It's black history month once again and I thought what better way to celebrate than to highlight some of my favorite African-Americans wrestlers. The first wrestler I will be discussing is one of WWE’s most athletically gifted women: Bianca Belair.
Before beginning her WWE career, Bianca Belair, born Bianca Nicole Crawford, was once a student at Austin-East Magnet High School. It was here where competed as a track and field athlete in hurdle events. Her skills as a track athlete took her to three different universities: the University of South Carolina, Texas A&M University, and the University of Tennessee in 2012. At the University of Tennessee, Belair became an All-American and All-SEC selection.
During her final season, she was encouraged to pursue a career in track and field but decided against doing so because she believed her track and field were behind her: "I feel [track] got me where it needed to get me to," Blair said. "It got me a scholarship into college and it took care of college. It just felt like a chapter that I needed to close and move on from there."
With her track and field days behind her, Belair competed in CrossFit competitions and became a powerlifter until a rib injury prevented her from competing. This seemed like a huge setback for Belair but it was actually a blessing in disguise. This moment is what pushed her to put her information into WWE’s database and try to become a wrestler. She was somewhat familiar with wrestling due to her brother being a fan of WWE. About a week after submitting her information to WWE’s database, she was contacted by none other than WWE legend Mark Henry.
Henry promised that he could get her a tryout but in order to get a WWE contract, she would have to put in work. In April of 2016, Belair joined WWE after two tryouts making her first appearance on NXT two months later. Since then she has been absolutely impressive to watch in the ring. One of her defining traits is her signature hairstyle which she uses as a weapon.
Since joining WWE's NXT roster, she has dominated both the 2016 and 2017 NXT Combines, competed at various NXT TakeOver shows, and took part in the Royal Rumble where she lasted over 30 minutes before being eliminated. She also met her husband fellow wrestler Montez Ford and married him in 2018. This month, Belair will face current NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley for the championship. If she wins then she will become the second African-American woman to hold the title with the first being Ember Moon.
A great way to close Black History Month would be for Belair to capture the women’s championship but if she doesn’t, then I won’t be too upset because she has a lot of potential as a wrestler in WWE and it is obvious from watching NXT the past year that WWE feels the same way. With her first action figure being revealed and her going viral on Twitter this week, I think that Bianca Belair has a bright future ahead of her in wrestling.