Wrestling News, Analysis and Commentary

News  -/-  Recaps  -/-  Columns  -/-  Features  -/-  Reference  -/-  Archives  -/-  Interact  -/-  Site Info

Donate to Online Onslaught!
     Daily Onslaught
     Obtuse Angle
     RAW Satire
     The Broad

     Inside the Ropes
     OOld Tyme
         Rasslin' Revue
     Title Wave
Crashing the

     Smarky Awards
     Big in Japan
     Guest Columnists
     2 Out of 3 Falls
     Devil's Due
     The Ring
     The Little Things
SK Rants
The Mac Files
     Sq'd Circle Jerk
     RAW vs. SD!:
         Brand Battle
     Cheap Heat 
     Year in Review
     Monday Wars
     Road to WM 

     Title Histories
     Real Names
     PPV Results
     Smart Glossary
     Message Boards
     Live Chat 
     OO History

If you attend a live show, or have any other news for us, just send an e-mail to this address!  We'd also love to hear from you if you've got suggestions or complaints about the site...  let us have it!

Black History Month:
Pro Wrestling's Black Stars, Part 2
February 12, 2002

by Denny Burkholder
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This is Part 2 (of 4) in Circa's look at the history of black performers in pro wrestling, in recognition of Black History Month in the United States. If you missed the first installment highlighting the pioneering black pro wrestlers of the late1800s and the early twentieth century, just click the link at the bottom of this column.

While the men in Part 1 broke the barrier for black performers when racism and segregation were still major roadblocks to success, the following wrestlers stormed the gates and became superstars themselves in the 1960s and 1970s.

The 1960s & 1970s


One of the most bloodthirsty and sadistic wrestlers in the history of the business, Abby (Larry Shreeve) has been wowing crowds and inflicting brutality on opponents since 1958. With forks, pencils, chairs, and anything else he can grab, he has made mincemeat out of some of the biggest names in wrestling.

The mammoth "Madman from the Sudan" is legendary in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Japan for his classic battles with the likes of Bruiser Brody, The Sheik, Dusty Rhodes, and Carlos Colon. A hardcore wrestling icon, Abby was what hardcore wrestling fans flocked to while guys like New Jack were still in elementary school.

After an amazing 44 years in the business, Abdullah the Butcher still wrestles occasionally. When he's not tenderizing the scalps of his opponents with kitchen utensils, Abdullah enjoys digging into a hot meal at his restaurant in Georgia.


Standing an imposing 6'9" and weighing 325 lbs., "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd was a two-sport star, excelling in both pro football and wrestling. Ladd played professionally for the San Diego Chargers, Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs in the 1960s before leaving football for the improved financial opportunity (believe it or not) of pro wrestling. In 1966, Ladd was the highest paid lineman in the NFL, at the same time he was making his mark as a main event wrestler.

Initially teaming with Bobo Brazil, Ladd soon turned on Brazil and began an impressive run as an arrogant, outspoken heel. With the size and athletic ability to back up his boasts, Ladd earned his first world title shot against NWA kingpin Lou Thesz in 1963 after only two years as a pro.

Though Ladd never won a major world title, he spent the 70s terrorizing the best of the NWA and WWF, including Bruno Sammartino, Gene Kiniski, Andre the Giant and Gorilla Monsoon. Many of the top babyfaces in wrestling felt the wrath of Ladd's taped thumb to the throat - a gimmick he borrowed from "Crazy" Luke Graham.

"I had a great enjoyment for wrestling," Ladd said in a Circa interview last February. "The people are matters of feet away from you. You can entertain people close-up. You can look at them, in people's eyes. In a football stadium, the people sitting up in the crow's nest, you can never see them up there. Let alone, you can't see the people in the front row seats because you're too focused on the football field. But as a wrestler, the people at ringside, you can look in their eyes and see the anger, and the frustration, and the joy. That's everything. And as a wrestler, it's your job to raise the level of intensity, to raise the level of joy, and it takes a rare professional to be able to do these things. And I was very good at it."

Ladd retired from wrestling in 1984, and has recently helped out on the successful U.S. presidential campaign of George W. Bush.


Thunderbolt Patterson was a big star in southern wrestling promotions from the 1960s through the 70s and 80s, particularly the NWA and Georgia. Although Patterson held the Georgia TV title in 1979, he was much more accomplished in the tag ranks, winning multiple titles with partners such as Tony Atlas, Jerry (or "Gerald") Brisco, and Tommy Rich.

Those familiar with the genesis of the original Four Horsemen group in the NWA in 1985 will recall that Thunderbolt Patterson was the first wrestler ever double-crossed by the Horsemen (which, in a way, is an honor in itself). Patterson and Ole Anderson were the NWA National tag team champs at the time, until Ole swerved T-Bolt by making Arn Anderson his new partner and joining Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair as the Horsemen.

Swerves aside, T-Bolt was not in the company of men like Flair, Anderson, and Brisco by accident. He was indeed a top-notch superstar, leaving behind scores of satisfied fans wherever he performed.


Porkchop Cash made his presence felt in the 1970s and 1980s as a predominantly tag team wrestler in NWA territories. Cash broke out in 1974 and 1975 by winning the NWA America's tag titles with Manny Soto and S.D. Jones, respectively. Cash also enjoyed tag title reigns with Jay Youngblood, King Parsons, Ken Timbs, Gorgeous George Jr. and Troy Graham (as Jimmy Hart's original Bruise Brothers duo in Memphis in 1982). He also won the occasional singles title, including the NWA America's title in 1974 and the Central States title in the 1980s. Cash is now retired.


Rocky Johnson, who has recently fallen into the shadow of his "electrifying" son, The Rock, was a phenomenal talent in his own right. With a killer physique and sharp-edged sideburns (sound familiar?), Johnson was a hit with female fans. But he was all business in the ring.

The elder "Rock" made his ring debut in 1964. In the mid-70s, Johnson was a top-ranked contender to the NWA world title, getting numerous title shots at champs such as Terry Funk and Harley Race. As Sweet Ebony Diamond (under a mask) in 1981, he held the NWA TV title. Johnson's WWF tenure peaked with a tag team title reign with Tony Atlas in the early 1980s. Those who angered "Soul Man" Johnson, who was also a former boxer, usually caught a smackdown from one of the stiffest right hands in the business.

Today, Johnson is retired from wrestling and living in Davie, Florida.


Kamala stands 6'7", and has reportedly weighed anywhere between 350 and 400 lbs. He debuted in 1974 and worked under the moniker "Sugarbear Harris" before finding his niche as Kamala. The Ugandan Giant has mixed it up with the biggest and best, including classic matches with Andre the Giant, Magnum T.A., The Von Erichs, Hulk Hogan and many others. Kamala was wild and unpredictable in his prime, making him a feared opponent for any babyface to grapple with.

Younger fans might remember Kamala most for his early-1990s stint in the WWF as a babyface managed by Slick, or from a brief 1995 WCW tenure as a heel adversary to Hulk Hogan. Kamala has wrestled sporadically in the past few years, including a return to the WWF for the Wrestlemania X-7 gimmick battle royal in 2001.


Charlie Cook was a top babyface in Florida Championship Wrestling in the late 1970s and the 1980s. He aligned himself with the likes of Mike Graham and Barry Windham against veterans like Dory Funk, and newcomers such as David Von Erich, Jake Roberts, and Roddy Piper. Florida was a hotbed for pro wrestling during this period, hosting a large number of soon-to-be-legends and promising rookies. Charlie Cook was an integral part of Florida wrestling during this exciting period.


Sonny King was a babyface in the early-1970s WWWF. He tasted gold in May 1972 when he and Chief Jay Strongbow wrested the WWWF tag team titles away from Baron Scicluna and King Curtis.

King also made the NWA rounds, winning the Southern tag titles with Frank Morrell in 1980. Unfortunately, King would suffer a serious injury due to a stabbing incident outside the Charlotte Coliseum in North Carolina in early 1982. He was able to return to wrestling in Memphis later in the year, where he served as manager for The Samoans and Arn Anderson, among others.

Some of the wrestlers listed in the "Pioneers" section were active through the 1970s as well - in fact, some were active the whole decade, and some are still active to this day in some capacity. The latter half of the 1970s saw the ring debuts of a new crop of black wrestlers who would go on to become some of the biggest stars of the 1980s.

[Note: This tribute is by no means an exhaustive list of every black performer in pro wrestling's long and storied history. Exclusions are unintentional and were not done out of spite, but rather in the interest of keeping this already-large column to a respectable size. I apologize in advance for any omissions, and I welcome your feedback.]

Circa's Tribute to Pro Wrestling's Black Stars
Pt.1, the Pioneers -/- Pt. 2, the 60s & 70s -/-
Pt. 3, the 80s -/- Pt. 4, the 90s and Beyond


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




All contents are Copyright 1995-2014 by OOWrestling.com.  All rights reserved.
This website is not affiliated with WWE or any other professional wrestling organization.  Privacy Statement.