Professional wrestlers tend to have very short careers in terms of their time actually competing in matches. After all, it takes a long time to even train yourself to the point that you're ready to work a match, even in front of just a few dozen people in a high school gymnasium. It takes years of wrestling around the country or even the world, before you'll find a full time job in WWE, TNA or another major promotion. It's a lot of work and the grind will cause many wrestlers' careers to end early, be it due to injury, age or wrestlers just getting burned out from the industry.
There are the wrestlers who will have their full-time run, then come back for the occasional marquee match. The Rock's full-time wrestling career really only lasted about seven years and even then, his last couple of years involved taking breaks to film movies. He was out of the business by age 30, but his stock has risen even higher since, allowing him to come back for the occasional appearance or match in his 40s.
Hulk Hogan wrestled well into his 50s part-time, as his 2002-03 run in WWE came in his late 40s. If it were up to him, he'd be gearing up for a WrestleMania match at the age of 62. Ric Flair would probably get back in the ring too if WWE were to let him.
While most would never dream of wrestling a match into their golden years, some wrestlers did it when given the chance. Either they just felt they could or their love of the business was just too great to pass up an opportunity to compete.
Here we are listing the 15 oldest wrestlers to ever compete in a match. They'll be ranked by their age when they competed in said match.
15 Johnny Saint - 70 years, 48 days
Fans here in North America aren't quite familiar with Johnny Saint, but Saint is a legend across the pond in the U.K., if nothing else, for his longevity in the business. Saint made his wrestling debut back in 1958 and last competed in 2011, giving him a 53-year career. Saint was a former British Lightweight Champion, World Lightweight Champion and European Lightweight Champion. Saint was known as The Man of a Thousand Holds out in England, and apparently strikes too, as he was also an amateur boxer.
14 Terry Funk - 70 years, 164 days
You thought Brett Favre announced retirement too many times? Terry Funk has had seemingly dozens of retirement matches that have never stuck. Funk's career started in 1965 back in Dory Funk Sr.'s NWA, where he would team with Dory Jr. and the duo reached success as both singles and tag team competitors. Funk has wrestled all over the world in the most barbaric of matches, yet has managed to hang in there. This past December, Funk competed in a six man tag match for Tokyo Gurentai. One of his partners was the next entry on our list.
13 Mil Máscaras - 72 years, 149 days
Mil Mascaras was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame back in 2012, due to his amazing career as a lucha libre in Mexico. His match in WWE was limited to an appearance at in the 1997 Royal Rumble match at the Alamo Dome. Mascaras also appeared in many Mexican films. Mascaras's last match also came with Tokyo Gurentai, where he and Terry Funk teamed up with Masakatsu Funaki to defeat Kaz Hayashi, Nosawa Rongai and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.
12 Jimmy Snuka - 72 years, 158 days
Due to Jimmy Snuka being charged for the murder of his late girlfriend Nancy Argentino, we've likely seen his last match. Snuka is also currently battling stomach cancer. Snuka last wrestled for the WWE at WrestleMania XXV in a handicap match alongside the late Roddy Piper and Ricky Steamboat against Chris Jericho. His latest match came in 2014, as he teamed up with The Patriot to defeat Brodie Williams and Mr. TA at a Big Time Wrestling Event. His name is currently removed from WWE's Hall of Fame page.
11 Warren Bockwinkel - 72 years old
Many might be more familiar with Warren Bockwinkel's son Nick, as Nick was a mainstay at AWA and did battle with the likes of Hulk Hogan. However, Warren goes back to early 20th century. He even trained wrestling's first true superstar, Lou Thesz. It is unverified as to when the exact date of Bockwinkel's last match was, but he was said to have wrestled until the age of 72, which would leave his match at some point in 1983.
10 The Sheik - 72 years old
We are much more familiar with The Iron Sheik, but the original Sheik was an innovator in the industry, introducing new forms of violence. It probably comes to little surprise that he was the uncle of Sabu. The Sheik's would often use hidden pencils to jab at his opponents' foreheads, but the move would backfire on him, leaving him to take jabs with pencils, leading to many scars on his forehead. The Sheik wrestled all over the world as one of the most hated villains ever. His last match came in 1998 at the age of 72 in Japan.
9 Great Kojika - 73 years, 127 days
Great Kojka is still active in the wrestling industry, but has mostly done work as a promoter and a booker in his latter years. Kojika still, had a very long career as an active wrestler and he's the one on this list with the most recent match. He wrestled at the beginning of September at over 73 years old. He now acts as the chairman of Big Japan Pro Wrestling.
8 Dory Funk Jr. - 74 years, 5 months
Damn, those Funks are nuts. Dory Funk Jr. teamed with Terry for years and broke into the business early as his father was the head of the Amarillo promostion. He won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1969 at 28 years old. He would have one of the longest reigns ever with the belt, holding it for over four years. He made just one appearance in the WWE, competing in the 1996 Royal Rumble. He was inducted into their HOF in 2009. Funk's most recent match came in early this summer in Japan,
7 Lou Thesz - 74 years, 243 days
Lou Thesz is one of the names that put professional wrestling on the map. He was arguably the industry's first true superstar. Thesz is a Hall of Famer for several promotions and wrestling newsletters. Thesz has the distinction of being both the youngest and one of the oldest world champions of all time, as he won his first title at 21 and his last at 50. Thesz's last match came in Japan in 1990, when he wrestled his protege Masahiro Chono at the age of 74.
6 Bob Armstrong - 76 years, 20 days
Bullet Bob Armstrong is the patriarch of the Armstrong family, which includes his son Brian, known to WWE fans as Road Dogg. Armstrong is technically still active now, at the age of 76. Some of his recent notable matches include one against his old nemesis, Cowboy Bob Orton at a 2010 GOTJ event. He also had a brief run in TNA in the mid 00s while his son was wrestling there as well, going by B.G. James. The two teamed up in 2008 on Impact!.
5 Dominic DeNucci - 76 years, 82 days
Dominic DeNucci's success as a wrestler started by teaming with Dino Bravo, going by the name of Dominic Bravo, making the two kayfabe brothers. DeNucci would eventually make his way to the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1971, teaming with fellow Italian Bruno Sammartino. The two would win the International Tag Team Championship from the Mongols. DeNucci was a big name in the Michigan/Ohio territory back in the 70s.
DeNucci wrestled his last match just three years ago, teaming with his protege Shane Douglas, to defeat Lord Zoltan and Shawn Blanchard. Be thankful to DeNucci fellow wrestling fans; he trained Mick Foley.
4 Gypsy Joe - 77 years, 36 days
Gypsy Joe is a Puerto Rican native, but he attained much of his success in the Tennessee area, and also a considerable amount of success in Japan. Gypsy Joe's career spanned a whopping seven decades. He was an early pioneer of hardcore wrestling, as he brought a highly physical style. Beginning his career at 18, he wrestled his last match at 77 years old, on the Gypsy Joe retirement show in 2011, held in his old stomping grounds of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Sadly, two years later, Joe's right foot was amputated after a long battle with gout.
3 Dave Kidney - 79 years old
We go back to the U.K. now, as Dave Kidney's last known match took place at SSW in Scotland four years ago. Kidney was taking on guys a third of his age in later years. Not much is known out here in North America about Kidney, but he has been the unopposed British Featherweight Champion, winning the belt over 50 years ago. Who could possibly have a title reign that spanned multiple decades? Wait, how about our next entrant...
2 The Fabulous Moolah - 80 years, 55 days
The Fabulous Moolah was women's wrestling for a long, long time. She won the vacant Women's Championship in a 13-woman battle royal in 1956 and held onto the title, for 28 years, as recognized by the WWE. She would lose the title to up and coming female star Wendi Richter in The Brawl to End It All at Madison Square Garden in 1984. Moolah eventually would infamously win the title back as Spider Lady, when Vince McMahon pulled the first screwjob by having the referee fast-count Richter out of the championship due to a contract dispute. Moolah would come back in the Attitude Era and wrestle the occasional match, even winning the Women's title from Ivory in 1998 at 76 years old.
Her last match would come at 80 years old, defeating Victoria in a match on RAW in 2003. Moolah passed away four years later.
1 Mae Young - 87 years, 248 days
There is no woman who was tougher than Mae Young. Can you name another 70-something woman who would take a powerbomb off a stage through a table? Mae Young is known to fans today for what she did in her WWE run in the Attitude Era, but she was wrestling during World War II. She was a pioneer in her sport, as she was wrestling in the Tennessee territory when the United States entered the war and she helped expand the role of women in the industry.
In the Attitude Era, her roles included being Mark Henry's squeeze and won the Miss Rumble 2000 competition (don't watch that). Oh and of course, she gave birth to a hand on live television.
Mae Young's last match came at 87 years old, in 2010 when she pinned Laycool on the outside of the ring. She passed away early in 2014 at the age of 90.
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