After a 27-year wrestling career, Hall of Famer Booker T officially called it quits in 2016. Booker had wrestled for many different promotions during that span and now works for the WWE as a pre-show host to many of their PPV shows.
Booker grew up in Houston Texas with his eight brothers and sisters but did not begin wrestling until 1989 at the age of 24. After gaining enough experience, he joined WCW in 1993 where he became an instant success with the fans because of his tag team with his brother Stevie Ray called the Harlem Heat. After many tag title runs, Booker found himself in the heavyweight title picture against the likes of Vince Russo, Goldberg and Jeff Jarrett.
Booker left WCW in 2001 to join WWE as the United States Heavyweight Champion and World Heavyweight champion. Once in WWE, he immediately began feuding with Stone Cold at the King of the Ring PPV. They feuded constantly up until the famous grocery store brawl where Stone Cold covered Booker in food. After six years with of many main events and championship bouts, Booker asked for his release from the WWE.
He spent three years away from the company wrestling for TNA, remembered mainly for his feuds with Bobby Roode before returning to WWE’s commentary booth in 2011. After a few brief feuds with the likes of Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes, Booker T transitioned to a role backstage as a general manager and color commentator.
It is hard to dispute his impact on the wrestling community over the past few decades. Kurt Angle has even stated he is one of the top five best of all time.
Here are 15 things you might not know about Booker T:
15 Both Of His Parents Died When He Was 14
Talk about a rough upbringing. Booker T was raised in Houston, Texas with his eight brothers and sisters by his parents until their untimely death when he was just 14 years old. Many kids today grow up in broken homes, but it is not often that both parents are gone from their children at such a young age. With a broken home now in place, Booker and his brothers and sisters were without any real guardian to care for them.
This certainly had an effect of Booker’s upbringing because of his later encounters with the law and often being stopped by the police. He considered himself to be part of the streets until he was saved by his older brother. If he had not been forced to live such a rough childhood, he may have had a much brighter future much sooner.
14 He Was Raised By Stevie Ray
Stevie Ray was the eldest of Booker T’s siblings and raised the rest of the family after their parents had passed. Ray was 17 years old when his parents passed away, but did not fall into the street life that Booker did as a child. He cared for the rest of his siblings as if they were his own children. He gave Booker T the idea to get into wrestling and debuted with his brother with the ring name Super Collider on the independent scene in Texas.
Ray, unfortunately, did not obtain the same amount of success as his younger brother. He never made the jump into the WWE and called it a career in 2005 when he and Booker opened up their own wrestling academy. Most people remember will always remember him for inducting his brother into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
13 He Was In Prison For A Robbery
At the age of 22, Booker T reached one of the lowest points in his life when he was arrested for robbing a local Wendy’s in which he worked at. Booker and his three accomplices were dumb enough to wear their own uniforms to the robbery and made it much easier to pick them out of a line after watching security tapes. Booker pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and was sentenced to five years in prison.
After roughly two years, Booker was released from prison and was placed on parole until April of 1992. Once Booker was released from prison, he finally got his act together and began making strides to be the person who we know today as the wrestler Booker T.
12 He Worked At A Storage Company Before Wrestling
Many wrestlers worked different odd jobs before beginning their career as a professional wrestler and it was no different for Booker T. After getting himself off the streets, he needed to find a way to support himself with no real family outside of his brother. While still in Texas, he was hired at a storage company where he became very friendly with his coworkers and boss.
Although it is much easier to picture Booker T performing the Book End in a wrestling ring, he spent his mid twenties working behind a desk helping people haul their junk into storage units. This must have been a wake up call for Booker to make something else for himself before the opportunity passed. It was at this point in his life he decided to take the journey of becoming a professional wrestler.
11 His Boss Lent Him The Money For Wrestling School
Many of us have a difficult time lending someone five dollars with the fear of not being paid back, but Booker T’s boss at the storage company had faith that he was a good investment. Booker’s brother Stevie Ray approached him about joining a new wrestling school opening in the area run by professional wrestler Ivan Putski. Without much money to his name, Booker could not join the wrestling school without some help.
His boss stepped in and gave Booker the money he needed to one day achieve his dream as a wrestler. He joined the school with his brother and soon transitioned into the independent wrestling circuit in Texas before getting the call up to WCW. If he had not helped Booker pay for the school, who knows if he would have ever even made it into the wrestling business?
10 The Name Booker Came From His Inspiration Kilian Tennyson
Booker Huffman Jr. or Booker T. is one of few Superstars to use his real name once becoming a full-time wrestler. Wrestlers often change their name to hide their identity from fans finding out who they might really be. Management also has a lot to say about a wrestler’s name and will often change it if they think it is unattractive to a potential audience. Other wrestlers like Chris Jericho and Michael Cole have used their first name instead of their full name to partially keep their identity a secret.
None of these cases applied to Booker Tio Huffman. He used his first name and middle initial as his in-ring name and referred his name as an inspiration to Kilian Tennyson. It is unknown what the relationship is between Huffman and Thompson.
9 He Debuted As G.I. Bro
While training in Ivan Putski’s school, Booker T worked closely with former WWE wrestler Scott Casey to develop his wrestling personality. Since his background was a gangster/dancer, Casey helped him turn that into his in-ring personality. After two months of training, Booker debuted with the name G.I. Bro. The idea behind the name was to poke fun at Sgt. Slaughter and the Gulf War.
The Western Alliance Wrestling did not last very long, but this did not stop Booker from furthering his wrestling career. He stayed on the independent circuit with Stevie Ray until they joined Global Wrestling Federation where they won the tag team titles three times. This led to them joining WCW in 1993.
8 He Is Not Close With His Firstborn Son
Booker T welcomed twins in August of 2010 with his second wife Sharmell Sullivan. Those two boys have not had any trouble spending time with their father because of their limited work schedule. The same cannot be said for Brandon, Booker T’s first born son from his first marriage. Booker has admitted how difficult it was to maintain a relationship with his son while he was constantly on the road doing shows night after night.
Brandon began seeing his father less and less as he got older because of his intense travel schedule. The most depressing part of this story is that Booker T thought that his son was learning more about him through WCW Nitro video games on Playstation instead of real life experiences.
7 He Almost Joined WWE In 1998
Booker T spent nine years in World Championship Wrestling winning championships of all sorts during that time. His first four years in WCW were spent with his brother competing as a tag team where they were called the Harlem Heat. After winning the WCW World Television Championship in 1997, Booker received attention from then Chief Writer of WWE Vince Russo as potential talent to join the business.
Even though he didn’t make the transition to WWE until 2001, it would have been better for the entire wrestling community to see him on the biggest wresting company much sooner. He would have fought the likes of Stone Cold and Kurt Angle three years sooner much to the happiness of people everywhere. It took another three years to get to the WWE, but Booker would agree that it was well worth the wait.
6 He Is The Most Decorated Wrestler In WCW History
During Booker T’s nine years with WCW, he achieved more title success than any other wrestler in the company’s history. While tag teaming with Stevie Ray on and off for the duration of their WCW careers, they held the tag team titles ten times which was a WCW record. After proving he deserved to be in singles competition, Booker made his way into the mid-card of the WCW and began winning what seemed like endless World Television titles finishing with six reigns altogether.
Towards the end of his time with WCW, Booker T was pushed to the main event scene of WCW because of the falling out between Vince Russo and Hulk Hogan. He won the World Title at Bash at the Beach from Jeff Jarrett in 2000. By the time he had finished in WCW, he totaled 21 titles held with the company equaling the most by any wrestler in WCW history.
5 He Was The Class Clown Of The WWE Locker Room
Other than a few known disagreements with Batista, Booker T was known to get along with most of the WWE locker room. As many people would guess from his on-screen personality, he was a very entertaining person to be around and always had people laughing at him. Booker was often know for the camera zooming in on his bug eyes while he blurted out one of his normal catch phrases.
The reason for this happening so often is because the other wrestler involved in a program would laugh at the faces he would make and the camera could avoid the botch. Wrestlers like Triple H and Chris Benoit have even admitted to cracking a smile while being on screen with Booker T. With a comical act like Booker behind the scenes, it must have been hard to ever take him serious during a promo. The clip above is a prime example behind Booker's reputation.
4 He Was The First African American WWE World Champion
There has always been controversy over who the first African American champion in WWE was. Just recently in an interview, Triple H was asked about the talents of current SmackDown Superstar Apollo Crews and if he had the ability to become the next WWE Champion. Triple H answered with the rhetorical question of what happened to guys like The Rock and Booker T. Following in the footsteps of the great Ron Simmons, Booker won his only World Heavyweight title with WWE in 2006.
During his run in WWE as King Booker, he saw time as a main event star for SmackDown and won a Battle Royal to become the number one contender for a championship fight with Rey Mysterio. After Chavo Guerrero turned on Mysterio, Booker won his first and only Heavyweight title with WWE.
3 He Had A Falling Out With WWE In 2007
During the time of the accusation, Booker T was crowned King of the Ring which has been a death sentence for Superstars as of late. Sheamus lost all momentum as a main event talent after winning while Wade Barrett was eventually released after becoming King Barrett. Booker, on the other hand, made it his mission to sell the idea of him becoming King Booker. He became self-absorbed with the role and helped make the role believable for the better part of 2006 for SmackDown Live.
Just a few months later, his name was leaked to the Signature Pharmacy scandal which he was later cleared of. Booker did not feel forgiving after WWE left his name on the list and asked the company for his release, which was granted almost immediately.
2 He Owns A Wrestling Promotion
In the midst of his first stint with WWE, Booker T returned to his hometown of Houston to start his own wrestling promotion called the Pro Wrestling Alliance. Once he finally called it a career inside the ring, he spent more time building his promotion and changed the name of the brand to Reality of Wrestling in 2012. The promotion came close to shutting down in 2013, but Booker reached out to Houston businessman Hilton Koch, who helped the company become financially stable.
In February of 2015, Booker reunited with his brother and tag team partner one last time at one of their biggest events of the year. The two won the tag titles that night against the Heavenly Bodies, but vacated them a few weeks later.
1 He Is Running For Mayor Of Houston In 2019
Probably the strangest fact on this list, in December of 2015, Booker T announced on Twitter he would be running for mayor of Houston in the next election. He claimed that the people of Houston deserve to build a better life for themselves regardless of their economic situation. He also compared the Houston people to his family and how hard he would fight for them like he fought for his family over the last thirty years.
Booker T will be running against current mayor Sylvester Turner, who was just elected in 2016. It still is not clear what party Booker will run under but it is clear from his opening statements that he wants to fight for all people of Houston.