Hulk Hogan may be on the hot seat, but racism in pro wrestling is far from being down for the count

Wrestler Hulk Hogan rallies the crowd during Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals.

The news of professional wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan's racial tirade and subsequent dismissal from World Wrestling Entertainment has shocked and disappointed many fans who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s idolizing the wholesome character who always reminded them to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. But the focus on Hogan also brings to light professional wrestling's complicated history in the US with racial stereotypes.

American pro wrestling has long been an interesting study in its depictions of pop culture and society, especially in the way it chooses to depict many ethnicities and cultures — often times in very overt and one-dimensional stereotypes that likely would bring a wave of objections today. Despite that, it's still easy to find questionable depictions in recent years that harken back to earlier times. Here is a sampling:

1. Chief Jay Strongbow

One of wrestling's biggest stars in the 1950s and 1960s, the Chief wasn't really a chief, or even Native American. He was an Italian American named Joe Scarpa. A longtime fan favorite, Strongbow was known for "going on the warpath" in the ring when the cheering was in his favor. His gimmick included his famous finishing move: the tomahawk chop.

2. The Iron Sheik

Unlike many wrestlers from his era who portayed characters from another country, the sheik (née Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri) really was from Iran. Vaziri debuted the character in the early 1970s and has played it as an antagonist throughout his career. This portrayal was heightened following 1979's Iran hostage crisis, piggybacking on the real-world fears of many fans.

Ironically, it was Vaziri who Hulk Hogan defeated for the the then-World Wrestling Federation world title in 1983, a win that launched Hogan into superstardom. Less than the 10 years later, the two would be involved in another Middle East storyline that involved real-word issues. This time around, Vaziri portrayed the character Colonel Mustafa who, along with wrestler Sgt. Slaughter and another character named General Adnan, were sympathizers of the Saddam Hussein regime during the Gulf War.

3. Colonel DeBeers

Colonel DeBeers debuted in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1985 and was portrayed by Edward Wiskoski, who wrestled as various other characters for 12 years before debuting as DeBeers. The character, billed from Cape Town, was pro-apartheid and played on the political and racial tensions going on at the time in South Africa. Wiskoski wrestled as DeBeers until the AWA folded in 1991.

4. Kamala

Nicknamed "The Ugandan Giant," Kamala (née James Harris) was a fixture in wrestling circuits both large and small for nearly 30 years before Harris retired in 2011. Kamala was portrayed as a "wild savage" and, in some instances, as a cannibal. The character was portrayed as simple minded and never spoke, only communicating in growls and grunts.

5. Akeem The African Dream

One Man Gang becomes Akeem by Wrestlegameshow

George Gray is best known as the character One Man Gang, but for more than two years, he was Akeem The African Dream, a white man who discovered he was African and decided to embrace his African roots. That included trying to talk jive and strutting into the ring to soul music, accompanied by his manager, Slick, whose character was that of a streetwise pimp. The promo video above depicting One Man Gang's tranformation into Akeem is, to say the least, a sight to behold.

6. The Godfather

One of the most (in)famous creations to emerge from WWE's envelope-pushing "attitude era" of the late 90s was The Godfather, a pimp character who would be escorted to the ring by a line of women he called the "Ho Train." Charles Wright, the wrestler who played The Godfather, previously played another controversial character a few years earlier named Papa Shango, whose gimmick was that of a voodoo practitioner who would cast spells on opponents. Wright's Godfather character later joined forces with another controversial storyline: the Nation of Domination, a stable of black wrestlers whose group was portrayed as a knockoff of the Nation of Islam. Its most famous member was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

7. Konnan

Before finding fame in the US, Konnan was already one of the biggest wrestling stars in Mexico in the early 90s — so popular in fact that he was called "the Mexican Hulk Hogan." But not long after signing with WWE rival World Championship Wrestling in 1996, Konnan and his character were given a makeover, decked out in bandanas, khakis, flannel shirts and a love of lowriders. He was even given a new nickname: K-Dawg. In recent years, Konnan has been outspoken about the racism he says still exists in wrestling.

8. Mexicools

Like Konnan, the Mexicools were a trio of wrestlers popular on the Mexican circuit before arriving in the US. They only lasted a year in the WWE, but left a mark with their ring entrance that consisted of riding on lawn mowers. Part of the gimmick also included mocking stereotypes leveled at Mexicans in the US, making fun of them for "cleaning toilets." They would enact their "revenge" in the ring by attacking opponents with rakes.

9. Muhammad Hassan

Portayed by Italian American Mark Copani, the Hassan character made his debut in the WWE in 2004, just few years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and not long after the beginning of the Iraq War. Originally, the Hassan portrayed himself as an Arab American who was tired of the prejudice he faced after 9/11.

Hassan's early appearances included him extending his hands and praising Allah, but after complaints from Muslim Americans, this was stopped, although Hassan would continue to extend his hands in prayer. Hassan's most infamous ring moment came in 2005 when he summoned a group of masked men to beat an opponent with a steel wire and lift Hassan's partner away to safety. Several days later, the London bombings occured and the WWE was forced to drop the Hassan character after much criticism. Copani retired from wrestling after being released from his contract later that year.

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