Remembering the night Ron Simmons made sports-entertainment history

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August 01, 2012

Ron Simmons became the first black man to win a world wrestling title on Aug. 2, 1992.

WCW President and WWE Hall of Famer Bill Watts was the captain of the WCW ship when Simmons won the championship in 1992. Watts always had the belief that the best players should be playing and he saw Simmons as a magnificent athlete with strength, power, courage, and charisma. Simply put, he did not judge Ron by the color of his skin.

Watts’ experience with yet another WWE Hall of Fame member, Sylvester Ritter akaThe Junkyard Dog, in Mid-South Wrestling had long ago proven his theory that the best men — no matter their race, color or creed — would ascend to the top of the roster.

Ron Simmons’ victory over Vader to become the first African American to be recognized by a national organization as the World Heavyweight Champion brought positive media attention to the Atlanta-based organization. I recall proudly standing in the CNN Center in Atlanta where hundreds and hundreds of fans and Turner employees filled the common area for a reception in honor of the new champ. It was a joyous day. Tears flowed and young children saw that dreams could be realized if one utilized their God-given talents, worked hard and refused to give up on their dreams.

I have been blessed and privileged to have broadcast many amazing bouts in my career, but looking back, arguably, I cannot say that I ever called one with more social significance than Aug. 2, 1992. That day, Ron Simmons proudly rose to the top of the mountain and achieved victory for the most important race of all — the human race.                

Click here to order J.R.'s famous BBQ sauce on WWE Shop and follow the WWE Hall of Famer on Twitter.

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