In 1992 Ron Simmons became the first African American world champion in pro wrestling history by winning the WCW World Heavyweight Title. Simmons reflected on that historic occasion during an interview with Andy Malnoske of Wrestling Inc.
“Anytime something groundbreaking happens, it’s always significant. During that time, I was trying to do what everyone else in this business was trying to do and that’s to be the best at what you’re doing,” said Simmons. “So, you’re never thinking about making history at that point. At that point I had no idea that I was the first black world heavyweight champion because I aspired like everyone else and that was to become champion, period.
“Then to have the significance of it and to have some young people walk up to me and say, ‘Hey man, I can’t tell you what that meant to me and how it impacted me and changed my life.’ That is what you can not put a price on.”
Simmons is best remembered in WWE for his days teaming with Bradshaw as a part of APA. He shared the wildest moment he had on the road with Bradshaw and Teddy Long.
“Well, of course we had several. But I think the most memorable one was when we were traveling with Teddy Long who was made the designated driver with Bradshaw and I in the back seat. So one night we were in a snowstorm and I had to relieve myself,” recalled Simmons. “[Long] is mad because he’s the one driving. So Bradshaw and myself get out the car. Then Bradshaw gets back in after he finished and Teddy’s so mad that he just storms off with just Bradshaw in the car.”
Bradshaw then told Long that they left Simmons behind but Long was still so mad that he didn’t even realize it.
“After about five miles he finally looks back and sees I’m not in the car. I’m freezing and you can not find me in the storm. So they try to turn around to find out where I am. Thank God I kept a lighter and I was able to use the lighter to signal where I am. Needless to mention when I got back in? Teddy had to pay Bradshaw for protection,” said Simmons.
If there was a separate wing in the Hall of Fame for catchphrases, Simmons’ “Damn!” would be on the first ballot. He discussed the origin of what became his signature saying.
“I think whenever things were going not so well in the ring, I would always say that and the people in some of the towns would repeat it when we went back,” stated Simmons. “My voice carried so well and one night we were there and I said it and they just started chanting, ‘Damn!’
“So the writers caught onto it and they said let’s just try this in a scene. So Bradshaw, Booker T and John Cena were doing an exchange and they had me say, ‘Damn!’ So that’s where ‘damn’ was born.
“And the rest is ‘DAMN’ history!”
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