In the past couple days, it has been evident that Kofi winning THE title raised a sense of pride in people’s hearts. This was not just a win for all, but this hit differently for people of color, especially the Black community. As monumental as it was, this caused a ripple effect in taking a closer look at the independent scene of wrestling. There are tons of promotions scattered across the world but the reoccurring theme within most is the lack of representation regarding ethnicity.
This has been shown throughout the history of wrestling, with which the trend seems to continue. Imagine walking into a locker room and being the only one who spoke your language or resembled your features. No one to understand your trials or your culture. This is current life of women wrestlers of color.
The responsibility of addressing this unseen bias does not fall upon women of color but on the promoters themselves. Who among them are willing to step back and take a good look at their roster and make change? Being truthful with not only themselves but with wrestling as a whole and say “we need to do better.”
In 2016 a similar conversation led a company to take ahold of this charge. They challenged the archetype and the comfortability that is held so dear by taking this issue to the forefront, thus the start of RISE Wrestling. Since its inception, diversity has been their top priority. Their seminars have produced a variety of talented wrestlers and they’re consistently establishing new talent.
Recently, they conducted a battle royal named RISE of The Contender. Thirty women entered this bout with hopes of victory however, the true importance goes far deeper than that. The makeup of this match was just as diverse as the background of each contestant. These women, picked predominantly from seminars, hailing from different ethnic backgrounds presented an array of shapes and sizes. Each one given an opportunity to individually stand strong as the women they are.
This emphasis on creating strong roles for women of color is just as imperative as building the space for them. RISE has shown and proved this in numerous ways by taking a stand saying diversity matters, representation matters. As a whole the wrestling community holds the power to yield change by banding together to shatter the glass ceiling, allowing talent to shine through. A chance is all it takes, be the change, close the gap for it truly does matter.