An Article by Mike Mooneyham
March 11, 2001
Recent comments by Ric Flair have stirred some controversy behind the scenes.
Attorney Cary Ichter, who is representing a number of former WCW performers who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Atlanta-based company, brought up Flair’s name during a court hearing in which WCW lawyers were attempting to convince the judge to dismiss 14 separate suits filed against the company.
Ichter related an incident at a WCW house show a couple of months ago in which Flair used the term “Little Black Sambo” during a segment with Ernest “The Cat” Miller in which the two were trading verbal jabs. Flair also drew criticism when he used the wrestling phrase “Jap slap” during a Nitro segment with Dusty Rhodes last week. As Flair was cutting a promo in the aisle, he stopped and threatened to “Jap slap” a fan. The phrase had not been scripted and was censored by WCW.
“Are you kidding me?” Flair remarked last week when informed of the hubbub. “Little Black Sambo? That’s a Disney character.”
Flair said he also didn’t realize “Jap slap” was off limits.
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]”A Jap slap is wrestling terminology,” Flair explained. “That’s what wrestlers do when they hold each other down and slap each other in the forehead. That’s called a Jap slap. That’s a tragedy that people are quoting that. Ninety-nine percent of those people probably don’t know what `Jap slap’ meant. I didn’t know you couldn’t say it.”
A letter sent to AOL/Time Warner by an official representing the Japanese American Citizens League urged the company to stop using offensive terms on television.
“AOL/Time Warner is broadcast all over the world and it must show leadership, responsibility and sensitivity of racial attitudes toward others … You can achieve entertaining value by avoiding the use of racially charged language. This type of racially hostile comment cannot be overlooked in light of the complacency this company has had toward racial issues in the past.”
Flair also said Miller had absolutely no objections with the promo in which he used the term “Little Black Sambo.”
“That’s so ridiculous. The problem is that maybe nobody but me is old enough to remember who Little Black Sambo is … The Cat walked over to me at lunch the other day. He first called me aside about six months ago and told me that I was his hero growing up. And then again the other day he said, `Hey, man, we had the highest quarter hour last week. I just want you to know I’m thrilled to be in the ring with you.'”
“I’ve got as many black friends in this industry … I’ve gotten along with everybody. It’s absolutely ludicrous. I’ve wrestled more black guys, put over more black guys, had fun with more black guys than anybody in this business.”
Former WCW referee Randy “Pee Wee” Anderson also has accused a number of WCW employees, including road agent Arn Anderson and Power Plant instructors Paul Orndorff and Jody Hamilton, of making racist comments.