When discussing the local products who've gone on to make their living in athletics, the adversity they had to overcome to reach that plateau isn't always as black and white as you might think.
Instead, some had to jump over or slide under an avalanche of issues unlike anything in existence today, which is exactly what Jack Claybourne faced during the 742 professional wrestling matches he participated in from 1931-58 according to www.wrestlingdata.com.
While there were times Clayburne took the ring under the names, "Happy" Jack or Elmer Claybourne, he also went by Black Panther or Black Dragon. As for the championships he held over the years, those included the Kentucky Negro title, the World Negro Heavyweight title and the Negro Light Heavyweight Wrestling title, and that's where the pattern begins according to www.wow.com.
Sure, Claybourne did hold the Hawaii Heavyweight title and the National Wrestling Alliance's British Empire championship one time each with NWA Hawaii and Maple Leaf Wrestling, respectively, but he also claimed the Kentucky Negro Wrestling Championship.
The excerpt that really put all of those facts in a much different light came from www.legacyofwrestling.com, which states,
"Ted Thye, a wrestling booking agent, spoke to the Department of Justice on June 9, 1955 about a host of issues. According to Stanley Disney's memorandum to James M. McGrath on June 14, 1955, which was a summary of the interview, Thye mentioned Claybourne. The report stated that Claybourne 'stopped off and worked for Karasick [before or after Claybourne appeared in Australia] in Honolulu'.
According to Thye, Karasick later claimed that Claybourne, a colored boy, had agreed to stay three weeks, but stayed only one week. Thye said that Karasick wrote him in effect as follows: 'That smart negro of yours walked out on me. I put in a bulletin to the Alliance to put him on the shelf to teach him a lesson. Disney noted that Thye couldn't produce the actual letter, but believed it occurred in 1951."
Compounding that fracture to his ego is his wikipedia page. Specifically, it states that the 6-foot, 230-pounder whose signature move was the drop kick committed suicide in Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 1960, at the age of 49.
While the bad parts of this journey probably reaches depths none of us will ever truly know, it wasn't all struggle. For example, on April 3, 2013, Steven Johnson wrote a blog that he posted to www.canoe.com that said:
"Legendary Missouri promoter Gust Karras, to whom skin color meant nothing, got Claybourne into the business and was still praising him as 'greased lightning' to sportswriter Jim Chemi in 1953. Another legit scribe grabbed a measuring tape and found Claybourne got six and a half feet off the ground when he delivered a dropkick. But my favorite description of him came from the Los Angeles Times, which said, 'As hard to pin as a rubber ball because he doesn’t seem to have shoulders'.”