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Afro Asskicker

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"You mess with the 'fro? You got to go."
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As a result of the rise of the Black Power movement, a common fixture in Blaxploitation movies but by no means unique to them is the presence of an afro-wearing brawler or martial artist, most of whom happen to be of Black African descent. Their afros are commonly on the very large side, but fighters with relatively short afros are also perfectly viable examples of the trope. Either way, their afros are considered very much part of their appeal.

While hairstyles involving afro-textured hair have existed in some form for centuries amongst people in Africa itself and the African diaspora elsewhere, the afro proper as popularly understood has its origins in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s with the rise of the Black Power movement in general and the "Black is beautiful" movement in particular, serving as a direct rejection of Eurocentric beauty standards regarding hair. Prior to this, many Black Americans in the United States would chemically straighten their curly afro-textured hair due to it being seen as "dirty" or "unkempt" by white Americans in its natural state.

The other thing that was happening in the '60s and '70s was the rise of the Martial Arts Movie. Hong Kong martial arts films were enormously popular with black American audiences, who could often relate to the underdog protagonists in their struggles against corrupt and oppressive authorities, and who - unlike most white American audiences at the time - were already quite used to seeing characters of a different race on the screen, so it wasn't long before American studios started combining kung fu with blaxploitation; Cleopatra Jones is generally considered the first film to bridge the two genres, and the title character is very much an example of this trope. Therefore, the Afro Asskicker is frequently - though by no means always - skilled in Eastern-style martial arts.

Closely related to the Soul Brotha, an incredibly cool Black person who often wears an afro as part of their appeal, but the emphasis is more on their general coolness than their fighting ability. A Jive Turkey may have some overlap if they happen to be a afro-wearing fighter who happens to talk in a stereotypically outdated "street" manner, but is considered insensitive at best to harshly racist at worst due to straight examples tending to come off as mockingly depicting Black people speaking AAVE as buffoonish and/or inarticulate.

For afros played for comedy as opposed to badassery, see Funny Afro.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Afro of Afro Samurai has an afro and is a samurai. He slices people up.
  • Chiba of Beck, whose 'fro and musical style were directly influenced from Zac De La Rocha. Doesn't hurt that he knows martial arts.
  • Bleach: Love Aikawa ( an ex-captain Shinigami in the side of good) and Privaron Espada Gantebaine Mosqueda (for the Arrancar), though since they are technically projections of dead people the usual draw backs of long hair don't really apply.
  • The title character of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. To the point that his afro will sometimes be part of his attack.
  • Spike from Cowboy Bebop and his green, fluffy (and fitting?) Jewfro. It does not hinder him in the slightest while hunting bounties.
    • The early episode "Stray Dog Strut" has a villain named Abdul Hakim, who is a pretty overt expy for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, specifically as he appears in Game of Death. As such, Abdul has an impressive afro and hand-to-hand combat skills to match.
    • The later episode "Mushroom Samba" is an homage to old blaxploitation movies, and is chock-full of such characters, including expies of Shaft and Coffy.
  • Subverted with Aizawa from Death Note, who has Character Development and takes some levels in badass... when he cuts his afro short.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball: Anyone with an afro will be at least a overhyped fighter, if not a Fake Ultimate Hero (See: Pamphut, Chapa King and Mr. Satan). They're all Badass Normal though, just not on the level of our Charles Atlas Superpower-sporting heroes.
  • Nabeshin in Excel♡Saga is a Parody Sue Author Avatar of director Shinichi Watanabe. As such, he sports Watanabe's real-life afro and frequently drops in to battle minor villains or mentor the heroes. Eventually, he teaches Pedro and his son, Sandora to be "afro warriors."
  • Gintama: Shimaru Saito, a high-ranked member of the shinsengumi and a very competent fighter, sports an afro.
  • Ino-Head Gargoyle: After Saejima shaves his head, he wears an afro wig.
  • Megalo Box: "Gearless" Joe sports a black afro in the first season. He's also a Megaloboxer who decides to fight in Megalonia, a Megaloboxing tournament, without using Gear.
  • One Piece:
    • There's Brook, a skeleton. Even after his death his afro remained due to having "Deep roots". His hair is actually a plot point as, being a skeleton, he will be no longer recognisable to the whale he met 50 years ago except for his afro; due to him being an skeleton, it won't grow back if damaged. He does anything he can to protect his afro. Luckily for him he has all the strength of a living body with all the weight he's lost from being reduced to bones and hair, which is to say he's really strong.
    • Wapol's magistrate Kuromarimo not only had an afro, but fights with afros! They get stuck to the opponent via static electricity, whereupon his partner Chess can set them on fire.
    • Then in the Davy Back Fight, when Luffy had a boxing match, it was decided he should wear an afro wig, since that would make him stronger. It was Played for Laughs at first, but it ultimately worked.
    • There's former Fleet Admiral Sengoku, though you rarely see it as he wears a hat. He leads the Asskicking Leads to Leadership Marines and later shows that he ate a Devil Fruit that gave him the ability to turn into a giant golden Buddha-like moving statue, afro and all.
  • Garterbelt, from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, has a rather impressive afro... That he sometimes uses to hide shotguns in.
  • Mugen from Samurai Champloo. He not only goes into battle with an afro, he conceals weapons in his afro.
  • Cosmo Yuki from Space Runaway Ideon, main character, main pilot of the Ideon and proud owner of a stylish orange 'fro.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Lightning had one back in the seventies, while fighting the 100 single-handedly. Although it was actually a wig, as part of his secret identity; as schoolteacher Jefferson Pierce, he kept his hair short.
  • Blade used to wear a fro back in the 70s in all his vampire killing glory.
  • Mother's Milk in The Boys, due to his immense strength, his willingness to use it, and how many opponents he takes down.
  • In Last Man Standing, Abel has one. His pet monkey, Kane, sometimes sports one as well. And he beats things with a baseball bat while a boom box plays.
  • Misty Knight, Monica Rambeau, and Luke Cage from the Marvel Universe. Whereas Monica has updated her hairstyle each decade, Misty's afro is so iconic (she was Marvel's answer to the Blaxploitation craze), she has kept it up to the present day. Cage, meanwhile, has simply shaved his head and regards his Afro days as something of an Old Shame (though more because of outfit he wore with it than the Afro itself).
  • Red Robin: In the Ünternet Tam Fox decides to wear her hair in an afro and the imagination based powers of the place mean she's a far more effective fighter against than normal. Even in the real world she has Kickboxing and Krav Maga training but she prefers to stay an Action Survivor rather than endanger herself needlessly where the consequences are more lasting, and she usually keeps her hair relaxed.
  • Wonder Woman villain Cyborgirl keeps her hair in an afro, and as a villain who goes up against the likes of Wondy and the Teen Titans she's a bona fide asskicker.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: Soul of the Dragon: Fitting for the 70's setting, Ben Turner / Bronze Tiger has an afro and an expert martial artist. As said so by himself, always eager to whoop someone's ass.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Foxxy Cleopatra (a parody of Cleopatra Jones and Foxy Brown) in Austin Powers in Goldmember. That said, her Afro does inexplicably compress when she's forced to go diving into the villains' lair, though it just as mysteriously returns when it's time to do battle on dry land. None of this applies however to Rosie Carver, the Faux Action Girl whose role she's been inserted into.
  • Black Belt Jones has Jim Kelly as a martial artist with a killer afro, trying to protect Scatman Crothers' dojo from the Mafia.
  • The title character of Black Dynamite, a spoof on Blaxploitation movies. That said, he's technically on the side of the law, so if one complies this trope will not come into play.
  • As mentioned above, Cleopatra Jones was the first martial arts movie specifically made for black American audiences, and the title character - together with her Spear Counterpart, Jim Kelly in Enter the Dragon (see below) - is the Trope Codifier for the kung fu version of this trope. They made a sequel called Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, in which she goes to Hong Kong.
  • Coffy, the precursor to Foxy Brown. Attempt to grab her hair will just get you cut, as she stores razor blades in it just for that, and it never manages to get caught on anything.
  • Domino in Deadpool 2 is this not just from how big her afro is, but also kicking major ass during the prison transport scene while Wade's spending most of the time trying to play catch-up!
  • Dolemite, for laughs yes but an ass kicker none the less. He's basically invincible in hand to hand combat.
  • Enter the Dragon has Williams (played by Jim Kelly), who is the first male incarnation of this trope in a martial arts context (Cleopatra Jones was released a month earlier), and an enormously influential character for future incarnations of this trope. Black Belt Jones (see above) can be considered essentially an expy of Williams.
  • Foxy Brown (the character of the film, not the rapper) was not as much of an example as Coffy, as she actually did get roughed up a lot more often, but in the end she does win and does so with her fro intact.
  • Samuel L. Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction, has a Jheri curl rather than a true afro but is still a badass. Apparently they tried dozens of afro wigs and couldn't find anything they liked. They tried the Jheri curl last, almost as a joke, and decided it was perfect.

  • Frank Todd, titular character and one of two main protagonists of The Generalist, has a well-kept afro that he needs to pat down from time to time after the action has settled down.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm gives us Janet Ghebremariam, a tall and muscular student witch with a huge afro. She's ordered to complete a potentially-lethal obstacle course at her evil Wizarding School along with forty-nine other students, and she's one of only ten who actually finishes the course on her first try.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Syrio Forel from Game of Thrones, Arya's Large Ham fencing instructor. It's a good substitute for his baldness in the novels.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Anacostia's already quite a skilled fighter, and put her hair in a large afro while going to the Camarilla meeting along with Scylla. They then rescue a witch girl whom the Camarilla plan to ritually murder.

  • Jimi Hendrix had a huge part in popularizing the afro. He was also a genuine asskicker, having had much shorter hair a few years earlier as a paratrooper.
  • The Lady of Rage rocked ruff 'n' stuff with her Afro Puffs

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Congo Elandon, Ernie Ladd, Raúl Castillo, Jean Kirkland, André the Giant, Big Bad Mama, Mountain Fiji, Mohammed Yone, Carlito Colón, Louis Lyndon, Darren Young, The Human Tornado, Orlando Jordan, D-Ray 3000, The Junkyard Dog, Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Kyoko Kimura, HUSTLE Kamen Green, Marti Belle, Sugar Dunkerton, Meng, Grizzled Youth, Sabian, Abe Jackson, Rhett Giddins and The Wild Samoans were known for having these while they wrestled. Alicia Fox occasionally wrestled with an afro as well.
  • Pampero Firpo wrestled with a mix between an afro and Wild Hair. He took no care of the thing and didn't care much for what happened to it in the ring.
  • Viscera wrestled with a blond fro hawk. Orlando Colon merely wrestled a "regular" fro hawk and Mysterious Q had a shorter, more shaved version from there.
  • Amazing Kong has wrestled with twin afro puffs (perhaps getting her Lady Of Rage on, see the music section). Joseline Navarro used the look during one of Kong's "retirements" and earned herself a title shot against Kong's former Tag Team partner Jazz.
  • Princess Jana sometimes wrestled in a mix of braids and a pulled back afro.
  • The Puerto Rican Hound Dogg wrestles in a red, blue and orange afro and a similarly multicolored beard.
  • Mr. Niebla either cut out the top of his mask for one or had an afro wig integrated into his mask during his 2009 run with Peste Negra. Nothing that happened in his wrestling matches was enough to make him stop.
  • Jimi Mayhem styled his afro after Sho'nuff and not only wore it during wrestling matches but also in a fight with the Bruce LeRoy, who accepted after Mayhem defeated his client Jimmy Wang Yang.
  • While Nicole Savoy wrestles with her hair down, she once posted an idealized picture of herself on twitter armed for battle with a huge afro. Apparently it's much easier to maintain in video games than in the ring.
  • Black Rose's head got burnt while she was CWS Women's Champion, which put her off her beloved hot iron but not the ring, leaving her hair to gradually curl into a fro as she racked up defenses. She went on to straighten her hair again at times for certain jobs, but came to prefer her curls.
  • Willow Nightingale's intro includes the words, "She's got big hair and an even bigger smile." And yes, she keeps both during matches.
  • Naomi has adopted an afro as of her January 2020 return to the ring.

    Video Games 
  • Afro Thunder is among the selectable fighters Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
  • Big Wallop, a fighter in Atari's Ready 2 Rumble Revolution.
  • Mr. Jones of Power Instinct Matrimelee and Rage of the Dragons.
  • Tiger Jackson from Tekken can keep his Afro intact while playing capoeira and is no less capable than the "main" capoeira player Eddy.
  • Shinobu Jacobs from No More Heroes has a white afro, contrasting with her black skin, and is a skilled asassin.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Demoman can enter firefights with a Jimi Hendrix-style afro if the player so chooses.
  • Sazh from Final Fantasy XIII. His afro is so awesome there's a baby chocobo living in it. He is not very willing to get into fights, and has been dragged into the action by Lightning, but he can nonetheless withstand and deal out just as much damage as she does and even manages to create his own summon.
  • Pokémon Black and White has Bouffalant, a buffalo Pokémon with Afro hair. It has Head Charge, an Afro-based Signature Move which is very strong and accurate but does recoil damage to it.
    • The Japanese version makes it even more obvious that Head Charge is an afro-based attack: it's actually called "Afro Break!"
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl has Flint of the Elite Four, who has a very cool looking red afro and is a rival to region's strongest gym leader.
    • Miror B. from Pokémon Colosseum has a gigantic afro modeled after a Pokéball. He's also a Cipher Admin in the first game while he's a wandering thief in the sequel who captures the Pokémon you fail to snag.
  • Andrei Ulmeyda, killer7's Badass Normal, wears an afro. Later becomes his weak point after turning into an Heaven Smile and killing all members of the military in the area with his acidic blood. And he has the chance to One-Hit Kill you.
  • Saturno, one of the more balanced competitors from Capoeira Fighter.
  • Kid Quick and Title Defense Disco Kid, boxers from the Punch-Out!! series.
  • Todd, the butler of the Schrodinger family in Wild ARMs 3 has an afro. Unlike most examples of the trope, it is to your advantage to attack his hair; by setting it on fire, it will deal him Damage Over Time.
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, a Female Avatar with the Second/Younger Build can be given an afro as one of her potential hairstyles. If the afro's her chosen 'style, the player will have a tiny, fluffy-haired girl laying absolute devastation on the battlefield.
  • Male Octolings in Splatoon 2 can have a bulbous octopus head in lieu of tentacle hair to replicate an afro, and it has no effect on their combat performance.
  • Kodan, one of the four main characters in Fernz Gate, sports a giant afro and is the best melee fighter in the game.
  • Ichiban Kasuga of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is an unintentional example of one. After spending years in prison and being set free in 2019, he goes to a barber to get his old 90s-style punch perm back. Of course, since the style has long fallen out of fashion by 2019, the barber has absolutely no idea what she's doing, and the result is a wild, messy afro. Strangely, even though Ichiban is horrified at first and several people make fun of him for it, he never does anything about it. Nor does it diminish his fighting and leadership abilities any.
  • One of the more accessible (which is to say, lowest cost) cosmetics available to your crew of battle-hardened Dwarves in Deep Rock Galactic is a modest Hendrix-style afro. A slightly larger afro is available for more credits, and if you're willing to splurge, you can slaughter hordes of bugs while wearing a gigantic afro the size of your torso.

  • Sleepless Domain: Rue Bahia, a solo Magical Girl Warrior by night, wears a dark green afro in her civilian form. When she transforms into her magical girl form, her hair styles itself into a pair of afro puffs.
  • Unsounded: Irma Keon is a tough battlewright who coolly slaughters her way across the battlefield while liberating Grenzlan and wears her hair in a bleached white afro sticking out from beneath her gilded wright's cap.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted by Afro Ninja, a popular viral video where the man attempts to show his asskicking skills and fails miserably. Double subverted when you figure out this guy is a total badass, missed the stunt only because of jet lag, and after resting up, got the job. And in the movie based on the viral video, he certainly does kick some ass.

    Western Animation 
  • Afro-Man from Afro-Man and the Protectors of the Book of Knowledge, though he's more like a "butt" kicker, he is nonetheless the most competent superhero in a world full of them and responsible for thwarting things like alien invasions.
  • Huey Freeman and Bushido Brown from the The Boondocks. That said, Huey tends to end up losing by attrition against any accomplished adult martial artist, he nonetheless managed to outperform an sports team in a comically violent game of kick ball. A Team that has members of Black Water Mercenary Company on it. And Busido Brown, he's one of those accomplished adult martial artists, who can take on entire armed gangs with nothing but a sword and even shrugs off being electrocuted by Freeman.
  • K.O. Joe from Chop Socky Chooks is a martial-arts expert with this signature style. His comb also doubles as a grappling hook.
  • Donna from The Cleveland Show as the superhero Hot Cocoa Bang Bang. Despite only having played the role in a movie, she actually has the moves.
  • In Evil Con Carne, one of the members of S.P.O.R.K., (The Secret Paramilitary Organized Response Kommand) is Kablamity Jane, a black woman who sports a very large afro and is no less competent than the rest of the group.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016) has Green Wing, an aged, retired superhero that sports an afro. She was competent enough in her youth to impress an initially doubting Buttercup, the current age's most notorious bruiser.
  • Garnet from Steven Universe. An alien Rock Monster with an inexplicable Afro and the most powerful member of the main cast.

    Real Life 
  • Pam Grier was famous for keeping her Afro while in her many action roles. She's played everything from gladiators to gangsters.
  • George Foreman, the heavyweight champion of the world, in his prime. Muhammad Ali and Yannick Noah had smaller, compact Afros in their boxing primes.
  • One of the reasons why the Badass Biker Marco Simoncelli was so famous.
  • In addition to starring in films like Enter the Dragon and Black Belt Jones Jim Kelly was a middleweight karate champion.
  • Mixed martial artist Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres.
  • The Secondhand Bandit of Chicago robbed banks with an afro wig.
  • This one's Older Than Radio, going all the way back to the late Victorian Mahdist War in Sudan. Some of the fiercest fighters in the resistance against The British Empire were the Hadendoa people (a nomadic subset of the Beja ethnic group), known for their elaborate afro-like hairstyles that earned them the nickname Fuzzy-Wuzzy.
  • Shaina West, a.k.a. Samurider, a martial artist, actress, and stuntwoman who often wears her hair in an afro.