|ANN CASEY: MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE
by Bill Kociaba
The bizarre and wonderful world of professional wrestling has always
had a colorful cast of characters. They have come from many diverse
backgrounds and followed many different paths after they left the mat wars. Ann Casey is no exception. In fact she has probably led one of the most interesting and varied lives of any of the ladies to grace the squared circle in the past fifty years.
Ann Casey was born Lucille Casey on September 29, 1938 in Saraland Alabama. She was born at home and delivered by a midwife, one of nine children of John B. Casey and Viola Lillian Smith (Casey). Her father was Irish and her mother full-blooded Creek Indian, a combination has given her quite a temper by her own admission. The family moved to southern Mississippi when John purchased a cotton farm and that is where she grew up, working alongside her brothers and sisters picking cotton and attending the Agricola Indian school. She was the typical "tomboy," riding horses working the farm and playing basketball in high school. After she graduated she was briefly married and had a son.
She went from odd job to odd job until 1960 when she began working in the office of the Mobile wrestling office. She worked for the Fields family, doing secretarial work during the day and sold tickets at the shows at night. It was there that she met the women who would change her life.
One night in 1962, Ann went into the dressing room to pay the lady wrestlers who had appeared on that night’s show and came face-to-face with The Fabulous Moolah. Ann recalls, "She looked me up and down and asked to see my legs. I told her, "I am not in the habit of pulling my dress up to show strange women my legs!" Moolah laughed and asked if I knew who she was. I knew her name but had no idea who she was, to be honest. Moolah told me she trained lady wrestlers and started telling me how much money a tall pretty girl like me could make. It sounded good but I told her I would think about it. And think about it she did!
After seeking advice from friends Ann Laverne and Poncho Villa (who she became close to while working in the office) she went to Moolah's training camp in South Carolina. Being a strong natural athlete, Ann adapted to the ring and Moolah's training in no time. Her first professional bout was a tag team match with Judy Grable as her partner against Rita Cortez and Brenda Scott in Spartanburg, SC during the fall of 1962. It was the beginning of a nearly 30 year love affair between Ann Casey and the fans.
Ann said, "I remember being in the dressing room with the other girls. It was Brenda's first night as well. Judy and Rita had a little experience. Brenda was sweating -- almost shaking she was so nervous. I told her we should just go out there and have fun. When it was time I just ran out in my leopard swimsuit and heard the fans cheering and clapping and I knew this was what I wanted to do."
"I traveled all over the country with Moolah and went as far as Hawaii,” said Ann. “I have a letter from a fan who told me I made history. I was the first women wrestler to ever step into a ring in a ladies tag match on the big island.”
“While in Hawaii I met a boy and fell in love. When it was time to leave, I told Moolah that I was not going with her and she was pretty upset with me. I had had enough of her controlling what I did and taking such a big percentage of