Norvell Austin is a retired American professional wrestler. Austin worked for most of his career in the Southern United States, most often in tag team competition. Norvell Austin is most famous for teaming with Sputnik Monroe in one of the first “mixed races” villainous teams seen in the south. Austin was also part of the original Midnight Express from 1981 to 1983. Later on he would team with Koko B. Ware as one half of the “Pretty Young Things”.
Austin began his professional wrestling career in the late 1960s in the Florida/Alabama area. At the time, African American wrestlers in the south were utilized in very specific ways. They were mainly restricted to wrestling other African Americans and if they were to wrestle white opponents, they were always fan favorites who could not cheat or use underhanded means to beat their white opponents. These restrictions meant that Austin worked as a face initially and mainly in singles competition since no all African American tag teams were used at that time.
In late 1971 Austin along with a man who had been fighting for equality in wrestling for a long time, Sputnik Monroe formed a tag team, what was unique for the team at the time was that they were heels (bad guys) a first for the Southern United States wrestling promotions. Norvell would dye a blond streak in his hair to match Monroe’s and even hinted that Austin could be Sputnik Monroe’s son. Together the team won the NWA Mid-America version of the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship from the team of Bearcat Brown and Len Rossi in May 1972. They’d lose the titles to Karl and Kurt Von Brauner about a month later. Winning the tag team gold was far from the only achievement Austin and Monroe had while in Mid-America, in what was a reversal of an infamous angle that saw “The Interns” paint Bearcat Brown with white paint the heel duo dropped black paint on white wrestler Robert Fuller. This lead Sputnik Monroe to state that “Black is Beautiful” to which Norvell Austin replied “White is wonderful”, something that would become a catch phrase for the team. Austin and Monroe also saw success outside the Alabama area where NWA Mid-America operated, mainly in Florida where they worked for Championship Wrestling from Florida under promoterEddie Graham. In Florida the team won the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship on October 10, 1972 by beating Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden. Austin and Monroe held the titles until November 16, 1972 where Jack and Jerry Brisco beat them for the titles.
On October 1, 1973 Austin won his first singles title when he became the NWA Mississippi Heavyweight Champion, something which helped cement Austin Novell as one of the pioneers in breaking down the racial barriers in the south. In 1975 Austin teamed up with Rocket Monroe (Sputnik’s storyline brother) to briefly hold the Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling version of the NWA United States tag team titles. After working together for three years which saw the team even tour Japan Norvell Austin decided that it was time to work as a singles wrestler ending his association with Sputnik Monroe. From 1975 Austin kept working for NWA Mid-America both the southern part of the territory that was promoted by Nick Gulas and the northern part promoted by Jerry Jarrett that would later split off and become Continental Wrestling Association (CWA). Despite wanting to wrestle more as a singles wrestler Austin was usually booked in the tag team division, teaming with for instance Butch Malone to win the NWA Tennessee Tag Team Championship. After the title loss Austin was given an opportunity to feud with his former partner Butch Malone for a brief period of time. The feud with Malone did not convince the bookers to give Austin more of a singles push but instead put him back in the tag team division with a variety of partners such as Bill Dundee, Pat Barrett and Jimmy Golden all of whom he held tag team championships in NWA Mid-America or Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling (renamed Southeast Championship Wrestling (SECW) in 1978).