Mark Henry & Koko B. Ware Discuss Racism In Professional Wrestling

Less than a week after The Atlantic posted an article about WWE's race problem, Mark Henry & WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware appeared on HuffPost Live to discuss racism in WWE.

They discuss the unique situation of scripted sports entertainment and how that affects who gets pushed and who gets titles, as well as stereotypical gimmicks that have historically been implemented in WWE and the effect it could have on young viewers. In one example, Henry notes that he came up with his "silverback" gimmick, but eventually decided he could not do it because his kids were watching him at home. They also discuss characters such as Kamala and Akeem the African Dream, and analyze reactions from R-Truth and Kane.

The full discussion is available at this link or embedded below:

  • Venom

    While the interviewer has some good points he seems confused and nobody wants to point out that for the last 10+ years they’ve had 2 top titles. They also keep focussing on African American but he’d make a better case if he brought up other races like middle eastern, Indian/Asian. He mentioned Iron Sheikh but still.

    Batista is considered a visible minority and he held both world and WWE titles.
    Alberto Del Rio/Rey Myseterio have held both titles.

    While world title want as big as WWE title Booker T. and Mark Henry have held it. So did Great Kahli.

    Come to think of it we never had a black MITB winner. I think Damien Sandow is middle eastern though. His real name is Aaron Haddad which I know Haddad is a common Arabic last name.

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Sandow is, I do believe, from Saudi parents who immigrated here before he was born.

      • Venom

        yeah i figured something along those lines.

        I know Hispanic seems like border line white but I work in film industry and black, Asian, Indian, middle eastern and hispanic are considered visible minority. I fall in that category myself.

  • Hurtful Truth

    Another bigot. It seems that black people (some not all) are always bitching about something when they never touch on the actual issues of not just how “african americans’ get treated but how about the number of japanese wrestlers have been treated or even how many mexicans…. or just different races in general? WWE has never had an English WWE champion either but no one seems to be making an issue about that? Just another “journalist” showing his true ignorance because it’s only about black people not getting this or that and they are still oppressed or whatever bs he can spit out right? This is why racism never goes away because there’s always someone wanting to stir up anything to garner any amount of attention but it sure looks like he’s getting paid good enough but hey that’s it’s still not enough so is anything ever going to suffice? No because they are never happy with what they’ve got, people like this only look at what they don’t have. This guy probably read that Altantic article and begged his bosses to make this video just to get people talking because it’ll get the attention he probably has been desperately wanting. Shit is getting old and tiring already. Get over it. If you don’t like what you see, simply change the channel or go watch something that’s already got plenty of black people winning titles and getting paid more than anyone in wrestling like the NFL. Oh wait still have a few more months before we see that.

  • Justa Mazin

    Mark Henry’s Not Being Authentic Hes Doing His Interview At WWE Offices Thats Why Hes So Watered Down And Watching What Hes Saying

    • Dave Barton

      Is There A Reason You Capitalized Every Word In Your Run-On Sentence?

  • Robinescence

    Mark Henry is being so politically correct here that it’s painful. He was peddling away from the subject as hard as he could. He absolutely refused to stay on topic too and that was annoying. Koko rambled on incessantly and said very little. Kane made a non-statement and it closed with Koko saying more nothing before it ended. The interviewer wasn’t being difficult at all. He was merely trying to have a healthy conversation about the obvious. Henry wasn’t willing to do it and I’m not even sure Ware understood what he was there for. That discussion should be had but it needs to be had with far better participants.

    • Venom

      But at the end of the day, can we really expect Mark Henry who’s still under contract is gonna criticise the company he works for and say they’re racist. I think we only have a short hand on black wrestlers in WWE….

      Titus O’Neil (jobber)
      Darren Young (jobber/injured)
      Xavier Woods (jobber)
      Kofi Kingston (midcard/jobber)
      R-Truth (midcard/jobber)

      Then 3 divas :Cameron, Naoimi and Alicia Fox.

      • Venom

        Wow I forgot to add Big E. which shows how much of an impact he’s making on myntv screen. I didn’t count Mark Henry because I consider him a part timer.

      • Robinescence

        I guess it’s really Hill’s fault for choosing to interview him then. He kinda has to know that Henry would “tow the company line.” As for Koko, I don’t even know where his head was. Hill shouldn’t have bothered with him either.

        • Venom

          He really should have interviewed someone like Kamala who last time I remember was bitter with Dawn Marie and quit the business to be a truck driver and musician. He quit because of the payoffs.

      • Matt Zardoz

        What do all these wrestlers have in common? Wait for it, wait for it….. THEY ALL SUCK!

        • Robinescence

          Disagree completely. Kofi hurts people but he doesn’t suck in the least bit. R-Truth’s a little long in the tooth but he doesn’t suck either. Titus could be good if they’d throw him a bone. None would/ could be faces of the company but they don’t suck. I also don’t think Naomi or Cameron suck.

  • George Junior

    I also have an issue with Mark Henry ducking and dodging the questions. There have not been many instances where a black man has had a prominent role in WWE. Yes, there have been other minorities, but why not black men?
    For Mark Henry to say that all titles mean the same thing as the World Titles, that straight bull. These days, anything that’s less than a world title is just a prop. When is the last time that the secondary or tag-titles have actually been relevant, and not just in a season?
    Vince has made millions off of exploiting race, plain and simple. Yes, we have had 3 World champions that are black, The Rock, Booker-T and Mark Henry.
    A great point that was brought up, why have their not been any black faces of the company, besides The Rock?
    I have just lost respect for Mark Henry, he just had a corporate hand up his ass. His points didn’t make any sense and were NOT on point. That interviewer called him out. Being a champion isn’t the be all-end-all, but there is a point to be made. It’s sick how Mark Henry conducted his article.

    • Venom

      My main issue with the interviewer was he only focussed on blacks. I think he should have talked about Japanese wrestlers who are great in the ring but always used as comedy acts like Taka, Funaki and Yoshi Tatsu. Kenta is coming in and hopefully doesn’t go that route.

      But even if he stuck to black people he should have brought up the well publicized ppv/show bonus Kamala got when he wrestled Hogan and Undertaker.

      I do think it also had to do with Hogan being champion for a long time so lots of heels and other people couldn’t be the face of his era. They could hve had say Ahmed Johnson be a world champion but he had bad attitude, couldn’t wrestle and was injuring people. Also, not to get into the Cena sucks banter but Cena has been the face for the last 10 years so there wasn’t a chance for another race or person to be. R-Truth and Kofi each had oppurtunities but never panned out.

      • Matt Zardoz

        Amen. People too caught up in the “black injustice”. Yet nobody wants to talk about the other races.

    • MadDawg

      Just for argument’s sake, which black wrestlers, other than The Rock, do you feel like could have been the face of the company?

      • Xavier

        Lashley had potential. Needed to work on his mic work but he was pretty high up the card though before he had that falling out with Michael Hayes. MVP was completely buried in late 08 for whatever reason (three month losing streak). MVP was really good on the mic, had plenty of charisma and was really good in the ring. WWE missed the boat on both those guys and they were pretty recent.

        • Matt Zardoz

          With all due respect, both those guys you mentioned sucked big time and would never sell tickets.

      • Robinescence

        Big E. absolutely had/has a shot. He has the personality and the charisma. They were moving in a good direction with him and then bam! Nothing. It’s wasted opportunities like that that are hard to ignore and it’s very much in WWE’s pattern.

  • Nails

    This is a very hard interview to listen too. The interviewer is reaching. Nobody has made clear the difference between WHC and WWE champ. Wrestling is full of characters – cartoon characters. If everyone was the same it would be boring.

  • live1213

    I’ve read all the comments but the bottom line is its not racism that’s keeping from a black champion it’s finding a blackman to play a stereotype role a thug or an Uneducated or a black fool ( Mark Henry has cams across as the angry black man ,the sexy chocolate made him look like a fool note he was champion the Rock focuses on his so moan part which allows him to b a crossover the movies help too but any serious black man will never win Big E, Bobby Lashley, or any Ron Simmons type (back in the day) but a blackman that’s willing to may himself look like an asset Vincent will promote Vincent not racist the story lines to get a black champion on what tv want to see is.

  • 384

    Going by the parties involved here. Mark Henry – okay, but could’ve been better and the fact he was in WWE HQ, and the video I think said “invited with others outside,” meant that he probably was on corporate supervision. The interviewer – I disagree with him more than I agree. Seems to want to jump into the opinion that there is a race problem in the company, eager to get into hard points that would prove him right. Koko – alright up until he talked about pay for Wrestlemania 3. Complaining that it wasn’t fair, allowing that eager interviewer to jump and claim that the pay was based on race, when it really was based on who drew and who was in the bigger matches (Hogan and Andre getting $1 million or so each if I heard Koko right).

    I don’t think there’s a race problem, there’s stereotpying for sure, but that’s entertainment. Nobody mentioned Iron Sheik as a WWE Champion, Mark Henry’s defense generalized title significance too much, when the interviewer was focused on the WWE World Title history. Bobby Lashley could’ve been WWE Champion, I believe, if he wanted to stay in the company longer. There was a big opportunity against Cena during his 380 day reign in 2007, and I bet he would’ve beat John if he signed a new contract. There might have been an opening for Mark Henry last year, key word “might.”

    That just leaves Big E, who suffers from lack of creative direction, but as a (wild) prediction, how about in 5 years the guy becomes WWE Champion? Long enough time to continue being irrelevant and then find a resurgence. As well as be in a faction.

    Speaking of which, they could turn this race thing into a positive. Make a heel stable like the Nation with Big E, Mark Henry, Kofi, R-Truth, and Xavier Woods. So many positives there. Mouthpieces in R-Truth and Mark Henry, imperative as this would be an angry stable, and those guys are best as angry talkers. Kofi can finally be a heel and make a new name for himself there, same with Xavier Woods, and Big E. A stable to form in 2015 or 2016 (with regards to Mark Henry’s contract, which expires in 2016).