Bobo Brazil [Houston Harris] was an African-American professional wrestler within the southern territories of the United States for nearly 40 years. Starting in 1951 and wrestling until the age of 69, just years before his passing in 1998 at the age of 74.
During the first years of his career, Brazil had a hard time getting legitimate matches on a card in the territories near his home in Little Rock, Arkansas. He eventually made his way to the southern territories and that choice paid off in a big way. Fans started to fall in love with the big guy and he got matches with other African-American wrestlers but decided that wasn’t enough. He moved around the territories to bring more value to his name. This worked and he eventually gained enough traction that he began moving his way into the National Wrestling Alliance.
Brazil has many memorable moments from his career. The biggest accolade he achieved was on Oct 18, 1962, he was the first African American wrestler to win a televised match for the NWA world championship. That accolade is typically credited to Ron Simmons who won the World Championship Wrestling world heavyweight championship nearly 20 years after Brazil was crowned NWA heavyweight champion.
Brazil faced many memorable opponents over his 40 year span as a professional wrestler. Some of the biggest names in the business including Abdullah the Butcher, the Sheik, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, Nature Boy Ric Flair and many more.
Forty years sounds like a long time to wrestle by today’s standards, but the business was different back then. This was before wrestlers were required to spend 46 weeks out of the year on the road doing matches three times a week. During the “territory” days, wrestlers didn’t have a home company like the World Wrestling Entertainment or IMPACT Wrestling. It was much more of a show-by-show basis. Wrestlers were able to spend less time on the road. Brazil didn’t take hold of that opportunity. He was an NWA signee so he could go and do any NWA affiliate show whenever he liked and he did quite a few of those.
Brazil was a legend and that was recognized by the WWE. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and the NWA Hall of Fame. Sadly both of these coronations took place after his death. His footprint is still being followed today not only by African-American wrestlers, but by all wrestlers. He blazed the trail and it’s being followed day by day.