He began his career at a period when his race was frequently considered unsuitable for the industry. He went by the ring name Bobo Brazil and toured numerous cities throughout the world, attracting tens of thousands of spectators. He is well known for his matches with legendary wrestlers such as André the Giant, Bruno Sammartino, and Buddy Rogers, aka “Nature Boy.”
Most importantly, Bobo Brazil was instrumental in abolishing segregation in professional wrestling, paving the way for many other African-American wrestlers in the years after his debut.
Here are seven facts you should know about Bobo Brazil, one of wrestling’s first Black superstars if you are unfamiliar with his name.
Bobo Brazil was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and eventually relocated to Benton Harbor, Michigan. Professional wrestler Joe Savoldi, who gave him his initial wrestling name — Boo Boo Brazil — trained him there. Fans were accustomed to the term “BoBo Brazil” after a wrestling promoter made a mistake and advertised him as such. Because of his height and weight, Bobo Brazil, who stood 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 270 pounds, became a promoter’s dream wrestler.
Bobo Brazil was a talented baseball player before turning to professional wrestling. When he wasn’t working, he enjoyed going to wrestling matches.
He became renowned as the “Jackie Robinson of Professional Wrestling” for breaking racial barriers in the sport. He encouraged many African Americans to enter the ring, and although never winning the world championship, he demonstrated to wrestling organizers that an African American could draw large crowds to matches.
Despite the fact that Bobo Brazil became a well-known professional wrestler, he was frequently denied entry to hotels and restaurants due to his skin color. Due to his race, he was also unable to wrestle in specific locations. African-American spectators were also forced to sit in areas where they couldn’t see him wrestle during several of his contests.
But he didn’t let such obstacles deter him from achieving stardom. He held numerous various championships from the NWA wrestling areas, including Detroit, Toronto, and Florida, according to Fansided. Bobo Brazil has also won the United States Championship nine times in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Bobo Brazil started wrestling in Japan in the 1950s. On one occasion, he even became the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance NWA International Heavyweight Champion.
After winning the WCW World Championship in 1992, history records Ron Simmons as the first African American World Champion. Bobo Brazil, on the other hand, is the first. In the 1960s, he defeated “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers for the NWA Heavyweight Championship, but he declined to take the belt since Rogers was injured. Bobo Brazil stated that once Rogers was fit to wrestle, he intended to have a rematch (as part of a plot). The rematch was placed the next day, and Rogers was declared the winner. Despite the fact that the local promotion celebrated Bobo Brazil’s victory, the NWA never acknowledged his term as champion.
Bobo Brazil inspired not only wrestlers but also boxers like Joe Frazier. In a 1970 interview with The New York Times, Frazier said, “I was about 17 when I started interested in boxing, and the names I remember hearing about were Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Hurricane Jackson, and Bobo Brazil.” When the legendary Rocky Johnson began his career, Bobo Brazil became a mentor to him. Johnson, the late father of future WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and his tag team partner Tony Atlas won the WWF World Tag Team Championship in 1983, making them the first black champions in the promotion’s history.
Bobo Brazil was elected into the WWF Hall of Fame two years after his retirement in 1992. In addition to Bobo Brazil, Arnold Skaaland, Buddy Rogers, Chief Jay Strongbow, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Gorilla Monsoon, and James Dudley were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994. Bobo Brazil’s inclusion in the elite group of wrestlers and management paved the door for other African-American wrestlers such as Ernie Ladd, Junkyard Dog, and Rocky Johnson to brighten the sport. On January 20, 1998, Bobo Brazil passed away.
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