In wrestling there are many stereotypes, especially for a black performer. You could be the high-energy preacher type, the gang banger, the savage animal. For Steve Wilson becoming Kongo Kong was a struggle against all that he believed in.
“When I was four, I wanted to be Hulk Hogan,” remembered Steve Wilson. “He was a good influence and I wanted to be that too.”
A lifelong fan of wrestling, the 6-foot-6, 346-pound Wilson decided to join the grappling game one summer when he came home from university.
“I had been playing football at Saginaw State University and I saw a poster advertising wrestling matches and a wrestling school.” He began his training under Joe Ortega who had been an acolyte of Jose Lothario.
He enjoyed wrestling and soon left football for the ring. Over the next few months he developed a character that resembled his hero Hulk Hogan with a bit of Big Van Vader mixed in. The character Wilson created, Osyris, entered the ring in October 1998 and had a punishing, tough style. “I wanted the character to be afro-centric, and the people saw that I am a guy they could relate to,” remembered Wilson. “The fans got behind this super-hero persona and they believed in him.”
His career changed one night when he took a booking with Juggalo Championship Wrestling which is run by the Insane Clown Posse. “When I got there, Violent Jay wanted me to paint my face and be a non-talking monster,” related Wilson with some trepidation. “I looked at the booking sheet and Osyris wasn’t on it. Kongo Kong was on it.”
Wilson decided that he would honour his booking. He dreaded being the next Kamala, a black wrestler who was mute and fought his opponents with the savagery of a Wildman. “I didn’t like the gimmick because it was a stereotype,” said Wilson. “Osyris wasn’t that guy. I didn’t want to be a dumb savage. Then I thought that the Ultimate Warrior was a savage but he talked. I could still be ring savvy and be a savage.”
Wilson, who works with mentally and physically challenged people in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is not the sort of person who gives up when his way is blocked. “I decide to mix in elements of Umaga, Undertaker, Bam Bam Gordy into my style. I liked the agile big men.” By using his natural athletic talents, Wilson was able to transform Kongo Kong into a ring smart, agile big man that still had a savage look and didn’t talk.
Jesse Scott, owner of Neo Wrestling Federation in Niagara Falls, Ontario, loved having Kongo Kong at his event. “When he comes through the curtain he brings the wow factor. People are intimidated. Then he backs it up in the ring. He is super agile, a true specimen in the ring. Hands down one of the best big men I have ever seen in a ring.”
Kongo Kong has been receiving the majority of Wilson’s bookings these days. “Osyris stays busy around Indiana,” said Wilson. “I had to accept Kongo Kong bookings because of the difference in pay and exposure.”
Tyson Dux, an independent wrestling icon in Canada, brought in Wilson to compete for Border City Wrestling in Windsor, Ontario. “We had seen clips online of his abilities and size and thought he would be a perfect fit. We didn’t know however how truly awesome he would be,” Dux said.
Dux was awestruck by the reaction of the crowd to Wilson’s alter-ego Kongo Kong. “The crowd could not get over his size and athleticism. We received numerous messages about him and are happy to make him a main stay. On a professional level the man is fantastic and great to work with. Being on tour with him and knowing him on a personal level, he is just an all-around great guy. I can’t say enough good things about Kongo.”
Over the course of his 16-year wrestling career, Wilson has taken pride in his craft. “I want to convince fans that I’m killing my opponent. That lets me know I am doing a good job.” Wilson brings a hard hitting style to the ring but, he is willing to adapt to his opponent big or small.
Steve Wilson took a character that could have been a stereotype that demeaned him on a personal level. Instead he has turned Kongo Kong into an athletic marvel that awes the fans with his intelligent skill set and brutally physical attacks that are sure to bring him to an arena near you.