Black History Month is being celebrated in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and the WWE Network is honoring the contributions of black (I don't use the term African-American because not all black wrestlers were from the United States) athletes from many promotions as well as many historical eras. While professional wrestling has not shied away from running racist angles, wise promoters have looked past a person's skin color in order to make money with wrestlers, regardless of race.
There have been a lot of black wrestlers who have achieved greatness in the squared circle. Bobo Brazil, Ernie Ladd, Booker T, the Junkyard Dog, Ron Simmons, the Rock, Mark Henry, and many others could be mentioned. And for every superstar, there were also enhancement talent that made the stars look oh so good; guys like "Special Delivery" Jones, Mike Saxon, Rudy Diamond, and others.
One wrestler that always impressed me was Rocky Johnson. Nowadays he is best known as the father of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. However before he sired "The Rock", Rocky had a very celebrated career in the squared circle, working in a variety of territories, and winning many regional titles. In 2008 the WWE recognized his contributions to the industry by inducting him into its Hall of Fame.
Born in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1944, Wayde Bowles trained as a boxer, working as a sparring partner for boxing greats Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. In 1966, Bowles would enter the squared circle working under the name "Soul Man" Rocky Johnson. Johnson had a great physique, speed, and incorporated his boxing skills into his matches.
Like most wrestlers of that era, Rocky Johnson traveled from territory to territory, perfecting his skills and winning over the fans. It didn't take the "Soul Man" long to win his first championship belt. In 1967 he teamed with the legendary Don Leo Jonathon to win the Vancouver promotion's National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) Canadian Tag Team titles. Johnson continued to show his skills as a tag team wrestler by winning two more tag team titles in the next three years. In 1969, Johnson captured his first world championship, winning the Detroit promotion's version of the NWA World Tag Team titles with partner Ben Justice (It should be noted that there were several versions of "World Tag Team titles" in the NWA with various promotions recognizing theirs as the only one). Rocky traveled to the Los Angeles promotion where he won the Americas Tag Team title with Earl Maynard.