Ron Simmons Talks About Being The First Black World Champion, The APA & “Damn”
WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons recently spoke with the official podcast of WrestlingNewsSource.com, WNS Podcast. He discusses a number of topics in depth including including the origins of DAMN!, transitioning from professional football to wrestling, becoming the first black heavyweight champion and his view on a black man becoming WWE Champion “REAL SOON” and more. Here are the highlights of what he said about:
On his transition from professional football to professional wrestling: Well, I’ve always been a fan of professional wrestling.and because I’ve always loved sports that particularly had to have some kind of physical prowess and athletic ability. So, I’ve always been a big fan and I recall myself as a young man growing up watching guys like Tony Atlas, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and throughout my football career I was always a big fan and I thought perhaps in the back of my mind one day that after my football career ended and if I didn’t go into Communications field coming out of the college I was at, I would probably give it a shot. As it turned out, I played 25 years of professional ball and decided to give professional wrestling a shot and got trained by Hiro Matsuda whom I consider to be, was, the best in the business at that particular time and for me he’ll be forever the best. And that transition for me it was harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought that coming from football it would be somewhat easy but I’ve got to be honest it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done as far as requiring physical ability.
On the reaction he received from family and friends after becoming the first black world heavyweight champion: At that particular time, it wasn’t so much celebrated as the first Black World Heavyweight Champion. It was just me having won the World Heavyweight Championship at that time. And then I think that perhaps as time went on then it set in that history was made. That I was the first black man to wear the World Heavyweight Championship and even to this day I sometimes have to catch myself to make sure that was real and that I have gone through the things that I did because I consider that to be quite an accomplishment. And I’m proud of myself and the most proud of myself for the fact that it opened up more doors for other young black men and women to pursue professional wrestling. But it gave encouragement to all young athletes. So, thats one of the things I’m biggest and most proud of
Thoughts on WWE being against giving a black man the world heavyweight championship: All the years I’ve worked with WWE, that opportunity is there for any man or woman for that matter. If you’re willing to work and put in the dedication that it requires you will get that shot. That I have no problem with. I’ve worked with Vince (McMahon) for quite a while. I know him, I know all of his family members. So, that’s not true. If opportunity presents itself and if there’s someone they consider to be worthy black or white they will get the opportunity to put that belt on and I’m certain that it won’t be long before that happens because you look up there you have quite a few black young men up there now that given a couple of more years under their belt will probably be wearing that belt really soon. So, no I have no problem with that. I think that’s going to happen real soon.
On whether he prefers tag team or singles: Oh definitely tag. I had the most fun starting with Butch and Doom. It was there. But I think perhaps throughout my career and then of course with The Nation Of Domination. With all of the guys in there I had a lot of fun. But, my brother, and native Texan I might add, Bradshaw. It was the most fun. I mean I couldn’t think of a better way to wind down and end my career than being in a tag team with him and it just was fun all throughout the years we worked together and then not only to have success at it but to be able to entertain the people to the fullest and then to have them years after that is over to come up and say that that was the most enjoyable period of time throughout my wrestling career and what they’ve seen in professional wrestling. That’s what made it worthwhile. It was definitely the highlight of my career. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship, that would top it off. The APA.
His best memory of working with JBL as the A.P.A.: There’s just so many of them. We had a great time all the way. We had such chemistry together. We both had similar out of the ring things in common. We both had football background and we liked to go out and raise hell in bars and get in fights for real. So, it was just a natural that we worked well together and it came across well on-screen because that was us in reality and that’s what made it such a success
On how it feels to be part of a faction that still has a lasting impression on fans: You want to be remembered for something like that. That’s what you want guys and girls to come up to you and say. That’s what makes it all worthwhile. That’s what your career should be about you know and not many people get the opportunity to be involved in something that people come back years later and say “Wow why can’t they do something like that? That’s what I really love.” And the thing about it was not only when I was doing that with The Nation and myself and everyone involved. We really got into doing that. We wanted to give the people the best we could with doing what we were doing with that faction and that’s why it will have such a long lasting effect. I’m really, really grateful that it gave the people the enjoyment that it did. And it’s really an honour to be remembered like it is throughout the years
The origin of ‘damn!’: I think that started being catchy when I would go to different towns and I would be in a match and we would be doing something and I would get frustrated probably because I couldn’t pin the guy and things weren’t going my way throughout the match and they would hear me say ‘DAMN!’ and then the people in the audience just started saying it and it really resonated with them and it’s catchy because all of us at some point in our lives somebody comes along and ticks us off wether it be in traffic or whether it be your kids or whether it be someone at customer service not giving you the best treatment you just simply have to say ‘DAMN!’