Women’s PW remembers former WWE superstar Jean Kirkland aka Black Venus (1949-1995), an unacknowledged hero who was the organization’s only active African American female wrestler during the 1980s.
Kirkland was a pioneer and trailblazer for women, in particular African American women, in not just the WWE but the entire professional wrestling world. More widely known by her ring name ‘Black Venus’, Kirkland was a part of the industry during a time in which opportunities for African American women were sparce.
Black Venus, as she was more widely known, has rarely been mentioned by the wrestling media and never mentioned by the WWE and this needs to change. Kirkland deserves to be recognized for her groundbreaking accomplishments in the sport and should be acknowledged by the likes of the WWE and in return have her name and legacy exposed and honored for generations to come. The WWE previously released a list honoring their past and present African American female talents, Kirkland was not mentioned on the list.
Take a look back at a rundown on Kirkland’s wrestling career below, as well as videos of some of her most notable matches.
Jean Kirkland competed as a powerlifter and bodybuilder before joining up at The Fabulous Moolah’s wrestling training school. She would burst onto the scene in 1985 when she signed with the WWE, debuting in a seven-woman match for the women’s title which was held at time time by Wendi Richter. After failing to capture the title, she would continue to compete for for the organization up until 1987. During this time she notably teamed up with former WWE Women’s Champion Leilani Kai, as well as wrestling The Fabulous Moolah for the WWE Women’s Championship on multiple occasions.
Following her run with the WWE she would make a brief appearance in WCW in which she teamed with Misty Blue to defeat Kat LeRoux and Linda Dallas in tag team action. She would find her biggest success with LPWA. With the organization she wrestled alongside likes of Madusa aka Alundra Blayze. She was also part of a tag team named ‘Bad, Black & Beautiful’ along with her partner Bad Girl and manager Boogaloo Brown. The team were crowd favorites who notably challenged for the tag titles and feuded against The Glamour Girls, Leilani Kai & Judy Martin.
In 1990, Kirkland had a supporting role in wrestling movie ‘American Angels: Baptism of Blood’. In 1992 she picked up arguably the biggest win of her career, pinning former WWE women’s champion Rockin’ Robin at the LPWA Super Ladies Showdown pay-per-view event.
She would briefly return to the WWE in 1993, losing to Heidi Lee Morgan in an opening round match in a tournament to crown a new WWE Women’s Champion. The tournament was eventually won by Alundra Blayze. This would be her last appearance for the WWE before her death. Jean Kirkland sadly passed away on September 30, 1995 at the age of 46.
Black Venus paved the way for the African American female wrestlers who came after her including Jaqueline and Alicia Fox as well as current days stars including Naomi, Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. She deserves to be recognized for her contributions to the industry and her legacy honored.
Black Venus challenges The Fabulous Moolah for the WWE Women’s Championship in 1986.
Black Venus teamed up with former WWE Women’s Champ Leilani Kai to take on The Crush Gals.
A clip from Black Venus’ 1992 match against former WWE Women’s Champion, Rockin’ Robin.
A clip from Black Venus’ match against WWE Hall of Famer, Alundra Blayze.