The five-year pro wrestling career of Bianca Blair Crawford, a 2019 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, reached new heights April 10 during WWE’s Wrestlemania in Tampa Bay, Florida. Under her WWE name Bianca Belair, Crawford—known for her waist-length braids and athleticism in the ring—defeated WWE champion Sasha Banks in the first title match in WWE history to feature two African American women.
“My journey feels like it has been long and short at the same time,” Crawford said in a media interview before the match. “It’s an amazing feeling to be in a title match against Sasha Banks. This [wrestling] is a perfect fit for me. This is my purpose in life. I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up since I started in 2016, but it’s paying off. It’s been a wild ride and really fun and very rewarding. The anticipation is building up. I know that to go up against the best, I need to bring all my ests—I need to be the strongest, fastest, roughest, toughest, quickest, and best in order to beat Sasha Banks.”
A Knoxville native, Crawford played basketball and ran track at Austin-East Magnet High School, winning state titles in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles in 2006 and 2007 and leading the Roadrunners to a state team title in 2007. After two years at other universities, she came to UT, where she was a sociology major and a hurdler. She was honored as the best Lady Vol walk-on in 2011 and made the SEC’s academic honor roll in 2011 and 2012.
A CrossFit competitor and powerlifter, Crawford has been featured in RX Magazine and Femme Rouge and on CrossFit.com. She joined WWE in 2016 and two years later married fellow pro wrestler Kenneth Crawford, who competes on SmackDown as Montez Ford.
Crawford made her video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K19 and is also featured in WWE2K20. Last January, a Mattel Bianca Belair action figure debuted. Her Twitter handle is @biancabelairWWE.
Brooks Clark (865-310-1277, firstname.lastname@example.org)