’s last match was at the age of 73.
Dory was the second longest reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion and didn’t retire until 2018.
He gained notoriety wrestling for almost every major promotion during his seven-decade career.
In his last ever match, Funk faced off against Osamu Nishimura in a 10-minute time limit draw in Tokyo.
Funk continued a career in the industry as a trainer at his school.
“In order to make a living in this business,” Dory shared in a recent interview with Villages News, “you have to devote yourself to wrestling. It’s very competitive, and it takes everything you’ve got to make it to the top.”
It’s safe to say that Funk gave everything to the business his legendary father weaned him into.
9. Gypsy Joe
Gypsy Joe was a Puerto Rican professional wrestler who most notably gained success in the United States and Japan. He is considered a trailblazer in hardcore wrestling, and his toughness and brawling in-ring style kept him in the ring for six decades.
In 2011, Joe wrestled his final match at the “Gypsy Joe Retirement Show” in Tullahoma, Tennessee, at 77 years, 36 days old. The bout marked his 60th year in the wrestling industry as he took a loss to Tajiri.
Joe is still remembered today as one of the toughest in-ring performers of all time.
8. Mil Máscaras
Legendary luchador Mil Máscaras, known for his gorgeous masks and equally beautiful wrestling moves, was still active well into his 70s.
Born on July 15, 1942, the international superstar can boast that as late as September 13th, 2019, he still competed in major matches as Capitan Atomo, Dragon Lee, and Máscaras defeated La Bestia Del Ring, Rey Bucanero, and Valiente in an LLA event at the Arena Coliseo in Acapulco, Mexico.
Noted wrestling journalist Javier Ojst states, “At 78 years old in July of 2020, Mil had still not officially retired.” Amazing.
7. Jimmy Valiant
As one half of the Fabulous Valiant Brothers and later as “The Boogie Woogie Man,” few grapplers have the charisma of Jimmy Valiant. And even fewer have wrestled at his age.
6. Dave Kidney
Dave Kidney is a British professional wrestler featured in various documentaries, including one by BBC, which followed his journey to his final match at 79.
In the BBC documentary, Kidney shared, “I can’t tell you the feeling of hearing 2,000 people shouting your name when I lifted the [featherweight] title 50 years ago. I was very proud, and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
He later added, “Now I don’t do this for the money. There’s no money in it anymore.”
Kidney’s last known match occurred in Carnoustie, Scotland, in January 2011, at 79.
He is remembered for his passion for wrestling, his never say die attitude, and the toughness that allowed him to continue wrestling well into his late 70s.
5. Fabulous Moolah
The Fabulous Moolah is one of the pioneers of women’s wrestling.
She began her career alongside legendary Hall of Famer Buddy Rogers before she captured the NWA World Women’s Championship in 1956. She shockingly and unbelievably held the title for 28 years.
Her last match came on a 2004 SmackDown taping at the age of 80 years, 55 days, where she teamed with Mae Young to defeat Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson.
Although her legacy is a bit complicated, her 28-year title reign will never be replicated.
4. Dominic DeNucci
Dominic DeNucci was an Italian pro wrestler who held over a dozen championships in various promotions worldwide in the 1960s and ’70s.
He also helped train wrestling legends like Mick Foley and Shane Douglas.
DeNucci’s final match took place in 2012, aged 80 years, 82 days, when he teamed with his student, Shane Douglas, to take on the team of Lord Zoltan and Shawn Blanchard.
DeNucci would emerge victorious and retire afterward.
3. Bob Armstrong
The tremendously fit Bullet Bob Armstrong’s fifty-year career featured dozens of championship title wins all over the United States.
Among his many honors, Armstrong held the NWA Continental Championship title.
Armstrong wrestled his last match on May 11th, 2019, aged 80 and a half, for Continental in Dothan, Alabama, where he defeated The Assassin.
Armstrong, unfortunately, passed away just one year after his final match due to cancer. All four of his sons (“Road Dogg” Brian James, Scott Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, and the late Brad Armstrong) worked in the wrestling business, making them one of wrestling’s royal families.
2. The Great Kojika
The Great Kojika is the oldest currently active professional wrestler, having debuted in 1963.
He co-founded Big Japan Pro Wrestling and has wrestled for DDT Pro, NWA, and AJPW.
Kojika has wrestled as recently as August of 2022, where he won a tag team bout for NPW at the youthful age of 80.
1. Mae Young
Although Mae Young’s frenetic handicap match on Monday Night RAW barely resembled anything close to a competitive match, the feat is still awe-inspiring as she must’ve prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally for a match at nearly 88 years old (87 years, 248 days to be exact).
Sadly, she would pass away just three years later.
There is arguably no tougher woman than Mae Young, with numerous reports of her beating up her male counterparts.
Young was featured on RAW in a segment with CM Punk the year she died after he interrupted her 90th birthday celebration.
Professional wrestling is one of the most physical and dangerous sports and forms of entertainment one can engage in. Kudos to these greats for their passion, toughness, and unbelievable longevity.
These stories may also interest you:
- Old School Wrestling: 10 Things Sorely Missed!
- Jimmy Valiant – The Story of the Handsome Boogie Woogie Man
- Mil Máscaras – "No Yob!" Prima Donna or Misunderstood Superhero?
- NWA World Champions in WWE: How It Fared For 13 Former Champs
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