Playing darts is the quintessential pub game, where players and spectators can crowd around the board and enjoy games with a pint in hand. It’s also a very competitive professional sport, though that may come as a surprise to some.
International tournaments occur regularly, and there are world rankings, national rankings, and top players on various tours, with men and women from countries all over the world competing for prize money and fame. Black darts players aren’t that common, but their numbers seem to be growing.
And black darts players have some of the most famous names in modern darts-throwing.
Best Black Female Dart Players
There are plenty of black female darts players who enjoy competitive games with friends. But there is a name that’s synonymous with dart-throwing black female players.
Televised darts tournaments don’t get quite the same number of viewers as major spectator sports like the World Cup or the Super Bowl. However, darts fans can enjoy live coverage of darts games on streaming and television networks. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see Deta Hedman dominate the competition.
She is a trailblazer in a sport that historically didn’t feature women, let alone black women. Now, she is a household name in her native Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and around the world among fans of the game. Hedman might be a very successful black female dart player, but she didn’t always have the means to enjoy much time playing.
Hedman was born in 1959 and grew up with her close family in a small shack lacking running water or electricity. Meanwhile, her parents emigrated to the UK in search of a better life for her and her siblings. The children went to school four days a week, but the harsh reality of daily life was always a backdrop.
Hedman once said that her upbringing in Jamaica was quite tricky. She has been open about the constant struggle to improve her education but remarked that school was solely there for her to learn to read and write. The rest of her time was spent just trying to survive.
She and her siblings worked on a farm, performing some hard labor and selling vegetables. They struggled with poverty in Jamaica but eventually emigrated to join their parents in the UK one by one. By 1973, Deta was living with her parents and most of her siblings in Witham, Essex.
She first started playing darts for entertainment and to pass the time while babysitting her brother. Then, she started playing in pubs for fun. She entered her first ‘super league’ in 1987 and saw local success. Then, the right-hander entered the British Darts Organization as a professional and began competing at their events.
She continued to develop her talent and made a study of the game she loved. Hedman made her debut on the world stage in 1990 at the Women’s World Masters series, suffering defeat at the hands of Rhian Speed. In 1994, she beat the incumbent champion to take the title and retained the Women’s World Number One ranking until her first retirement in 1994.
She joined the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) tour in 2002 and qualified for the UK Open in 2004. In 2005, she shattered a glass ceiling, defeating major male players like Aaron Turner, Wayne Atwood, and Norman Fletcher. This was the first time a male dart player lost to a female in a televised major tournament.
She took another break in 2007 due to professional commitments, but her return in 2009 saw a run of victories in open competitions, and she first qualified for the British Darts Organization (BDO) Women’s World Championship in 2010. Hedman won that tournament the very next year in only her second attempt.
She continues to compete on various professional tours, playing and beating plenty of men and women routinely. Despite all of her achievements, she’s still been the victim of racist abuse in an email, but it’s nothing new for Hedman, who has been open about some of the comments she had to endure as a female dart player of color.
Best Black Male Dart Players
Even though the BBC stopped televising dart tournaments in the early 1980s, there has been a bit of a renaissance in recent years in terms of television and streaming viewership. So, there are black male darts players who have enjoyed a bit of fame.
Devon Peterson is a South African darts-throwing professional. Qualifying for seven PDC World Darts Championship tournaments, he has gained fame as a bit of a flamboyant personality and a fierce competitor.
Known as ‘The African Warrior,’ he makes his way to the stage for tournament matches accompanied by Shakira’s song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” and occasionally performs a bit of a dance as well. He’s a right-handed thrower and has been playing since at least 2004.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1986, this pro darts player now makes his home in West Yorkshire and has a sponsorship deal with one of the top darts manufacturers, Unicorn.
His professional career achievements include some memorable feats, though he’s never won a major championship. He reached the Preliminary Round in the BDO Worlds Masters invitational in 2010 and went on to qualify for the 2011 PDC and reached the second round, ultimately losing to Gary Anderson in a hotly contested close match.
He and Shawn Hogan had a run in the PDC World Cup of Das in 2012, beating Spain and highly-favored Scotland in successive rounds but eventually losing out to Wales in another tight match. That same year he also played in the UK Open and in a European Tour event, losing both but developing his fan base through skillful play.
Unfortunately, 2013 was mostly an off-year for Peterson, who was dealing with the recovery from an arm injury. He reached the third round of the World Championship in 2014, losing to James Wade. He continued a run of impressive match play in various tournaments but never found himself winning tour events.
In 2020, Peterson made another run through the World Championship and reached the PDC Semi-Final. He lost to the overall tournament winner, Peter Wright, but only a few months later, he beat Johnny Clayton at the German Darts Championship to win his first ranking title. He took home a 4th place prize in the 2020 European Darts Grand Prix, earning him nearly £30,000.
Peterson’s legacy black darts player took on another dimension when he played in the televised Semi-Final of the 2020 PDC European Championship, where he eliminated some famous competitors and reached a legion of fans. He also earned another £32,000 in prize money.
He continues to play in tournaments with mixed results. Peterson’s ranking is among the top 32 players in all of Europe.
Ray Cornibert is a pioneering black dart player with a professional career running from 1977 through 2005. He never had the big money success of some other players, but he competed with the world’s best players in a time where seeing a black face throwing darts on television was a rarity.
Though the darts world has a reputation for being fairly welcoming to all players, insults and inappropriate comments were often the norms for many black players. Despite this, Cornibert made the WDF British Open Semi-Final in 1979 and the Final in 1980.
He had another Quarter-Final appearance on the British Open WDF in 1986. In 2005, he joined the PDC Pro Tour and saw a string of good showings in that tournament. Though he continued to compete, Cornibert never won a major and earned less than £1,000 in total prizes throughout his career.
Alfanso ‘Al’ Hedman
If the Hedman name sounds familiar, you’re correct! ‘Al’ Hedman is Deta Hedman’s older brother, and he is also an accomplished darts player and professional competitor. He also grew up in Jamaica and eventually emigrated to Essex, England.
He goes by ‘Daddy Cool’ on the pro circuit and throws right-handed, like his sister. He won the BDO British Open in 1995 and qualified for the European Darts Masters later that same year. He continued to compete, playing in the BDO Gold Cup in 1996, the 2003 PDC World Darts Championship, and the UK Open. He retired from the PDC in 2005.
Best Black Darts Players, Final Thoughts
Black darts players were once unheard of, at least in the professional ranks. Despite some racial barriers to even amateur play in the pubs and rec rooms of the world, these athletes made an indelible mark on the game, and not just for their wins, losses, and prize money.
Instead, they proved that darts is a game of companionship, comradery, and composure. Your race has no influence on your ability to compete, and their accomplishments prove that when given a chance, black darts players can succeed through talent and dedication to their craft. The successive generations of players will stand on their shoulders.