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Christopher "Chris" Chavis (born June 8, 1965), is a Native American professional wrestler best known for his work with World Wrestling Entertainment as Tatanka from 1991 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2007. His ring name is a Lakota word that literally means "bull buffalo." He is descended from the Lumbee Native American tribe.


Early career

Chavis started competing in powerlifting, he competed in his first bodybuilding contest, Mr. Virginia Beach, placing second. He won many competitions during his time in bodybuilding, but decided against competing on the national level and possibly turning pro for personal reasons.

From 1985 to 1990 he worked for Bally's Health and Tennis Corporation. He was quite successful, becoming a Divisional Manager.

In 1987 he received many tryouts for the National Football League, from teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, and the Los Angeles Raiders. He decided to pursue a career with the Dolphins. Chavis was one of 20 hopefuls offered a deal out of approximately 2,000 tryouts. The Dolphins offered him a free agent contract with the availability to increase after the first year. He declined, however, since his income at Bally's exceeded the value of the contract.

In 1989, Chavis left Bally's to pursue a wrestling career. "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers was his contact into the sport. They met in Floridamarker at a video store while Chavis was looking for wrestling tapes. Rogers had Chavis call Larry Sharpe, who ran a wrestling school in southern New Jerseymarker called "The Monster Factory." Sharpe had previously trained such wrestlers as Bam Bam Bigelow and The Godfather. Tatanka's first match came against Joe Thunderstorm in Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker on January 13, 1990. After coming back to Buddy Rogers, he took Chavis to George Scott, the booker for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) during the 80's Hulk Hogan era.

Scott was starting his own promotion called the North American Wrestling Association, later known as South Atlantic Pro Wrestling. Chavis wrestled under the name "The War Eagle" Chris Chavis, and he was voted 3rd runner up for Rookie Of The Year in Pro Wrestling Illustrated for 1990. Also in 1990, he became The South Atlantic Heavyweight Champion by beating Ken Shamrock. Not long after, he was signed to a WWF contract.

World Wrestling Federation (1991–1996)

Chavis made his debut into the WWF in late 1991 under his given name. He took on the name Tatanka soon afterwards. During his WWF run, Tatanka was best known for accumulating a significant undefeated streak nearly two years long, defeating many major names such as Rick Martel and Shawn Michaels and winning the 1992 Bashed in the USA 40-man battle royal. Tatanka was also known for his war dance, the Lumbee tribal war cry that preceded his entrance to the ring, and a red stripe dyed in the middle of his hair.

On September 28, 1993 he suffered his first defeat in the WWF, losing to Ludvig Borga (Borga had hit Tatanka in the back with a steel chair while Mr. Fuji distracted the referee). After the match, he was attacked by WWF Champion Yokozuna, and was subsequently out of action for three months. When he returned, he received his only WWF Championship match, losing to Yokozuna.

Tatanka was honored by previous Native American professional wrestlers Chief Jay Strongbow and Chief Wahoo McDaniel and Lumbee tribesman Ray Littleturtle on an edition of Raw. Littleturtle presented him with a full length Lumbee tribe Chief Headdress. Tatanka engaged in a storyline feud with Irwin R. Schyster, who insisted he pay a gift tax on the item, while Tatanka insisted his Lumbee heritage afforded him tax deductible privileges. Strongbow briefly served as Tatanka's mentor and manager during the duration of the feud.

After years as a face, he turned heel against Lex Luger at SummerSlam 1994, joining Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation.

Tatanka left the WWF in the summer of 1995, citing family and spiritual issues. Since the WWF workload at the time topped 300 shows a year, Chavis had little time for his family. At the time, the WWF and major rival World Championship Wrestling (WCW) were in a major talent war, and WCW President Eric Bischoff offered him a lucrative deal, but Chavis declined. He continued to appear for independent promotions, which allowed him to continue to wrestle while maintaining a lighter schedule. He also made a one-night WWF return to appear in the 1996 Royal Rumble.

Independent Wrestling (1997)

In 1997 Chris Chavis wrestled for the independent New York based promotion Ultimate Championship Wrestling or UCW, where he wrestled with the likes of Bruce Hart of the world renowned Hart wrestling family, Falcon Coperis Louis Velazquez, King Kong Bundy, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and Marty Jannetty. He went from a playing the role of a face to a heel when he turned on Falcon Coperis and Tommy Cairo to align himself with the likes of the UWF faction of the organization which included Jim Neidhart, Bruce Hart, and eventually Marty Jannetty.

In 1997 Chris Chavis captured the UCW Heavyweight Championship title and handed then champion Falcon Coperis Louis Velazquez, his first championship defeat, Chavis left champion when the organization folded its professional wrestling division in 1998.

Return to WWE (2005–2007)

On August 1, 2005 Chavis returned to Raw as a face once again which was intended to be a special one-time appearance to face Eugene in the "Eugene Invitational", a 3-minute match with Kurt Angle's Olympic gold medal on the line. Tatanka lost the match when Angle attacked Eugene with 27 seconds remaining, causing a disqualification. He mentioned on his website afterward that he loved being back in a WWE ring and hoped someday to return.

Chavis returned to a full-time schedule for World Wrestling Entertainment as "Tatanka" at the tail end of 2005, debuting at a December 27 house show, teaming with then-babyface, Shelton Benjamin in a win over Carlito and Jonathan Coachman. He returned to television in the Royal Rumble match at the January 2006 event, where he was eliminated by Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro. The next month he began appearing on Velocity before being moved full time to the SmackDown! brand.

As a face, Chavis teamed with then-babyface, Matt Hardy to defeat MNM, the then-Tag Team Champions, in a non title match at No Way Out. They were granted a title shot on the next edition of SmackDown!, but lost.

On the April 28 SmackDown! a vignette played announcing that "a new warrior would soon be forged in Tatanka." Over the next three weeks footage aired of Tatanka being (legitimately) adopted into the Oglala Sioux Tribe(Lakota), which is considered a huge honor. When he returned to wrestling Tatanka defeated Simon Dean with his new finisher, "Wakinyan" (from the Lakota word for "Thunder").

Tatanka engaged in a mini-feud with Sylvain Grenier, trading victories with him, before he was moved into an angle where he entered into a losing streak due to, what he perceived to be, bad decision-making by referees during his matches. This escalated until the October 27 SmackDown! when Tatanka, alongside partner Bobby Lashley, lost a match to William Regal and Dave Taylor when Regal pinned Tatanka by illegally using the ropes. After the match Tatanka argued the decision again, then he turned heel by attacking the referee, then Lashley when he tried to calm him down. The next week he appeared on SmackDown! with a new style of warpaint, covering the top of his face in black and the bottom in white, and cut a promo on Lashley saying he owed neither him nor the crowd an explanation for his actions. He compared his recent losing streak to the years of persecution that his people had suffered over the years and said that he "called upon his forefathers to unleash a new warrior in [him]".

He asked for and was released from his WWE contract in January 2007, but not before ending his losing streak by defeating Jimmy Wang Yang, his first victory in months. noted this event with these parting words: "Tatanka is an accomplished veteran of the squared circle. The Native American made a splash upon his entrance to the WWE in the early 90s, remaining undefeated for 2-years." Tatanka stated on his official website that he requested to be released and mentioned he was not done with WWE as he would like to return someday. WWE included him in part of the major budget cut of released talent.

All Star Wrestling

Tatanka is currently wrestling for All Star Promotions in the United Kingdom and plays as a Babyface. He competed in All Star and American Wrestling between August 29 to October 31 2008 in The Tower Circus area of Blackpool Tower.

Personal life

Chavis is a born again Christian. He is married to his wife Michelle, and together they have two daughters, Christiana and Rhea, and a son, Joseph Tatanka Chavis. From 1998 to 2002, he was represented and booked by Vin Gopal, now a Washington D.C. political consultant. Gopal also promoted his columns and articles in the media.

Tatanka appears briefly in the movie Natural Born Killers, as Rodney Dangerfield's character is watching wrestling on T.V.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
    • End of the Trail / Indian Death Drop / Papoose to Go (Samoan drop, sometimes catching an opponent thrown into the ropes)
    • Wykea (Swinging side slam) - 2006-Present

Championships and accomplishments

  • American Wrestling Federation
*AWF United States Championship (1 times)

*i-Generation Australasian Heavyweight Championship

  • North American Wrestling Association
*NAWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

  • South Atlantic Pro Wrestling
*SAPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

*Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

*USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

*PWI ranked him # 279 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the PWI Years in 2003

  • International Wrestling Superstars
*Wrestler of the Year in 2003

*ASW Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Joe Gomez
*CWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*TRCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*UCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*DWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*Covey Pro Heavyweight Championship (1 time)


  • Christian Wrestlers: Wrestling With God, 2001, by Chad Bonham, ISBN 1-58919-935-9



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