AEW News

Tony Khan Faces Social Media Backlash Following Controversial Race Comments

Tony Khan

AEW President Tony Khan has been met with an avalanche of criticism on social media following his response to Big Swole’s accusations that the company has a lack of diversity.

During the most recent episode of her Swole World call-in show, former AEW star Big Swole spoke at length about her departure from the company on November 30th and the issues she believes it suffers from, chief among these was a lack of diversity.

“Outside of [lack of structure] their BIGGEST issue, which is diversity. I do not beat around the bush when it comes to diversity and my people. There is no representation, truly, and when there is, it does not come across in the black community as genuine. At all. I don’t know why everybody is so afraid to accept it or say it, but it’s not a good look.

“What happens is, you have this wonderful company that treats people like family, but there is nobody that looks like me that is represented at the top and in the room with them. They are not helping to necessarily influence decisions, but to explain why certain slang and certain word shouldn’t be said.

“There is no one else who can explain our culture and experience except for us.”

Soon after Swole’s comments were published, Tony Khan hit back at the accusation with a controversial tweet where he pointed out that he and AEW’s Chief Legal Counsel Megha Parekh are two of the top executives in the company, and listed a number of wrestlers who had wins on Dynamite in December.

He ended by taking a more personal swipe at Swole, claiming that he let her contract expire because he thought “her wrestling wasn’t good enough”.

“The top 2 @AEW execs are brown (me & Megha)!! Jade, Bowens, Caster, Dante, Nyla, Isiah & Marq Quen all won on tv this month. The TBS Title Tournament has been very diverse. I let Swole’s contract expire as I felt her wrestling wasn’t good enough. #AEWRampage Street Fight TONIGHT!”

Since the tweet went out, many users have criticised Khan’s comments. Prominent independent wrestler Darius Lockhart, who has competed on AEW Dark several times, calling the tweet “completely disrespectful”.

“Absolutely not. This is completely disrespectful, not only to Swole, but to the black community that AEW has been consistently not listened to. I wanted to be a part of the change AEW so desperately needs but you’re showing that you’re willingly missing the point.”

Lockhart went on to explain his position more in a thread, ending by saying:

Your wrestling isn’t diverse if only white and white passing wrestlers are at the top.

“You can’t gaslight your way out of a critique that the entire community you’re allegedly serving has.”

Others have defended AEW, with the company’s Extras Coordinator, Captain Shawn Dean saying that he working behind the scenes to give “opportunities to minority talents” every week.

“Shawn Dean @AEW Extras Coordinator…my official title in #AEW behind the scenes, a black male in the office, giving as many opportunities to minority talents as I can every single week.

“On the community team…raising awareness for inner city kids any chance I get…

“The things we are expecting can and will happen…Trust the process”

Meanwhile, Nyla Rose said that, while she doesn’t know what to say in response to Tony Khan’s comments, people shouldn’t punish the performers who are giving it their all.

“Truth is I really don’t know WHAT to say rn and my head is swimming…

But I’m BEGGING y’all not to punish the performers…especially @AllieWrestling @thePenelopeFord @TayConti_ and @annajay___ who absolutely gave it EVERYTHING tonight on #AEWRampage”

H/T to Fightful for the Big Swole transcription above.