As Betty Murphy gets ready to celebrate her May induction into the World Champion Wrestling Hall of Fame, she is also preparing herself to win a life-threatening battle with leukemia.
Murphy, professionally known as Joyce Grable, had held world titles with two of her partners, four different times during her wrestling career.
“Some of the girls I could have beat in 30 seconds or less but, if I did that people wouldn’t want to come back and see women wrestling,” Murphy said. “People paid their money and they wanted to be entertained.”
Murphy grew up on Hill Street in LaGrange and now, divorced over 10 years, she is living here in LaGrange again. Her son, Derek, lives in Franklin.
Murphy was a powerful wrestler back in the ’70s and ‘80’s and traveled throughout the world during her professional career.
In El’ Salvador, she had to endure gun shots at night and dead bodies in the morning but had to stay there for four weeks to finish her scheduled matches.
“I wanted my passport and to get out of there but my ‘booker’ (the person who schedules the matches) had it and wouldn’t let me leave,” Murphy said. “We would wrestle only four days a week so I did have the best tan of my life, then.”
“When you wrestle in another country, they try to see how much you can take. You have to show them that you can take it but. that you can also dish it out,” Murphy said. “I wrestled in New Zealand, Australia, El Salvador and even in Japan, many times. In Japan, they use the ropes so that are flying, they use chairs, nothing is off limits.”
Murphy won the world title two times with her partner, Vicki Williams, once in 1973 and then again in 1976. She also won the world title two other times with her partner, Wendi Richter.
“I trained Wendi and then we became partners. What I couldn’t do she could do and what she couldn’t do I could do, we complimented each other very well,” Murphy said. “We were called The Dallas Cowgirls.”
“I just loved it. If I was feeling bad, I didn’t have to go out there and smile, or look happy, I could just go out there and get it done,” Murphy said. “I really liked it when people booed me, it meant that I was doing my job.”
Murphy is part of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2013. On the third weekend in May, in Amsterdam, N.Y., Murphy will be inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame under her professional name, Joyce Grable. Ten other people, all men, will also be inducted that weekend. All inductees receive a Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame ring.
Last year Murphy attended the induction ceremony when her former partner was inducted.
“I’m excited about being inducted this year. Two years ago Judy Grable was inducted and last year Wendy Richter was. I didn’t want to be the Susan Lucci of the wrestling world,” Murphy said.
After the ceremony, Murphy will be returning to Georgia to begin the arduous task of preparing for a bone marrow transplant that hopefully will save her life.
“My sister, Debra Brown, is donating her bone marrow so that I will be able to have this transplant. I have to go into Emory in Atlanta and before I can have my transplant my platelet count has to brought down to zero. I will have chemo intravenously and have to be in a sterile environment for the whole process,” Murphy said. “If it wasn’t for the hall of fame, I don’t think I could get through all of this.”
After Murphy’s platelet count is brought down to zero she will then be ready to receive her sister’s bone marrow, it will be injected into her at three different sites. She then will have to continue to stay in the hospital until her platelet count can again be brought up to an acceptable level. For the next two to three months after that, Murphy must stay within 10 minutes of the hospital in case her body starts to reject the marrow.
“I know that I will lose my hair, they already told me that. After the induction, I am going to get my hair cut real short. I also have to have someone stay with me when I am in the hotel for the 3 months after I get out of the hospital,” Murphy said. “I know I am going to have difficulty in covering all of these expenses, insurance won’t cover a lot.”
Murphy’s church, the Friendship Baptist Church and the Pine View Baptist Church are arranging fundraising events to benefit Murphy. Donald Boyd and Chris Studdard each have a gospel group that will be taking part in Benefit Gospel Singing events.
Two of the events have already been scheduled. On Feb. 23rd, starting at 6 p.m., the Pine View Baptist Church on Whitesville Road in LaGrange, will hold a Benefit Gospel Singing. The Friendship Baptist Church will hold a bake sale in front of Walmart on March 23rd, starting at 9 a.m. All proceeds from both events will go directly to help with Murphy’s medical expenses.
Murphy plans to keep her family and friends up-to-date on her recovery through her Facebook page.
During her wrestling career Murphy has had a number of injuries. She has had her nose broken three times, her collar bone broken, three fingers on her right hand broken and, in 1991, she had to have back surgery. She has been able to get through all of it. Now, with the help of her family, friends and her faith in God, she plans to get through her bone marrow transplant also.
Beating leukemia might very well be the toughest match of Murphy’s life.
Donations to help Murphy defer her medical costs may be given to the Community Bank and Trust (CB&T), located at 201 Broad St., or mailed to them at P.O. Box 1489, LaGrange, GA., 30241. Checks should be made out to “The Betty Murphy Fund.”