Pro wrestling’s past can be pretty ugly.
A few things stick out in this CBS Evening News story about Ali. First off, it’s awesome that Ali’s background is being told by a mainstream news outlet. Ali is a bonafide star if WWE plays their cards right.
Getting past Ali’s history and personal life, the report then dives into pro wrestling’s long and cringe-inducing history of both racial and ethnic stereotypes. Corespondent Jim Axelrod then presents the very real scenario of Ali having to present himself to promoters as a “good guy” in a post-9/11 America.
Professional wrestling has a legacy of Arab & Muslim “villains” inside the ring. @WWE star-in-the-making @AliWWE believed he was destined for more — to show fans that one can be both Muslim and the “good guy.”— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 7, 2019
And now? He’s soaring.
Here's @JimAxelrod https://t.co/NpKRa9C9Dg pic.twitter.com/I9tHrPpvBk
“There was a young boy, maybe six or seven years old, who jumps out his chair and put both of his fists up. And it hit me like a ton of bricks right there. You just taught this kid to hate people that look like you. I never felt more disgusted with myself.”
Ali breaking down barriers is a great story to tell. It was interesting to watch how the CBS Evening News viewed pro wrestling and its past of missteps in playing up Arab and Muslim stereotypes.
Coming back from seeing his main roster push stall out after being pulled from the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, hopefully Ali gets a second chance to chase a title in 2020.