Brazil in 1972
|Birth name||Houston Harris|
|Born||July 10, 1924|
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||January 20, 1998 (aged 73)|
St. Joseph, Michigan, U.S.
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Bobo Brazil|
|Billed height||6 ft 6 in (198 cm)|
|Billed weight||270 lb (122 kg)|
|Billed from||Benton Harbor, Michigan|
|Trained by||Joe Savoldi|
Houston Harris (July 10, 1924 – January 20, 1998) was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Bobo Brazil. Credited with breaking down barriers of racial segregation in professional wrestling, Harris is considered one of the first successful African-American professional wrestlers.
Houston Harris was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but later lived in East St. Louis, Illinois, and Benton Harbor, Michigan. He played baseball in the Negro leagues for The House of David, where he was discovered to become a wrestler at a steel mill.
Professional wrestling career
Harris was trained by Joe Savoldi after meeting him at matches at the Naval Armory. Savoldi originally named Harris, BuBu Brasil, "The South American Giant," but a promoter misprinted his first name as "Bobo" in an advertisement, and the name stuck with Harris throughout the entirety of his career. During the time, segregation in the South normally limited African-American wrestlers to only wrestling other African-American wrestlers. However, Harris proved so popular that promoters put aside their prejudices in order to make money.
Brazil would have many matches with competitors such as Killer Kowalski, Dick the Bruiser, Johnny Valentine, and The Sheik, who feuded with Brazil over the course of several decades, with a variety of their matches being bloody matchups. These and other rivals would all fall victim to Brazil's finishing maneuver, the Coco Butt, with the move also breaking racial barriers. Brazil also once wrestled Bill Miller to a draw, and challenged Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in a battle of two top babyface competitors. On October 18, 1962, Brazil defeated "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers by hitting him in the groin causing Rogers to be unable to continue. Brazil refused the championship and they met a couple of weeks later and Rogers won. At the time, the promoters were working a gimmick where the champion would be hit in the groin and the challenger wouldn't accept the title. The same scenario occurred in Toronto two weeks earlier with Bruno Sammartino and Rogers. Neither Brazil, nor Sammartino were officially recognized by the NWA as having won the World Heavyweight Championship. (This distinction is usually given to Ron Simmons, the first recognized African American world champion after winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship).
Brazil served as a mentor to wrestler "Soulman" Rocky Johnson. Brazil's manager was James Dudley, the first African American to be in charge of a major arena in the United States. Dudley would run to the ring waving a towel, as Brazil followed behind.
Brazil retired in 1993 after a four-decade career. His last official match was in Chicago, Illinois against Kelly Kiniski, son of rival Gene Kiniski. Brazil was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame class of 1994 by longtime rival Ernie Ladd. The following year, Brazil inducted Ladd into the WWF Hall of Fame.
Personal life and death
His son Karl wrestles as Bobo Brazil Jr. in the independent circuit. As of 2019 he still wrestles at 67 years old.
Championships and accomplishments
- Big Time Wrestling (Detroit)
- Big Time Wrestling (San Francisco)
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- Eastern Sports Association
- Japan Wrestling Association
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- Midwest Wrestling Association (Ohio)
- National Wrestling Alliance
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling/Worldwide Wrestling Associates
- NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA "Beat the Champ" Television Championship (1 time)
- NWA International Television Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Wilbur Snyder (2), Sandor Szabo (1), and Primo Carnera (1)
- NWA Pacific Coast Heavyweight Championship (Los Angeles version) (1 time)
- WWA World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Television Era (Class of 2008)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Superstars of Wrestling
- SoW United States Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Association (Indianapolis)
- World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
- Other championships
- World Negro Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
1 Not officially recognized as champion because conflicting interests
- Drason Burzynski, Dave. "Bobo Brazil". Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- "Bobo Brazil Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved February 6, 2008.
- "Bobo Brazil bio". WWE. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
- Hornbaker, Tim (2007). National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling. ECW Press. pp. 240–242. ISBN 978-1-55022-741-3.
- Google Books Jackie Robinson reference
- "Bobo Brazil dies at age 74". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on February 23, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- "Bobo Brazil". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- "Ex-Pro Wrestler Bobo Brazil Dies". AP News. January 24, 1998. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
- "N.W.A. United States Heavyweight Title (Detroit)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "N.W.A. United States Heavyweight Title (San Francisco)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "Florida Tag Team Heavyweight Title". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "N.W.A. United States Heavyweight Title (Toronto)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "N.W.A./W.C.W. United States Heavyweight Title". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "WWE United States Championship". Retrieved May 25, 2020.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "N.W.A. Americas Heavyweight Title". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "N.W.A. "Beat the Champ" International Television Title (Los Angeles)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "International Television Tag Team Title (Los Angeles)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "N.W.A. Pacific Coast Heavyweight Title (San Francisco)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "PWI Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Kappa Publishing Group. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Hoops, Brian (January 12, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/12): The Outsiders win WCW Tag team titles". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
- "W.W.A. World Tag Team Title (Indianapolis)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
- "World Negro Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Bobo Brazil on WWE.com
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame profile (archived)
- Bobo Brazil's profile at Cagematch.net, Wrestlingdata.com