Editors at a South Carolina newspaper have issued a retraction after publishing a premature report suggesting female wrestler Mae Young had died.

The ring queen, a pioneer for women in the male-dominated sport, is seriously ill and has been in hospice care in South Carolina since last month (Dec13), but columnist Mike Mooneyham claimed she had been taken off life support and passed away on Thursday (09Jan14).

The news was picked up by various media outlets, prompting wrestling promoter Dixie Carter and fighter Samoa Joe to pay tribute online, but now the reporter has apologised for the misinformation.

A statement released by newspaper bosses later on Thursday reads: "The Post and Courier incorrectly reported today that legendary women's pro wrestling star Mae Young had died at the age of 90. That report is incorrect. Young has been gravely ill.

"The source who told The Post and Courier that she had died had incorrect information. Mae is gravely ill, but still alive. The Post and Courier regrets the error."