The Atlantic says The Rock isn't a black WWE champ

Aug 5, 2014 at 7:40 p.m. ET
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In a recent article about the lack of diversity among professional wrestlers in the WWE, published on The Atlantic's website, one minority athlete was conspicuously missing and the author of the piece is saying the wrestler was purposely left out because of his biracial background.

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The article centers around the reduction of minority figures to "grill-wearing, thuggish B-listers" and makes the claim that World Wrestling Entertainment, which is widely accepted for staging their "matches," has never chosen an African-American champ. The problem is that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, arguably one of the most successful wrestlers to cross over to mainstream success, is not so much as mentioned in the article, despite the fact that he is half black, half Samoan and held the WWE champ title a total of seven times between 1998 and 2002, according to

"In the fictional WWE storylines, being the world champion means you are the best wrestler," the article, authored by Dion Beary, states. "But in real life, it means you are the best performer. The decision of who gets to be the titleholder simply comes from a team of creative writers with the final call going to WWE owner Vince McMahon himself. Who do we want to be the face of our company? Who do we think is good enough?... In its 62 year history WWE has never chosen a black wrestler to hold its world championship."

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When confronted by fans on Twitter, Beary gave very specific and well thought-out reasoning for why he chose to omit Johnson from his piece. "What made you decide to jump over The Rock's involvement with being a black WWE Champion and dynamic character? @hashtagdion," Twitter user @RappersRActors wrote in a series of tweets that have since been removed, but can be seen in screen grab form on "@RappersRActors Rocky is Somoan and it's his Somoan lineage (first third gen wrestler in WWE) that led to his red carpet stardom," Beary replied. "I can't make The Rock a black guy just because people seem to want him to be."

Beary later edited his article and added the following statement: "The only person of African descent ever named world champion was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a special case. Half Samoan and half African-Canadian, Johnson identifies as Samoan and comes from a line of famous wrestlers. As WWE's first third-generation fighter, he was allowed a narrative that reflected his specific family history, not the mere fact of his race."