Name: Bobo Brazil
Year Inducted: 2008
Induction Category: Television Era
Few athletes reach legendary status and even rarer is for certain individuals to not only make, but also to create, history. One man accomplished both by shattering racial bias in his sport during a time of extreme prejudice in America. After approximately 25,000 matches, he was revered by millions of fans. He is the newest member of the PWHF -Bobo Brazil.
Born Houston Harris in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 10, 1923, his fascination with wrestling came at a time when he was working in a steel mill in Benton Harbor, Mchigan. He devoted his time to honing his baseball skills and chiseling his 6'6" frame into pure muscle. He attended matches at the Naval Armory with his friends and was introduced to â€śJumpingâ€ť Joe Savoldi, who took an immediate liking to Bobo. Joe agreed to train him in exchange for setting up the ring and other odd jobs around the wrestling circuit.
In 1951, Joe introduced his newest protege, Bubu Brasil, the South American Giant. By 1954, his athleticism gained him respect amongst his peers and a reputation as one of the smoothest mat technicians against whom everyone enjoyed working. He changed the spelling of his name to Bobo Brazil, and did what Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and Gale Sayers did for their respective sports.
He was a quiet, soft spoken, modest gentleman who showed up for every booking and went about his business in a professional manner day in and day out. Yet in many States, promoters were hesitant to feature interracial matches. One by one, they put their trust in the man who was such a crowd favorite of young and old, black and white.
In the ring, Bobo will always be remembered for his matching colorful outfits, sequined vests and jackets that sparkled under the ring lights and for his matching trunks and boots with the ever present initials â€śB Bâ€ť embossed on the sides. He moved with a style and grace that was often the highlight of every show to his adoring fans who would leap to their feet in exalted joy whenever he would execute the Co Co Butt.
Outside the ring, he would always go out of his way to bring himself to the level of those who had to look up so high to this giant of a man, shake their hand, exchange light chatter, and make them feel like a mountain among men when he called them "Champ", his favorite expression. In the dressing room, he was a presence of royalty. His infectious laughter would fill the room as did his ever present cigar. He was respected by all who came to greet him, and treated everyone an equal whether you were a main eventer or a green rookie. From every promoter, wrestler or fan who crossed paths with Bobo during their career, man for man will attest to you that he was the consummate wrestler, entertainer and friend. Wherever he appeared, his heart was always pointing in the direction of home, where his wife and six children eagerly awaited his return to Benton Harbor.
Near his home, working for the Detroit-based NWA Big Time Wrestling promotion, he would be most famous. It was here that Bobo generated one of the fiercest and longest running feuds in the history of professional wrestling with none other than his nemesis, The Sheik. Their bloody battles were often compared to gladiator death duels similar to those witnessed in the ancient Roman Coliseum. In 1970, at Detroitâ€™s Cobo Arena, Bobo was the first to end The Sheikâ€™s long title reign. They exchanged that title many times over the coming years until 1993.
After his retirement, he settled into his hometown of Benton Harbor and operated Boboâ€™s Grill, a family restaurant. After years of ring punishment, Bobo was confined to a wheelchair, yet he still had the spirit and ability to bring joy and laughter to those close to him. He passed away on January 20, 1998.
I only wish that for one final time, I could be with him in the same ring and experience the excitement and chills generated when the ring announcer would step up to the microphone and proclaim........."and from Benton Harbor, Michigan.......weighing in at 299 pounds, the newest member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, ladies and gentlemen, Bobo Brazil."
- Dave Drason Burzynski