Bobo Brazil Death – Stroke
1924-1998 (Age 73)
WWE Hall of Famer Bobo Brazil began wrestling in 1951, his famous name coming after a printer misspelled his name at the time. Known for his headbutt finisher the Coco Butt, Brazil battled racial prejudice, winning over even the most biased of people.
A Typo Creates a LegendHouston Harris, the man who would become world-famous as Bobo Brazil was born on July 10, 1925 in Little Rock, Arkansas but grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois. Harris trained under grappler Joe Savoldi, debuting in 1951.
Harris wrestled as “Boo Boo” Brazil until a printer’s error listed him as “Bobo” Brazil. Bobo was born and the name stuck. At the time, segregation in the South normally limited African-American wrestlers to only wrestling other African-American wrestlers, but Brazil proved so popular that promoters put aside their prejudices in order to make money.[adinserter block=”1″]
A Legendary Run
Bobo’s popularity led to high demand by promoters and fans alike, not only in North America, but around the world. However, Bobo is arguably best known for his run in Detroit’s NWA promotion “Big Time Wrestling,” where he wrestled the much-hated pioneer of hardcore wrestling, the Sheik.
Bobo and the Sheik engaged in a wrestling feud that spanned decades and spilled buckets of blood. The two often battled over the promotion’s United States Championship, but the feud was about more than a mere title, with both men working in a number of arenas as they sought to end the other’s career.
Bobo traveled around the United States and Canada, winning regional championship and even the NWA World Heavyweight Championship—depending on whom you believe.
On October 18, 1962, Brazil defeated champion “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. The belt was awarded to Bobo after Rogers claimed he suffered a groin injury. Although Brazil refused the title, doctors found nothing wrong with Rogers and the title change was upheld. Rogers defeated Brazil in a rematch, but the NWA has not officially recognized the title change.
Bobo’s list of opponents read like a Who’s Who of wrestling, with Bobo working the AWA, NWA, and WWF.
The burly Bobo wrestled stars including Johnny Valentine, Dick the Bruiser, Abdullah the Butcher, Ernie “The Cat” Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and Haystacks Calhoun. Although Bobo wrestled primarily as a babyface, he faced WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino in a rare face versus face series. Bobo even wrestled Andre the Giant to a draw, proving he was a force to be reckoned with, even against wrestling’s “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
The Coco Butt knocked down opponents and even knocked down racial barriers. In 1970, Bobo teamed with El Mongol to take on and defeat the team of Mr. Ito & The Great Ota, the first time an African-American star had performed in a racially-mixed match in Atlanta, Georgia.
Some wrestlers wither away as their careers begin to slow down, but not Bobo Brazil. Brazil mentored WWE Hall of Famer Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, and operated his restaurant Bobo’s Grill in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 1993, the originator of the Coco Butt wrestled for the last time. In 1994, Bobo Brazil was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his longtime rival, Ernie Ladd. Brazil in turn would induct “The Big Cat” the following year.
Bobo Brazil’s Death
In January 1998, Bobo suffered a series of strokes and was hospitalized. He passed away at the Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, Michigan on January 20, 1998. His body was cremated. Bobo was 73 when he died and left behind six children.