Monday, January 19, 2015

Pioneering MMA manger Phyllis Lee, known as “The First Lady of NHB” has passed away.

Lee was Dan Severn's manager during his pre-UFC pro wrestling days. When Severn entered the UFC, so did Phyllis Lee. She then ended up managing a few other fighters too.

Lee was a confidant of the late Boris Malenko, father of Pro Wrestlers Dean and Joe Malenko, and mentor of former PRIDE fighter Carl “Malenko” Contini. She was a former Pro Wrestler and upon retirement ran the business side of the Malenko Wrestling Academy. Sean Waltman (X-Pac) and Chris Candido (R.I.P) who trained at the academy are said by Dave Meltzer, to view her as an “aunt” if Boris was their father figure.

Since Boris was close to Karl Gotch, it is possible from that's how he may have had associations with Karl's students, the founders of PANCRASE, Minoru Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki. From her managing of gaijin fighters at PANCRASE she came to handle the bookings of the likes of Nathan Marquardt and Laverne Clark, and later Shane Carwin and  Carlos Condit among many others. 

In recent years, she suffered from a variety of health difficulties, and stepped back from managing, spending time at her home near Toledo, OH.

A variety of figures from the early days of mixed martial arts offered their condolences on her Facebook page, including Paula Romero

I am still in shock at hearing news of the passing of Phyllis Lee, a former professional wrestler, the first female MMA agent/manager to various athletes (professional wrestlers included), a former Pancrase USA rep, a fellow female associate in a business dominated by men and a friend to SEG Sports, the original UFC and to myself. She was kind, funny and very knowledgeable in her chosen business. Quite honestly, she was a bad-ass and I loved that about her. Despite however many times MMA history gets rewritten from here on out, I want to say that Phyllis Lee is and will remain an MMA icon…a veritable & lasting MMA original.

Much respect and rest in peace, old friend.