Wrestling may or may not be considered real, but wrestlers are real athletes. Have you seen a wrestling match? They are sweating real sweat from exertion and genuinely body-slamming each other into the hard floor of the ring. It does not always look authentic, but it does always look impressive.
Here are some of the best Black wrestlers from the old and new days. We mention the ones who started it all and the ones who are keeping it going after all these years. We would not have one without the other, after all. Check them out.
Anthony White (Tony Atlas)
Tony Atlas is the ring name for wrestler, powerlifter, and bodybuilder Anthony White. Impressively, he has titles and has won championships in each of those sports. He debuted in a tag team in the NWA in 1974 and has been going ever since.
Atlas is a world-class wrestler nationally and internationally. He won the IWCCW Heavyweight Championship twice and the AWF North American Championship once, as well as many other awards. He has carried the weight of the world well.
Bianca Blair Crawford (Bianca Belair)
Bianca Belair is the ring name for Bianca Blair Crawford. She is an American wrestler currently signed with WWE and is the Raw Women’s Champion. Belair has been active for just six years but has already managed to make a lasting impact.
She made wrestling history with Sasha Banks as the first Black woman to main event at Wrestlemania in 2021. She also won a multitude of awards.
Bobby Cash (Porkchop)
Bobby “Porkchop” Cash is a semi-retired American wrestler. He debuted in 1968 and still occasionally does independent shows even though he is currently 74 years old.
Cash has no doubt witnessed and participated in many phases of wrestling in his 54-year career. He had success all over the United States as a single and as part of tag teams. He accomplished many things like winning the NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship.
Booker T. Huffman Jr.
Booker T. Huffman Jr. is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. He is the most decorated and won a combined 35 championships across the three organizations he wrestled for, including six world championships.
He has the ultimate success story that is easy to get behind. Both of his parents died by the time he was 13, and he first got into wrestling as a single father. He worked his way from the very bottom to the very top and became one of the most valuable and versatile wrestlers ever.
Bruce Franklin Reed (Butch Reed)
Bruce Franklin Reed, or Butch Reed, was an American wrestler and football player. He signed as a free agent to the NFL in 1976 but was cut before the season started. Reed debuted as a wrestler shortly after in 1978 and wrestled for 35 years. He, unfortunately, passed away in 2021.
Claude Patterson (Thunderbolt)
Claude “Thunderbolt” Patterson is a retired American wrestler. His 30-year career ran from 1964-1994. Though he won many awards in the ring, he did many notable things outside of it too.
He spoke out against poor working conditions and sued for racial discrimination. He even tried to start a wrestling union but was quickly blacklisted for it.
Conrad Efraim (S. D. Jones)
Conrad Efraim was an Antiguan wrestler who used the ring name Special Delivery Jones or S. D. Jones for short. His 24-year career started in 1971 with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
During his career, he wrestled an insane 240 matches per year. Two times he even wrestled 300 matches in one year. When he was about something, he was about something. He sadly passed away in 2008 due to a stroke.
Devon Hughes (Brother Devon)
Brother Devon is one of several ring names for retired American wrestler Devon Hughes. A good portion of his 39-year career was spent tag team wrestling as a member of the Dudley Boyz.
He and his kayfabe half-brother won 23 world tag team championships and were inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame. He did single wrestling too, and won awards for it, but was much more well-known for his tag team matches. He still works for WWE as a producer.
Dwayne Johnson (The Rock)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the most influential and charismatic wrestler. He is a retired third-generation American wrestler, an active actor, and a businessman. The Rock wrestled for eight years but had a lasting impact on the coolness and popularity of wrestling in the late 90s.
He was the first Black person to win the WWF and the WCW Championship. He went on to set a record by winning the WWE Undisputed Championship seven times! He was unbelievably popular with fans despite being a heel most of his career.
Elijah Burke (The Pope)
Elijah “The Pope” Burke is an American wrestler and color commentator. He also earned a degree in criminal justice. He was a law enforcement officer for a short time and an amateur boxer, which comes through in his wrestling style.
He debuted in 2003 and has won several championships, including the OVW Heavyweight Championship and the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship. He was voted the Most Improved Wrestler of the Year in 2010 as well. It is nice that people noticed that.
Ettore Ewen (Big E)
Ettore Ewen, better known as Big E, is an American wrestler currently signed to WWE. He has been successful as a solo wrestler and a tag team wrestler. He was a part of the group New Day which also included Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.
So far, he has won several championships, including the WWE Championship and the Raw Tag Team Championship.
Franklin Roberto Lashley (Bobby Lashley)
Franklin Roberto Lashley, or Bobby Lashley, is an American wrestler, bodybuilder, and mixed martial artist. Lashley has won copious awards since his debut with WWE in 2005. He is the current WWE U.S. Champion and an eight-time world champion.
He was the third Black man to win the WWE Championship after The Rock and Kofi Kingston. Lashley has muscles upon muscles that he knows how to use well. He has a very intimidating presence in the ring that is fun to watch.
Houston Harris (Bobo Brazil)
Bobo Brazil was the ring name for Houston Harris. He was an American wrestler who had an incredible 42-year career. He was one of the first successful African American wrestlers who broke down racial barriers in the sport. He had a well-known feud with The Shiek and Johnny Valentine.
Brazil accomplished an incredible number of feats throughout his career, including the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship and the WWA World Tag Team Championship. He also made it into multiple Halls of Fame.
Jacqueline Moore is an American wrestler and wrestling manager. She was the first black woman to win the WWE Women’s Championship and to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. She’s a formidable opponent who paved the way for other black women in wrestling.
So far in her 34 years, she used 11 different ring names. She won more than 11 different awards, so it probably cancels out. Some other notable awards include the WWE Cruiserweight Championship and the USWA Women’s Championship.
James Arthur Harris (Kamala)
Kamala was the ring name of James Arthur Harris, AKA the Ugandan Giant. His character was a simpleminded Ugandan heel who never spoke and slapped his belly. He wrestled barefoot in a loincloth and war paint on his face and chest.
In 1993, he wrote his own music, which revealed many things. Most notably was his frustration with his wrestling working conditions, especially the low pay. He wrote an autobiography in 2015 called “Kamala Speaks.” He passed away in 2020 from complications from COVID and diabetes.
Jerome Young (New Jack)
New Jack was the ring name for American wrestler Jerome Young. He debuted in 1992 and was active up until he died in 2021. He was known for his hardcore wrestling style and for “shooting” on opponents or going off script.
New Jack was the only wrestler to play his entrance music throughout the match. He won a multitude of awards during his career including the ACPW Hardcore Championship.
J.W. Ware, Jr. (Koko B. Ware)
J.W. Ware, Jr. used the ring name, Koko B. Ware and is a retired American wrestler who debuted in 1978. His 41-year career ended in 2019. He became super popular when he brought a blue-and-yellow macaw named Frankie to the ring, earning him the nickname “The Birdman.”
Frankie would dance and flap around before and after each match he attended. Ware used to enter the arena to the song “The Bird” by Morris Day. He really committed to the bit there. WWE inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Kia Stevens (Kharma)
Kia “Kharma” Stevens is a retired American wrestler and active actress. Her wrestling career lasted 19 years and ended with her induction into the Impact Hall of Fame.
She won several championships, like the TNA Knockouts, and was the third woman ever to enter the men’s Royal Rumble match. Possibly ironically or paradoxically, she has a role on a wrestling show on Netflix called “GLOW.”
Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah (Kofi Kingston)
Kofi Kingston is the ring name for Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, a Ghanaian-American wrestler. His career began in 2006 when he signed with WWE, and it has been quite impressive so far.
He won 22 championships in total, including four Intercontinental Championships and three United States Championships. Kingston is the only African-born world champion in WWE history. As a 14-time tag team champion, he is tied with Edge for the most overall reigns.
Lawrence Robert Shreve (Abdullah the Butcher)
Abdullah the Butcher is the ring name of Lawrence Robert Shreve. He’s a retired Canadian wrestler whose career lasted 52 years. He had a reputation for doing violent and bloody hardcore wrestling matches and even has the blading scars to prove it.
His gimmick was an evil Arabian sadist who never spoke English even though that is his maternal language. It was so popular with fans that he traveled worldwide as a special attraction.
Mark Henry Is A Black Wrestler
Mark Jerrold Henry is a former American Olympic weightlifter, strongman, and professional wrestler. Currently, he is a commentator, coach, and talent scout for AEW. Henry won the world championship twice during his 25-year career with WWE.
WWE inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2018. He won many awards in weightlifting and won medals at the Olympics. He is genuinely a super strong wrestler.
Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado (Sasha Banks)
Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado uses the ring name, Sasha Banks. She began training in 2008 at the age of 16 and made her debut in 2010 at 18.
Banks wrestled in the independent circuit for several years before signing with the WWE. She’s currently signed with the WWE’s SmackDown brand where she’s won many championships. Banks and Bianca Belair became the first Black female wrestlers to headline a Wrestlemania.
Pezavan Whatley (Pistol Pez Whatley)
Pistol Pez Whatley was the ring name of American wrestler Pezavan Whatley. His 25-year career ran from 1973-1998 and was best known for his stint with the NWA Mid-America circuit. Whatley won many championships, including the AAW Heavyweight Championship two times.
After struggling with heart problems for several years, Whatley sadly died from a heart attack in 2005.
Rocky Johnson was a Canadian wrestler and is the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He accomplished quite a lot in his 27-year career. He was the first Black man to win the Georgia Heavyweight Championship.
Rocky and his partner, Tony Atlas, were the first Black men to win the WWE World Tag Team Championship in 1983. After his retirement in 1991, he helped train his son, so he could start his wrestling career.
Ron Killings (R-Truth)
Ronnie Aaron Killings is an American wrestler and rapper who uses the ring name R-Truth. In 1997, he dipped his toes in the wrestling water by working as a manager in the independent circuit and training on the side. In 1999, he debuted as a wrestler with WWF.
He’s been working his way up to the top ever since. He won a plethora of awards including the United States Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championship with Kofi Kingston. He also holds the record for the most reigns at 53.
Ron Simmons (Faarooq)
Ron Simmons wrestled under his name as well as a few other ring names like Faarooq. He’s a retired wrestler and football player whose 23-year career lasted from 1986-2009.
Simmons was the first Black man to become a world champion in wrestling history when he won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. He earned multiple other awards, most of which were for tag teams.
Shelton James Benjamin is an American wrestler currently signed to WWE’s Raw brand. Unlike the other wrestlers we mentioned, Benjamin started wrestling in high school and continued through college. So, it was an easy decision for him to pursue a career in wrestling.
Benjamin wrestled quite a bit internationally, especially in Japan. He began his professional career as a face, or hero, but became a heel not long after. He won many awards, including the Intercontinental Championship three times.
Sylvester Ritter (Junkyard Dog)
Sylvester Ritter, or the Junkyard Dog (JYD), was an absolute fan favorite during the 80s when many other black wrestlers were struggling. He wore a trademark dog collar and chain in the ring. JYD was known for his headbutts and body slams.
His wrestling career lasted 18 years, and he was a trainer for five years until his unexpected death at 45. He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
Trinity Fatu (Naomi)
Naomi is the ring name of American wrestler and dancer, Trinity Fatu. She was the first Black woman to win the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship at the Elimination Chamber.
She’s won several other events like the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship with Sasha Banks in 2022. Naomi debuted in 2009 and isn’t quitting any time soon. She was also one of the main cast members of the reality show “Total Divas” which gave an inside look at life in the WWE.
Best Black Wrestlers, Final Thoughts
These Black Wrestlers were not ranked from best to worst. We’ve just put their names in alphabetical order. Who could choose the best when everyone is this good?
If you have the time, check out those videos and decide for yourself who the best Black wrestler is. Not so easy, is it?