Kofi Kingston is WWE Champion.
Let me say that again…Kofi Kingston is WWE Champion.
After 11 years of blood, sweat, and tears, Kofi Kingston became the first African-born WWE Champion in company history at Wrestlemania 35 in New York City.
Kofimania swept the wrestling world, Black Twitter, social media, and the world over as his organic rise to the top of professional wrestling seemed improbable just a short time ago.
As Kingston was on the Road to Wrestlemania, there were many moments within his journey where it seemed that he would come up short.
Big E, his New Day brother, questioned if Black wrestlers would ever make it to the top of the Business given the obstacles that were continually placed in front of Kingston. Yet, Kingston overcame the naysayers and even Vince McMahon himself, to get his Wrestlemania moment.
His performance at the Elimination Chamber event, his grittiness during his gauntlet match on Smackdown, and the toughness of his New Day brethren all earned him a shot at WWE’s top prize.
He capitalized on the opportunity and defeated a game Daniel Bryan, who ironically said Kingston was a B+ player who couldn’t get it done on the Grandest Stage of them All.
Yet, Kingston delivered the performance of his career to ascend to the top of the wrestling world.
The moment was seminal, timeless, and breathtaking. As the referee counted 1, 2, 3, in the middle of the ring, nearly 83,000 people exploded as Kingston finally achieved his dream.
For myself, and many of us who are wrestling fans of color, the moment meant so much more.
Personally, I thought I had reached my apex as a WWE fan just six short years ago in 2013.
Six years ago I watched in person, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson come back after several years away from the Business, return to win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble against CM Punk.
The Phoenix crowd on that January night exploded as the ‘Great One’ returned to WWE’s mountain top. I never thought I would be in the building to witness a WWE title win by one of the greatest Superstars of all-time, but on that night a dream came true.
I was there screaming like a child at the fact that The Rock, half-Black, half-Samoan, was champion again.
But the moment that I experienced just 13 days ago (as of this writing) as Kingston was being hoisted on the shoulders of Xavier Woods and Big E, holding the WWE Championship high, was the greatest joy that I have ever had as a wrestling fan, or as a sports fan in general.
As Kingston celebrated with his kids, his friends and family, I couldn’t help but think to myself in amazement, “the WWE Champion looks like me”.
Kingston as champion matters.
Representation within wrestling and combat sports matters.
The fact that there are currently 4 UFC champions that are Black is astonishing given the global nature of the sport.
It is even harder to believe that it took until 2019 to have a fully African-born champion in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, yet here we stand.
In a world today that sees Black men, women, and children gunned down at the hands of police and brutalized unmercifully for no reason at all, Kingston as champion matters.
He matters because his journey of perseverance, courage, and drive serves as an inspiration to many within the Black community.
The Black cultural experience is unique, and unlike any other. To have a champion represent Blackness is paramount in a world where there are too many images of US being lost at the hands of those who don’t value US as people.
Wrestling is a phenomenon that has transcended communities and brought legions of fans of every color together for decades.
The stories of wrestling permeate throughout pop culture and create searing memories that make us remember where we were when they happened.
In a world today that needs images and champions of color to inspire new generations, Kingston’s win at Wrestlemania provided a watershed moment that will live on for ages within wrestling lore.
His title win represented progress, change, and most importantly a significant Black cultural experience in wrestling that had been needed for years.
The infusion of social media, with the melding of Black wrestling fans the world over created a groundswell of support that was as sweet as the pancakes The New Day would throw out when making their walk down the ramp each and every night.
That infusion culminated in one of wrestling’s greatest moments, in one of the world’s greatest cities, on pop culture’s biggest stage, Wrestlemania.
Kofi Kingston becoming WWE Champion.
Proudly now, I along with wrestling fans of color the world over can celebrate Kingston as OUR champion.
That fact shouldn’t be lost on anyone.
My champion is Black and that matters.