Sandy Parker was the first African American woman to win a major world title. Unlike Ethel Johnson and many who came before her, Parker made it impossible to erase her accomplishments.
In 1971, she obtained her first title alongside Sue Green as the two defeated Donna Christianello and Rose to win the NWA World Women’s Tag Team Championship. However, she achieved her greatest success in Japan, where she worked with wrestling legend and former the NWA World Women’s Champion—Mildred Burke.
During her time with All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW), she became an eight-time WWWA World Tag Team Champion. On May 15, 1973, she ended Miyoko Hoshino’s 293-day reign to become the tenth WWWA World Champion. She held the title for 56 days before she dropped it back to Hoshino.
Parker retired in 1986 but she opened the door for Aja Kong and Amazing Kong, better known as Awesome Kong, to win the WWWA singles title decades later. In 1998, WWF crowned its first black women’s champion, Jacqueline, 25 years after Sandy Parker laid the groundwork in Japan.
Parker was also openly gay. This put her at odds with the controversial figure, The Fabulous Moolah, during her time at her school in the early 70s. As such, she should also be recognized for her courage in a time where she was marginalized for the color of her skin and her sexual preference. With this in mind, it’s incredible that she accomplished so much.