Back in 1999, a revolutionary book came onto the publishing scene that chronicled African-American wrestlers who were lost in the archives. It's entitled “Black Stars of Professional Wrestling”, written by Julian L.D. Shabazz. Fast forward to the present, where the pages of history will open once again with the updated version of a book that's sure to educate more than a few.
I actually had a chance to interview Julian about 10 years ago to discuss the original “Black Stars of Professional Wrestling” for a column that I did known as “In the Black”, which originated from a site called Chair Shots. In that interview, we talked about the book, as well as Julian's thoughts on the plight of African-American wrestlers at that time. Have things changed in the past 10 years? You would like to think so.
You can take a look at where guys like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Booker T., Kofi Kingston, Ezekiel Jackson and many other Black wrestlers, who have ascended to numerous heights and championships, as examples. Past legends, such as Ron Simmons, Tony Atlas and S.D. Jones would be proud. I have to say that things have certainly progressed in the wrestling game for African-Americans, as well as other minorities, i.e. Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio, just to name a couple.
It certainly looks encouraging for the future in professional wrestling, as opposed to way back when, in the days of Bearcat Wright and Bobo Brazil, where the recognition simply wasn't there. There are so many unsung African-American wrestlers that can be named, and that's why the reprint of “Black Stars of Professional Wrestling” is so timely. Coming from someone whose idol was a wrestler such as Junkyard Dog, it's nice to know that a rich part of wrestling history is indeed in the past, but certainly not forgotten. Thanks to Mr. Shabazz for at least that much.
Be sure and catch the follow-up, as I talk to Julian Shabazz himself in Black Stars of Professional Wrestling: Part II.
For more information on the original "Black Stars of Professional Wrestling", you can check out A couple of Julian's clips from back in the day on YouTube, starting with his appearances on Black Entertainment Television and SportsTalk with Glenn Harris. For the actual book itself, visit www.julianldshabazz.com for more on that, as well.