Ron Simmons was a star nose guard at Florida State University. He finished ninth in the 1979 Heisman Trophy voting and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. He spent time on the Browns roster and later joined the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits.
He got into wrestling shortly after injuries curtailed his football career. He had some success as a singles wrestler, before becoming part of Doom, a short-lived but successful tag team. He followed that by winning the WCW Heavyweight title, becoming the first recognized African American WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
He moved to the WWF as a singles wrestler named Faarooq, but soon joined the Nation of Domination (NOD). The Rock was the breakout star from that stable.
It wasn't until he joined John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) in the Acolytes tage team, that he discovered his greatest success. Beer-swilling, cigar-smoking, poker-playing roughnecks, Simmons and JBL became very popular. Then, Simmons uttered the word that would really change his career. "Damn" was one simple word, but Simmons delivered it in timely and unusual situations. It became one of the most popular catchphrases ever. It is still highly recognizable and totally expected every time he makes an appearance.
I met Simmons at Days of the Dead, where they get kudos for bringing in wrestlers despite having no real "horror" connection. Simmons was quite popular there and I must say, he was one of those wrestlers from my youth who caused me a "mark out" moment. All I could really say was "Damn!."
Ron Simmons and me in Indianapolis, IN-July 2014.