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  #1  
Old 04-07-2010, 11:20 AM
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Default How racist was Saba Simba?



Being British, I'm quite often embarrased about watching wrestling. However, I have never been more embarrassed than when I was watching something from the early nineties and Saba Simba came out. Here he is.



The gimmick basically consisted of Tony Atlas dressing up like a tribesman from Uganda and doing a load of stereotypical shit like dancing about as he wrestled. Unsuprisingly the gimmick didn't last very long, but honestly, I was watching it with friends, and shrank into my seat when he came on.

Am I overreacting, or was Saba Simba the most racist thing that wrestling has ever done?
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  #2  
Old 04-07-2010, 12:12 PM
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Definitely not the MOST racist thing wrestling has ever done. As a matter of fact, Kamala was a very similar gimmick to the one you mentioned, only he was grossly overweight, slapped his stomach and acted like a savage. And he was around for a number of years in the WWF spotlight.

A good percentage of wrestling characters have always been based on taking stereotypes and amplifying them. The Headshrinkers were Samoan savages that also carried around shrunken heads. The Quebecers were the French Canadian Mountie Police. The Nation of Domination was a black militant gang. Kaientai was a goofy Japanese group that spoke as if they were in a bad Godzilla spoof. Even Eddie Guerrero played the underhanded Mexican with a penchant for stealing. I could go on and on and some segment of people would find each of these gimmicks to be offensive in someway, but it has always been like this.

It has been toned down over recent years, but you still have had your Happy Jamaican (Kingston, played by a West African), your Muslim Extremest (Muhammad Hussan played by an Italian) your stoic Russian (Koslov), and a few others.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:16 PM
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truthfully this was meant as a feel good gimmick-warrior pride.. That was suppose to be how Saba Simba (great lion or something similar) was supposed to be. I think we need to so lighten up...it is all fantasy--what are we going to start boycotting movies---sometimes things are just over picked....but everyone knows he was Tony Atlas....

Last edited by degenxr1 : 04-08-2010 at 12:53 AM.
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  #4  
Old 04-07-2010, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by degenxr1 View Post
truthfully this was meant as a feel good gimmick--if you remember it was right after the huge success of the lion king and the "circle of life song"; and the play had opened and it was really considered ground breaking and special. That was suppose to be how Saba Simba (great lion or something similar) was supposed to be. I think we need to so lighten up...it is all fantasy--what are we going to start boycotting movies---sometimes things are just over picked....
This gimmick was in '91, over 3 years before there was a Lion King movie so yeah I'm pretty sure this wasn't supposed to be a feel good gimmick (and makes me question if you've ever seen Saba Simba in the ring).

Back to the original point, I think this was the WWE being over stereotypical with their wrestlers, something they have been doing for years and years, and it was also at a time where doing gimmicks like this wasn't a really big deal (at least in the general publics eyes). I don't think I would go as far as calling it the most racist thing that the WWE has ever done, especially when considering characters like Akeem (Now the transformation of Akeem may have been the most racist thing they've ever done). I guess what I'm saying is wrestling has often made successful gimmicks that were overly stereotypical (Great Kabuki, Mr. Fuji, Yokozuna, Kamala, The Mountie, New Jack,ect.) so I don't think it's too big a deal and I've seen alot more racist thing out of the WWE than Saba Simba.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:59 PM
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Default Nah

I wouldn't go so far as say this character was the most racist or stereotypical when just a week or so ago Cryme Tyme broke up. Now THAT was the most offensive gimmick I have seen. Black men that steal things and dress up as quote unquote "gangstas".

Remember Tatanka? He did a little Native American War Dance when he got pumped up, and that was about five years ago or so.

Remember Mexicools? They drove out in lawn mowers...

How about Umaga? Great wrestler that he was, his gimmick was another Samoan tribesman.

And what about Finlay? The guy carries a Shelleleigh (unsure how to spell that) and used to have the leprechaun Hornswoggle underneath the ring...

The Great Khali, who spoke almost perfect English to be from India in the movie The Longest Yard, spoke jibberish (possibly Indian, but to the English viewers it might as well have been jibberish to us) throughout his time in WWE. Stereotype much?

Not to mention every Japanese wrestler has had some kind of Japanese sterotype upon them. (Kung-Fu Naki anyone?) Even Yoshi Tatsu has been made to look like a playable character in Tekken.

Keep in mind these are Modern stereotypical stars. In the 80's to 90's it was forgivable to have those Larger Than Life characters, because people wanted to see "High Chief" Peter Mavia take on Junkyard Dog. Gimmicks ran wild, brother but in this day and age people look for realism, and guys like Saba Simba just wouldnt sell now.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:07 PM
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Actually no. Just think back to many foreign wrestlers in the wwe...Every samoan wrestler was made into a dominator who spoke jibberish. The mexicools came out on lawnmowers. There have been others that I can think of at the time, but don't forget...this is wrestling. It's all characters and the characters are stereotypical to entertain the fans!
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Granite View Post
Actually no. Just think back to many foreign wrestlers in the wwe...Every samoan wrestler was made into a dominator who spoke jibberish. The mexicools came out on lawnmowers. There have been others that I can think of at the time, but don't forget...this is wrestling. It's all characters and the characters are stereotypical to entertain the fans!
I think what everyone fails to see is that, just because there have been other racist gimmicks in the WWE, that shouldn't exclude this case of Racism. And this, by every stretch of the means, is the most cliched, and overused gimmick to ever be used the in the WWE; The Foreign Savage. Read; not just African, but foreign. This may as well be placed in the same category as Superfly Snuka and Umaga; there really is no difference between the two, aside that Saba Simba portrayed an African stereotype, and portrayed it more specifically.

Anyway, as to how racist it was.... I'd have to say that Kamala was always more racist. He was led to the ring by his white superior most of the time, and had to be tamed by said white person, always following his control. I'm not too sure if Kim Chee is white, admittedly, though I always felt it was implied. This, to me, separates Kamala from Simba. Simba, at the very least, wasn't led by the hand by a white individual, and wqasn't controlled by anybody. He was a simpleton, but he was less of one than Kamala. I feel if Vince would have given Simba some promo time, that would have really gone to show if this gimmick was worse than Kamala. However, as much as I love Jim Harris the worker, there's no doubt that Kamala was an absolutely offensive gimmick. Quite frankly, I'm often shocked that when people cry racism, this isn't the gimmick they point to. Everyone points to Saba Simba, but the truth is, Kamala was as bad a gimmick as you'll find in the WWE. It was crude, offensive, and yet people typically let it slide.

Anyway, yes, Saba was racist; don't let less racist get confused with not racist. Still, I always found Kamala more offensive as a gimmick.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:27 PM
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I think the Saba Simba character was racist, but I wouldn't put it up there as the most racist angle/character in wrestling history. To me, that dubious distinction goes to the AWA and the Col. DeBeers/Jimmy Snuka feud.

The whole angle was about DeBeers, a white guy, being dominant over Snuka simply because their races were different. Every week, DeBeers would try to demean Snuka and it was all fueled by a racist hatred. This angle took place in the mid-to-late 80's, so many of you might not know of it. Nobody would ever touch an angle like this in mainstream wrestling today.

Back to the original topic, Saba Simba was racist mostly because of who portrayed him actually. Saba was not Tony Atlas' first gimmick. Years earlier, he was "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas. WWF actually wanted us to believe Atlas was now a guy from Africa? Just because he was black, right? I don't remember everything about the character, like if they ever explained it was Atlas and he just grew to hate America or something..but I never liked the character and thought they should have brought him back as Mr. USA again. Instead, they created Saba Simba and definitely stereotyped a certain group of people.

A lot of things WWF did during that time were just stupid. Fortunately for them, fans like me had been with them through the good times in the 80's and so I continued watching despite the suckitude. Also, they still had a few solid wrestlers such as Bret and HBK and Macho Man and the Bulldog.
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:06 PM
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This is the dumbest thread EVER! A lot of really good wrestlers were based on stereotypes. That's the definition of gimmick! It's a marketing thing. If people see people who are like them on tv it gives them something to connect with and so they will watch and likely pay for merchandise. It's not racist, it's just smart marketing.
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:56 PM
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nothing racist at all about that CHARACHTER. that is how wrestling was then, everyone played a charachter. If you see racism in it you need to get the sand out of your vj and hug someone.
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