Black Wrestler Of The Month Vol 2.: Papa Shango

The story of Charles Wright is the story of how wrestling treats Black wrestlers

David Dennis, Jr.

--

I’m a wrestling fan. I’m Black. This presents a conflict: Wrestling is massively racist and always has been. The older I get and the more I understand this, the more I appreciate the Black talent that persevered despite the obstacles in their way. These are the people who captured my imagination and made me fall in love with the genre; their accomplishments are only amplified by what it took for them to succeed. Sadly, the same things that held them back also often lessened their respective impacts — so I want to give these Black wrestlers their flowers.

Papa Shango’s most famous wrestling moment doesn’t even feature Papa Shango. Instead, it’s a video of Ultimate Warrior, wrestling’s biggest non-Hulk Hogan star in the early ’90s, being interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. Suddenly a green-black ooze starts leaking from Warrior’s head; he starts shaking as only the Warrior could before screaming to the heavens. It’s a microcosm of early ’90s wrestling camp. The story was part of a feud between Warrior and Papa Shango, a voodoo priest character. That’s right. Papa Shango was a voodoo priest.

And it was racist as hell.

--

--

David Dennis, Jr.

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us