Bianca Belair: 6 Awesome Facts About The Raw Women's Champion

Bianca Belair in a WWE promo package
(Image credit: WWE)

In February 2020, we published an article breaking down six up-and-coming female WWE superstars that could one day lead the Women’s Division. Near the top of that list was Bianca Belair, who, at the time, we called a “star in the making.” Three years later, Belair is not only a multi-time Raw Women’s Champion and Royal Rumble winner, she’s also one of the most beloved wrestlers in the world, with multiple accolades, decorations, and outstanding matches.

As we look toward the future for one of the WWE’s biggest and brightest stars, especially with another major WrestleMania match on the horizon, it also wouldn’t hurt to take a look at Belair's career up to this point and the various accomplishments of hers that have propelled her to superstardom in a surprisingly short amount of time. Here are six awesome facts about the incredibly entertaining Bianca Belair, the EST of WWE, the Raw Women’s Champion. 

Elimination Chamber 2022

(Image credit: WWE)

Bianca Belair Was An All-SEC Track Star At The University Of Tennessee 

Long before she was main-eventing WrestleMania, setting records in the Royal Rumble, using her trademark ponytail to beat the crap out of Becky Lynch, or even thinking about becoming a professional wrestler, Bianca Belair, whose real name is Bianca Blair Crawford, was a standout collegiate hurdler at various colleges throughout the American South. In a 2017 ESPN (opens in new tab) profile on Belair, it was pointed out that Blair spent parts of her six-year track career competing for the University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, and the University of Tennessee, where she became an All-American and All-SEC athlete for her accomplishments on the track.

But as she told ESPN in the sprawling chronicle of her athletic career, Belair didn’t have aspirations of continuing her track career as a professional athlete, describing it as a chapter she “needed to close and move on from.”

Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 37

(Image credit: WWE)

After A Medical Condition Sidelined Her Crossfit Dreams, Belair Was Given A WWE Tryout

Once she finished her track career at the University of Tennessee, Belair initially set her sights on the CrossFit workout craze, going as far as the regional circuit before being sidelined by a condition called shifting rib syndrome. Belair told ESPN (the same profile as above) that nothing could be done about it, though she went to “a million doctors and chiropractors” in search of a cure. When one door closed, however, another opened for the future WWE world champion.

When speaking at Front Office Sports’ “Trailblazing Pros on Breaking Barriers” panel (via Pro Wrestling Illustrated) in June 2022, Belair explained that her fortunes changed when WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry contacted her saying he could get her a tryout. Though Henry was impressed with Belair, he made it clear that there would be no favors and she’d have to earn her spot. She did just that after two tryouts. 

Bianca Belair on Monday Night Raw

(Image credit: WWE)

Bianca Belair Is The Longest Reigning African-American World Champion In WWE History

At the time of this writing, Belair has been the Raw Women’s Champion for a little more than 300 days, placing her behind only WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns (800+ days) when it comes to longest-reigning current champions, according to WWE. Not only is this put Belair near the longest reigning Raw Women’s Champion (that honor still belongs to Becky Lynch), it also make the EST of WWE the longest reigning African-American World Champion in the company’s history.

Back in October 2022, when Belair crossed the 200-day mark, WrestleOps (via Fightful) pointed out that her reign, which started at WrestleMania 38 that April, was the longest single reign by an African American singles world champion in the company's history. This means she eclipsed names like The Rock, Mark Henry, and Belair’s longtime rival, Sasha Banks. Speaking of which…

Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 37

(Image credit: WWE)

Bianca Belair And Sasha Banks Became The First African-American Women To Main Event WrestleMania

After spending more than a year behind closed doors, WWE finally opened up to fans with the two-day WrestleMania 37 in April 2021, which provided an incredible weekend of wrestling and some of the most iconic moments in recent memory. This included the SmackDown Women’s Championship match between defending champion Sasha Banks and challenger Bianca Belair, which ended up being a near-perfect match and an incredible way to close out the first night of the event.

On top of that, the match ended up becoming part of history, as it was the first time in the history of WrestleMania where two African-American women faced off in the main event, according to WWE

Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 38

(Image credit: WWE)

Pro Wrestling Illustrated Named Bianca Belair The Top Female Wrestler In The World In 2021

Each year, Professional Wrestling Illustrated publishes the PWI Women’s 150 (the same concept as the PWI Men’s 500) highlighting the best and brightest female wrestlers in the world. In 2021, five years after making her professional debut, Belair was named the best female wrestler in the world, beating out the likes of Utami Hayashishita, Deonna Purrazzo, Britt Baker, and Thunder Rosa in the Top 5. 

The following year, ESPN (opens in new tab) named Belair “Female Wrestler of the Year” in its annual wrestling awards. In the breakdown of her 2022, which included an outstanding pair of matches against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 38 and SummerSlam, ESPN writer Marc Raimondi described the Raw Women’s Champion as “an up-and-comer no longer,” instead referring to her as a “full-fledged superstar.” 

Bianca Belair in WWE Chronicle: Bianca Belair

(Image credit: WWE)

Bianca Belair Has Been Vocal And Honest About Her Mental Health Struggles

The topic of mental health in sports has become a major point of focus in recent years, especially when gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of the 2021 Olympics due to mental strain. During an August 2021 appearance on Out of Character with Ryan Satin, then-SmackDown Women’s Champion Belair opened up about her own struggles as a college athlete and the track coach who put her mental health above everything else: 

I was going through depression, eating disorders, and I was like in a mental hospital, and I remember I got out and he told me, ‘You can’t run this year, you have to go see a psychiatrist, and until they clear you, you’re not clear to run. So they benched me for my mental health, they put my mental health before my athletic performance. He put me as a human being before being an athlete.

Belair went on to further applaud Biles for having the strength and courage to stand up and show the world that athletes are humans and that mental health is so important.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the woman, life, and stories behind Bianca Belair, the EST of WWE. If you want to see her in action, either previous matches or at any of the upcoming WWE events, you can do so with a Peacock Premium subscription, which gives you access to thousands of hours of wrestling content from yesterday and today.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.