This Black History Month, I chose to produce a series of videos highlighting black pro-wrestlers of note. This production recognizes not only the black stars of pro-wrestling in the United States, but internationally as well. Black wrestlers from the United States are not the exclusive focus of this video as it seems appropriate to include the work of those from other countries including Canada, Britain, Japan and the Caribbean. The decision to include biracial stars was important as they experienced challenges based on their race.
The Struggle (1900s-1960s)
Music is “Grass” by Silent Partner (CC BY 4.0)
This section looks at the parallel struggles of black pro-wrestlers and black athletes. While Jackie Robinson might not have had any direct contact with pro-wrestling, his legacy certainly did. Other trailblazers like Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and even Hank Aaron had their ties in to pro-wrestling. The desegregating of sports and individual successes of black athletes unquestionably influenced pro-wrestling.
Bearcat Wright, Black Butcher Johnson, Earl Maynard, Tiger Conway (Sr.), Bearcat Brown, Shag Thomas, Luther Lindsay, Masambula, Sailor Art Thomas, Bobo Brazil, Sweet Daddy Siki, Johnny Kincaid, Viro Small
Quote from Julian Shabazz (author of “Black Stars of Professional Wrestling”)
Jackie Robinson*; Arthur Wharton; Jack Johnson (Muhammad Ali*); Bill Russell, Ali and Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar), Wilma Rudolph, Harlem Rens, Hank Aaron*, Rudy Turpin beats Sugar Ray Robinson, Bill Russell*, Jim Brown, Joe Louis* and Lou Thesz
Matt Jewell (Bearcat Brown) headlocks Thesz; Jack Claybourne with a dropkick, Masambula vs. Steve Logan; Wright KOs Bulldog Brower; Thomas overpowers Johnny Barend & Magnificent Maurice; Abdullah the Butcher; Bobo uses the Coco-butt on Buddy Rogers
Jesse Owens at the “Nazi Olympics” in `36; Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the `68 Olympics; Althea Gibson with the Queen after winning at Wimbledon; Owens’ long jump
Bobo drops Fritz Von Erich; Woody Strode’s Boston Crab; Wright and Moose Cholak; Thunderbolt Patterson gives Bob Brown a whip; Dory Dixon’s dropkick; Sweet Daddy Siki
Ernie Ladd; Arman Hussein; Norvell Austin; Linde Caulder; Sonny King
Dr. Harry Edwards quote