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Bearcat Wright (1932-1982)

    

Real NameEdward M. Wright

Lifespan - 1/13/32 - 8/28/82

6’6” 260 lbs.  - Omaha, NB


Athletic BackgroundBoxing

Teacher(s) - n/a

AliasesBearcat Wright Jr., The Black Panther

Peak Years`58-`64

Place in HistoryBearcat Wright’s legacy has long been that of a troublemaker and rabble rouser, although many forget that he was one of the top drawing cards of the early 1960s, who held several top titles in an era where blacks rarely held any titles.  The son of pro boxer Bearcat Wright came up punching himself and developed into a headstrong young man.  He transitioned from boxing to wrestling, much to the chagrin of his father, in the early 1950s.  It took him a while to get his footing in sport as a tall, lanky man of color who did not have legit wrestling background.  By the late 1950s, Bearcat Wright was undeniable a star with significant drawing power.  When Chicago was the focal point of the pro-wrestling world, Wright was working main events and semi-mains with the likes of Buddy Rogers and Johnny Valentine and in tags with Sweet Daddy Siki.  Chicago had a growing African-American population and the physically imposing Bearcat Wright was a perfect babyface for the office to get behind.  Tony Santos and Jack Pfefer brought him into Boston, billed him as a Jamaican and put their version of the world championship on him in 1961.  A couple years later, Bearcat Wright was in Los Angeles and proved to be one of their best draws.  Freddie Blassie dropped the WWA World title to him and from there folklore takes over.  Whether he decided he was the main man in LA and did not think dropping the title made sense or whether he was just being a self-important agitator, Wright never lost the belt in the ring.  The plan was to send “Judo” Gene LeBelle in to take it from him, but he left town and the LA promotion was hurt by fiasco.  The incident unquestionably harmed Bearcat Wright’s career.  A few years later he worked on top in Australia when the promotion was one of the hottest destinations in the world and held their World title twice.  Back in North America, Wright spent the remainder of his career bouncing around (despite reports of his death) often working as a heel in the South.  Although he had an established name, he was wearing down physically and his reputation was that of a troublemaker.  Sadly, this leg of Bearcat Wright’s career severely damaged his legacy.  Bearcat Wright, despite his race, was enough of a talent and draw that promoters pushed him on top and even with the title in a few places.  Whether he was a trailblazer who was pegged as an “uppity and angry black man” or whether he truly was a self-important and arrogant man who happened to be a popular man of color is the debate that is ongoing and lies at the heart of his legacy in pro-wrestling.



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