Betty Wade-Murphy (November 9, 1952 – September 29, 2023), better known by her ring name Joyce Grable, was a prominent American professional wrestler. She was most notable for her long-term tag team partnership with Wendi Richter. During her career, she won the NWA United States Women’s Championship once and the NWA Women’s World Tag Team Championship six times—three times with Richter and three times with Vicki Williams.
Professional Wrestling Career
The name “Joyce Grable” was first used by Joyce Fowler (also known as Joyce Becker), who was active in professional wrestling from 1963–1974 before retiring to focus on her family. In the early 1970s, Betty Wade-Murphy was trained by Judy Grable, her childhood idol. She adopted the ring name “Joyce Grable” as a tribute to Judy Grable and also because Fabulous Moolah felt she looked similar to the original Joyce Grable (portrayed by Fowler).
National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)
Grable and her tag team partner Vicki Williams won their first NWA Women’s World Tag Team Championship by defeating Donna Christanello and Toni Rose on October 15, 1973, in New York City. They held the title until October 1975.
In 1978, at Superbowl of Wrestling II, Grable won an eight-woman battle royal. Later that year, she defeated Ann Casey to win the NWA United States Women’s Championship. She also helped train Judy Martin and, in 1979, reclaimed the NWA Women’s Tag Team Championship with Williams by defeating The Glamour Girls.
Partnership with Wendi Richter
In 1982, Wendi Richter became Grable’s tag team partner. The duo wrestled in various promotions, including Stampede Wrestling and American Wrestling Association, against teams like Velvet McIntyre and Judy Martin. They continued their tag team success, earning multiple championship titles.
In 1986, Grable participated in WrestleRock 86, an event by the American Wrestling Association. She continued to make sporadic appearances on the independent circuit until her retirement in 1991.
Retirement and Personal Life
After retiring, Grable worked as a receptionist at a center for mentally and physically disabled people. She had one biological son, Derek Murphy, and two stepchildren, Melissa Wade and Richard Wade, from her second marriage.
Championships and Accomplishments
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Women’s Wrestling Award (2010)
- Courage Award Winner (2022)
- Deep South Wrestling
- DSW Women’s Championship (1 time, final champion)
- National Wrestling Alliance
- NWA Texas Women’s Championship (1 time)
- NWA United States Women’s Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Women’s Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Vicki Williams (3) and Wendi Richter (3)
- NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2012)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2013
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Girl Wrestler of the Year (1973)
- St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2022
Joyce Grable’s legacy is that of a trailblazer in women’s professional wrestling, and she will be remembered for her contributions to the sport.