This is dedicated to one of the meanest, baddest and best athletes to grace the sports and entertainment world. The professional wrestler known as Bad News Brown made waves in professional wrestling but had an impact on the sports world long before then. October 22 would be his 69th birthday, Allen Coage was made famous and remembered by being the ultimate heel in Vince McMahon’s WWF in the 1980s. Bad News Brown brought more than just bad news to his opponents in the ring, he brought a standard of athleticism. Before getting into pro wrestling in 1978, Coage had been competing as a full contact martial artist since 1961. A size and ability that would have made any physical task easy enough for him, he unfortunately could not make the same impact in the wrestling business as his real-life accomplishments show.
For those of us who remember, what is known of Bad News Brown in his stint in the WWF was that he was mean, loud, brash and backed it all up. He didn’t like anyone and he portrayed himself that way with feuds with Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, pretty much anyone he could find. Everyone, including fans, were referred to him as “beer bellied sharecroppers”. And he didn’t care. That’s what made his persona in the 1980s a great thing for the business in a marketing standpoint. But while the WWF was rich with “good guy” superstar talent at the time, it prevented him from getting any further recognition. But it’s that recognition that he already had, that many superstars even to this day would dream of having.
At the age of 18, Coage began training in Judo. Over the course of several years he worked his way up to become a fifth degree black belt. Kurt Angle and Mark Henry got a lot of attention as being former Olympians and medalist who went on to become WWF superstars, but Bad News Brown was the first American to do that. He won bronze in the 1976 games and two gold medals at the Pan American Games, not to mention a five time national champion. Judo was his passion, and he was essentially an icon in the sport. If any of that was not good enough, we can also find Coage is also in a martial arts hall of fame alongside Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.
Not for nothin’ but you have to be one bad mammer jammer if you’re literally be mentioned in the same breath as Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. The legend that is Bad New Brown was further cemented from a confrontation described by Tom Billington, a.k.a. “Dynamite Kid”. Coage punked out arguably the largest athlete in history. Thinking he heard a racist remark from Andre the Giant while they were traveling in a tour bus, Coage made the bus stop and got out to challenge the Giant to go toe-to-toe. Andre didn’t move an inch. I feel fortunate to have been able to watch a performance from Coage in a house show years ago. Sadly he passed away in 2007. But still, I salute Bad News Allen Coage on his birthday today.