Bearcat Wright

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Bearcat Wright
Ring name(s) Bearcat Wright
Billed height 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Billed weight 275 lb (125 kg)
Born (1932-01-13)January 13, 1932
Died August 28, 1982(1982-08-28) (aged 50)
Billed from Kingston, Jamaica
Debut c. 1959
Retired c. 1974

Edward "Bearcat" Wright (January 13, 1932 – August 28, 1982) was an African-American professional wrestler who became popular in the late 1950s and 1960s. He wrestled during the time of Bobo Brazil, and despite racial tension in the United States became wildly popular as both a heel (a bad guy) and a babyface (a good guy). Wrestling in either singles competition or in tag team competition (often matched with Bobo Brazil), thousands of fans would pack arenas to see him.[1] He was the son of boxer Ed "Bearcat" Wright, and had an 8-0 record as a professional boxer himself in the early 1950s, boxing as "Bearcat Wright Jr."

The Arizona Wrestling Legends website says, "He was seen in Australia, in Canada, throughout the south, in the midwest, in Texas, always winning the support of the fans as he battled the likes of The Sheik, Johnny Valentine and Kenji Shibuya. A tall and lanky man, he was usually noted for flying dropkicks, spin kicks and leaps off the rope."[2] He adopted a "claw hold" for his finisher, and was famous for desegregating wrestling.

Wright declared before an audience in Gary, Indiana, that he would no longer participate in segregated wrestling. Although suspended for a short time by the Indiana State Athletic Commission for his stand, shortly afterwards professional boxing desegregated. Bearcat Wright defeated Killer Kowalski in April 1961 to win the Big Time Pro Wrestling title and become, in effect, the world heavyweight wrestling champion."[3]

Five days before Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech, Wright won the WWA World Heavyweight Championship from "Classy" Fred Blassie.[4] Known for behemoth strength (he would rip phone books in half during promotional interviews for his matches) he also was blackballed by Worldwide Wrestling Associates for refusing to drop the WWA championship to Edouard Carpentier and then back to Fred Blassie on December 13, 1963. He is one of the few wrestlers who legitimately would not drop their title—and so WWA had to hire Gene LeBell (a known judo champion and shooter—or one who knew how to legitimately wrestle to defend themselves if needed) to substitute for Blassie at a rematch. When Wright refused to enter the ring, WWA stripped him of his title and awarded it to Carpentier.[5]

Although creating controversy, promoters soon forgot about his negative sides. Wright continued to draw money and therefore wrestled even into the 1970s.

Wright died at the age of 50 years old on August 28, 1982.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • Big Time Wrestling
    • BTW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[6]
  • Other titles:
    • Arizona Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[18]
    • Ohio Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[19]

References[edit]

External links[edit]