Throwback Thursday: King Cobra becomes first African American World Champion

King Cobra

On December 30, 1989 history was made at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN. Only a few days prior to ringing in the 1990’s, King Cobra had done the impossible – he defeated Jerry Lawler to become the very first African American Unified World Heavyweight Champion.

With February being recognized nationwide as Black History Month, let’s take the time to review a historic feud that brought our entire community together.

Memphis has such a rich history when it comes to civil rights. It especially shows in our sports. From the Grizzlies Annual MLK Day Game, to the legendary Sputnik Monroe and all that he did to end segregation in arenas across the Mid-South. King Cobra’s feud with The King sent a very special message to its viewers. Anyone can win on any given day, no matter the color of their skin.

Here, The King speaks on losing his title to King Cobra – or as Lawler calls him, “just Cobra.”

After Lawler reclaimed his World Title, King Cobra claims to be the top contender. Lawler, being the villain, strongly disagreed.  King Cobra has to put Lawler in his place.

There are many different viewpoints on King Cobra’s epic title victory. goes as far as to say it was a “fluke”. Yet, the victory & feud will go down in history for its importance during that place in time.


“Throwback Thursday” is a weekly Memphis Wrestling post at

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.


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