|Birth name||Anthony White|
|Born||April 23, 1954|
(m. 1973; div. 1997)
|Professional wrestling career|
Tony Atlas White
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Billed weight||250 lb (113 kg)|
|Billed from||Roanoke, Virginia|
Jungles of Uganda (as Saba Simba)
|Trained by||Larry Sharpe|
|Debut||July 10, 1974|
Anthony White (born April 23, 1954) better known by his ring name Tony Atlas is an American bodybuilder, powerlifter, and professional wrestler who has held multiple titles and championships in each sport. He is also known by his bodybuilding title, "Mr. USA" (a distinction he earned three times), the nom de guerre the "Black Superman", as well as an alter ego named Saba Simba. He returned as an on screen manager for WWE, appearing on its now-defunct ECW brand. He re-signed with WWE in a legends deal in mid-2012.
Atlas started wrestling in 1974 for the National Wrestling Alliance World Wide/Mid Atlantic area. His debut, on July 10, was a tag team match with Bob Bruggers against Art Neilson and The Blue Scorpion. The match finished with Atlas winning the fall for his team with a sleeper hold on The Blue Scorpion.
Throughout his career he worked for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions, the World Wrestling Council (WWC), World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Among his regular partners were Tommy Rich (as "TNT"), Dick Murdoch, and Rocky Johnson. He was also the very first man to press slam and pin Hulk Hogan though Hogan's foot was on the rope and the referee did not see it.
In 1982, he wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Atlas made his debut in World Wrestling Federation on October 23, 1979 defeating Johnny Rodz on the taping for Championship Wrestling. One of Atlas' earliest feuds in the WWF was with Jesse "The Body" Ventura, with both arguing over who had the better physique. In 1983, Tony teamed with Rocky Johnson under the team name "Soul Patrol" to defeat The Wild Samoans to win the WWF World tag team title, becoming the first Black team to hold the belts. After losing the titles to Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch, Johnson soon departed. WWF management was prepared to offer Atlas a run as the company's Intercontinental champion, but a burgeoning drug problem led to Atlas missing dates and becoming unreliable both inside and outside the ring. His final match was on May 16, 1984 in Lacey Township, NJ.
Two months after departing the World Wrestling Federation, Atlas resurfaced in Verne Gagne's AWA. He made his debut on July 13 at a house show in Denver, Colorado and defeated Chris Markoff. At the time the AWA was being raided for talent by the WWF; this represented a swing in the opposite direction and Atlas received a push upon joining the promotion. He was undefeated against "Mr Electricity" Steve Regal, Larry Zbyszko, and Jake Milliman in July before finally being defeated by King Kong Bundy on August 11 in Indianapolis, IN. This and a disqualification loss to Nick Bockwinkel were Atlas' only defeats in singles competition. On October 10, 1984 he teamed with The Crusher and faced AWA Tag-Team Champions The Road Warriors for a shot at the titles and won by disqualification. Ten days later he teamed with Jim Brunzell for another shot at the Road Warriors, but this time was defeated. His final match with the promotion was a victory against Tom Scott on October 28, after which he returned to the World Wrestling Federation.
One day after departing the AWA, Atlas returned to the WWF at a TV taping for All Star Wrestling in Hamilton, Ontario and pinned Rene Goulet in a match that aired on November 17. Upon his return, Atlas was shunted to the mid card in the WWF and was undefeated against competition that included Mr Fuji, The Spoiler, The Iron Sheik, and Moondog Rex. He scored a win against Bob Orton and a non-title victory over WWF Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine at the Steel Cage Turmoil round robin tournament in Hartford, CT on November 23, 1984 (a predecessor to the King of the Ring tournaments that were held later in the decade as annual house show events), but suffered his first defeat on his comeback when he lost to David Shultz. This would be his only loss for several months, as he would not be pinned again until losing to Paul Orndorff on Prime Time Wrestling on March 19, 1985. At this point Atlas began to transition to a mid-card performer and would lose several matches, including bouts with Bret Hart, Greg Valentine, Don Muraco, and Roddy Piper. The company also programmed him into several short-lived tag-teams with Ivan Putski, Lanny Poffo and George Wells.
Atlas made his PPV debut in 1986 when he appeared in the Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 2 being eliminated by William Perry. He was also used as a jobber to the stars, putting over newly arriving talent like King Kong Bundy and Harley Race, as well as a series of matches with other muscle bound strongmen such as Hercules and "The Worlds Strongest Man" Ted Arcidi, the latter of which in an infamous match at Boston Garden where both men were booed by the crowd and mocked by commentators Gorilla Monsoon & Lord Alfred Hayes for their poor performances. Atlas began to be shunted further down the card, losing to Big John Studd, Iron Sheik, Dory Funk Jr., and Harley Race. His final match was a loss to Adrian Adonis in a bout that took place in Madison Square Garden and which aired on September 8, 1986 on Prime Time Wrestling.
Two months later Tony joined the Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling where he adopted the moniker of "The Black Superman". He made his initial appearance on November 11, 1986 and defeated Tim Brooks in Fort Worth, TX. On December 1, Atlas defeated Crusher Yorkoff to win the World Class World Television Championship. In January 1987, Atlas competed in a tournament to crown the Texas Heavyweight Champion, beating Tim Brooks in the opening round but falling to Matt Borne in the quarter finals. In the summer of 1987 he had almost instant success when he teamed with Skip Young to win the World Class Texas Tag Team Title. Following a match that went to a time limit draw against Al Perez, Atlas left the company in 1988.
On July 16, 1988, Atlas was appearing at a WWC event in Bayamón (a city near San Juan), Puerto Rico, where he was one of the 2 witnesses, the other being Zeb Colter to the fatal assault on wrestler Bruiser Brody. José Huertas González a.k.a. the Invader, a fellow wrestler and booker, asked Brody to go into the shower to discuss business. Brody entered the shower stall and a few seconds later a scuffle ensued, followed by two groans, loud enough for the entire locker room to hear. Atlas ran to the shower and saw Brody bent over and holding his stomach (Colter came after him). Atlas and Colter then looked up at González and saw him holding the knife. When the paramedics arrived, Atlas carried Brody downstairs to the waiting ambulance, as, due to Brody's enormous stature, paramedics were unable to lift him. González, who always maintained his innocence, was initially charged with first-degree murder but was later reduced and tried for involuntary homicide.
Atlas then moved on to Southern Ontario area in late 1988. He joined International Championship Wrestling (owned and operated by Mario Savoldi) where he turned heel and under the management of The Duke (not Pete Doherty) won the ICW Heavyweight title from Joe Savoldi. Atlas lost the belt to Vic Steamboat in Middletown, NY. But after a few months, he regained the belt from Steamboat. That match became infamous because of the number of times it was shown on the IWCCW syndicated show. Afterwards he was inactive from wrestling due to being homeless for a year and a half.
In 1990 Atlas returned to the WWF where he wrestled as "Saba Simba" for the remainder of 1990 and into January 1991. He made his first appearance in his comeback on August 4, 1990 when he pinned Haku at a house show in Augusta, GA. On August 28 he participated in a taping for WWF Superstars and Prime Time Wrestling. In his first televised appearance as Simba, Atlas's history in the company was quickly acknowledged, but Vince McMahon claimed Atlas had "rediscovered his roots by legally changing his name". On December 13, 2010, Tony appeared on Right After Wrestling and credited the Saba Simba character with saving his life as he was homeless and living on a park bench before getting a phone call from McMahon. He played a warrior of a Ugandan tribe and was intended to feud with Akeem, but the feud never took place after Akeem departed from the promotion. Atlas was kept at midcard status, losing to Dino Bravo & The Barbarian. The gimmick has been described by one writer as "unpopular at best, and racist at worst." He participated at the 1991 Royal Rumble, where he was eliminated by Rick Martel. After the Royal Rumble he was taken off TV and was inactive with the company. His last match was on September 13, 1991 at a house show in Allentown, Pennsylvania losing to Irwin R. Schyster as Saba Simba.
After he left the WWF he returned to IWCCW shortly thereafter facing Tito Santana and Vic Steamboat. He would regain the IWCCW title. He defeated Jimmy Snuka on an independent show on June 28, 1992, in Wallingford, CT.
Teaming with The Barbarian, Atlas made his debut as a heel for WCW on the October 10, 1992 with a victory over Jeff Daniels and TA McCoy. They were immediately programmed by WCW Vice President Bill Watts into a feud with Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes. He suffered his first pinfall when he was defeated by Tom Zenk in Chicago, IL on October 31, 1992. Atlas entered the King of Cable tournament but was defeated by Big Van Vader in the quarterfinals. On the house show circuit he continued his partnership with the Barbarian and received title matches against Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas, but were unsuccessful in obtaining the NWA/WCW Tag-Team Championship.
On January 2, 1993, Atlas entered a tournament to crown a new United States Heavyweight Champion following the vacating of the title by an injured Rick Rude. Atlas pinned Van Hammer in the quarterfinals. In the semi-finals he fell to Dustin Rhodes. Atlas also became part of a storyline where a bounty had been placed on rookie Eric Watts head; Atlas entered a house show series in January 1993 with the young Watts but was winless. He made an appearance on Clash of the Champions XXII in Milwaukee, WI on January 13, 1993 and lost an arm wrestling contest to Vinnie Vegas. Following a match with Steve Regal on February 5, Atlas left the promotion.
Atlas returned to IWCCW in the fall of 1993 and faced Tommy Dreamer, Johnny Gunn, Tito Santana, and Primo Carnera III. He also wrestled for the CWA in 1994, and in 1995 joined the upstart American Wrestling Federation (AWF). He teamed with Koko B Ware to face Greg Valentine and Tommy Rich for the vacant AWF Tag-Team Championship. Apart from his AWF appearances Atlas wrestled primarily with the CWA in 1995 through 1997.
He made a return to Puerto Rico's WWC defeating Dutch Mantel on July 16, 2000 at WWC 27th anniversary event. On November 19, 2005 Atlas defeated Tracey Smothers at CCW A Tribute to Starrcade in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Since 2006 he has made occasional appearances for Big Time Wrestling and Top Rope Promotions both in New England. He teamed with Bushwhacker Luke to defeat Eric Johnson and Thad Hairy Howett at UCW in Kentville, Nova Scotia on April 28, 2018. On May 25, 2018 he defeated Nathan Banner by disqualification in Pembroke, Ontario for Great North Wrestling. On May 17, 2019 he teamed with Frankie Flow to defeat Gene Snitsky and Salvatore Sincere at East Coast Pro wrestling in Manville, New Jersey.
Atlas made a surprise return to the WWF on the March 10, 1997 edition of Monday Night RAW. Following a victory by Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia over Tony Roy, Atlas came out of the crowd to congratulate the son of his former tag-team partner Rocky Johnson. One week later he appeared on RAW again, this time holding Maivia back from attacking The Sultan. At Wrestlemania 13 he was spotted in the crowd and cheering for Maivia. Atlas was shown on RAW once more, again cheering for Maivia on the March 31 edition when Maivia wrestled Bret Hart.
Atlas appeared on the July 8, 2008, airing of ECW where Theodore Long appointed him the special guest ring announcer for the main event featuring Tommy Dreamer with then-babyface, Colin Delaney in his corner against then-heel, ECW Championship Mark Henry. Atlas attacked Delaney, which in turn distracted Dreamer, allowing Henry to gain the victory. Atlas then announced Henry the winner of the bout, although the official result was a double countout. This is also the first time since his brief stint in WCW in 1992 that Atlas has worked as a heel, as he would then become Henry's manager.
Atlas helped Mark Henry retain his title at SummerSlam by disqualification, attacking Matt Hardy once a win by Hardy appeared to be imminent. Atlas also helped Henry retain his championship on the August 19, 2008 episode of ECW against Hardy. At Unforgiven, Henry lost the title to Hardy. On the December 9 edition of ECW, Atlas wrestled in a WWE ring for the first time in 17 years (along with Mark Henry) in a tag team match, where they defeated Finlay and Hornswoggle. He also wrestled Evan Bourne on the June 9, 2009 episode of ECW in a losing effort. Henry was then traded to the Raw brand on June 29, quietly ending their alliance. Atlas would continue to appear on ECW during The Abraham Washington Show as Abraham Washington's sidekick, until ECW went off air in February 2010.
Atlas was released from his WWE contract on April 30, 2010. However he still made sporadic appearances with the company; he made a brief appearance on the Old School Raw episode on November 15, 2010. On December 12, 2011, he made a brief appearance to co-present the Slammy Award for "Trending Superstar of the Year." On April 10, 2012, Atlas made an appearance on WWE Smackdown: Blast from the Past.
ATLAS: Too Much...Too Soon
1This promotion is not to be confused with the NWA Tri-State promotion founded by Leroy McGuirk in the 1950s. This promotion would eventually be taken over by Bill Watts in 1979 and renamed Mid-South Wrestling Association. The promotion would eventually be renamed Universal Wrestling Federation.