Yali Sapphire talks experiences as a black female referee and NXT

Yali Sapphire is an African American female referee with five years of experience. She has worked with independent promotions in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and NXT.

Sapphire recently sat down with Andrew Thompson of POST Wrestling to discuss her experiences in the industry as a black and more.

She acknowledged that her race may have kept her from getting some opportunities but she didn’t let that hinder her.

“Yeah definitely, she said. “When I started out, not just being black but being a female, there were times when people wouldn’t even bother looking at my skill and my in-ring ability. They just take one look at me and say, ‘No,’ and so I had to overcome that and you’ll hear a lot of people say that the only way to be successful is to get used to hearing ‘no’, but once you get over that, I mean, it’s about voicing your — not so much your opinion but letting people know, ‘Hey, I’m good at what I do. I have the ability to be the best and I’m not going anywhere.’ You just can’t give up.”

Last month, Aja Smith made headlines as NXT’s first full-time black female referee. Yali Sapphire has also worked some live events for the “black and gold brand” and participated in a WWE tryout.

“It definitely gave me a perspective on what WWE is looking for. But, it was a lot of fun and I got the chance to work three NXT live events down in Florida and got to just see how that machine known as the WWE operates.”

Be sure to check out the full interview for more insights from Yali Sapphire.

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