Racist Wrestling Gimmick Of The Week: The Life And Times Of Charles Wright, Part 1

Charles Wright had one of the more standard introductions to the wrestling industry. He was discovered while bartending and his physique and tattoos made him perfect for wrestling – especially in the late 80s when the look was all that mattered in so many territories. After a short stint with Jerry Lawler’s USWA where he won the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship, he moved on to the WWF.

His first gimmick in the WWE was as Papa Shango; a voodoo character who would, like, burn guys alive and stuff after matches. As a kid, it was terrifying. As an adult, it’s sort of in the “hey, this is sort of racist to make a Black guy a voodoo priest.” I distinctly remember, though, Shango making Ultimate Warrior throw up and bleed from his head. That gimmick, though, was killed when Shango missed his cue to do a run-in on Hogan/Sid at WrestleMania VIII, helping cement it as one of the worst matches of all time.

Soon thereafter, the voodoo gimmick was dropped and a new, supreme fighting machine was born.


At first blush, Kama seems to be the most harmless of the Charles Wright gimmicks. Kama wasn’t a pimp or a voodoo demigod or pimp. He was just a guy on a motorcycle who beat people up for fun. He was the Supreme Fighting Machine. They never even mentioned that he was a Black guy. He wasn’t Soul Fighter #2 or Jive Jabber Leroy Punch-A-Lot or anything. He was a legitimate badass on a bike.

I remember being so excited for Kama because of the vignettes, making it like he was a legit martial arts master. I was so excited to see Kama vs. Shawn Michaels in the King Of The Ring qualifier in 1995 and everything. The problem was that Kama wasn’t that good in the ring. I don’t know how good of a martial artist he actually was but he rarely showcased it. He sort of wrestled like he was permanently concussed and I’m not sure his knees ever worked. But dammit, I wanted to be a fan.