This edition of the WWE Hall of Famers Blog features James Dudley.
Birthday: September 18,1911
Death: June 1,2004
Retired: January 4,2002
Inducted by: Vincent K. McMahon
Before his stint in professional wrestling, James Dudley first dabbled in the world of Baseball. He competed in the Negro League Baseball and was considered an excellent athlete when he ran the 100-yard dash in under ten seconds on multiple occasions. He signed with the Baltimore Elite Giants at the age of 27 and got the nickname "Big Train." He remained with the team until leaving for pro wrestling in 1945, in total he played 60 games in the Negro leagues.
In the 1950's he began working for Jess McMahon, co-owner of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. When McMahon left the NWA to form the WWWF, Dudley continued to work under him. He did many jobs such as carrying buckets of water and counting ticket sales, he was close friends with Vince Sr. and when he took over the WWWF, Dudley resumed his job for the family as a limousine driver and bodyguard.
Later on Vince Sr. would assign him a task to manage Turner's Arena in Washington D.C. making him the first African-American to run a major arena in the US. Around this time he also acted as a manager for African-American wrestlers such as Bobo Brazil,Bearcat Wright,Sweet Daddy Siki,and "Sailor" Art Thomas.
Before Vince Sr. passed away he told his son Vince K. McMahon to take care of James Dudley and that he did. At the age of 74, James Dudley continued receiving paychecks and gifts from Vince Jr. as a token of appreciation for his years of loyalty to the family. In 1994 he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.
Dudley's final appearance with the company was at an episode of SmackDown on January 4,2002 where it took place in his hometown of Washington. On June 1,2004 he sadly passed away at the age of 94.
A lot of fans are probably not even aware of him and I can't blame you since he played a bigger role backstage than on-screen, and no he is not related to The Dudley Boyz. He is often considered as an undeserving member of the Hall of Fame, and while that may be harsh I think I agree to a certain extent.
Sure he did break down barriers by being the first African-American to run a major arena but besides that what else has he done for pro wrestling? He did manage some notable names but those wrestlers were already over to begin with and did not need managers.
I see his induction into the Hall of Fame as more of a "thank you" for his decades of service and loyalty to the McMahon Family. That's cool and all but is it really Hall of Fame worthy? Not for me.
Thanks For Reading.