Kofi Kingston released a statement on Twitter Wednesday night on behalf of his wrestling group The New Day, detailing the group’s opinion on fellow wrestler Hulk Hogan’s reinstatement to the WWE Hall of Fame.
Hogan’s reinstatement comes after a turbulent past few years; the wrestler, real name Terry Bollea, was effectively erased from all WWE websites and promotional material after audio footage surfaced in 2015 of him repeatedly using the N-word.
In a since-deleted 2012 radio interview with DJ Whoo Kid, Hogan expressed his dismay at the fact that he can no longer use the N-word—this despite the fact that wrestler Booker T used the term to refer to Hogan, which in Hogan’s mind makes it okay for him, a white man, to use the word as well.
“Well, Booker T used to do that to me, and every time I pull up YouTube there’s that famous thing with Booker T and his brother is there and they’re all talking trash, and Booker T says, ‘I’m coming for ya Hogan, you nigger’—and not ‘nigga,’ he goes ‘nigger,’” Hogan said to DJ Whoo Kid during the interview.
Hogan then went on to discuss time spent in Miami. “And everybody down there—Lil Wayne, Birdman—they’re all calling me ‘nigga,’ and then I started sayin’ it. And I always said it, but now all of a sudden I get heat when I say it, and they say, ‘Hogan, you can’t say that,’ so I say, ‘Why can they say it to me then?’”
The resurfacing of this clip in 2015 was just the beginning, however. Around the same time, Hogan was embroiled in a high-profile lawsuit against the now-defunct news site Gawker, after the site posted a clip from his sex tape with his friend’s wife Heather Clem. Funded in part by vengeful Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, the suit forced Gawker to remove the incriminating article and video, and cost them more than $140 million in damages. The site later declared bankruptcy and was shut down.
Pillow talk obtained from the unauthorized sex tape only added fuel to the racist fire; Hogan took issue with his daughter, Brooke, dating a black man, whose father was allegedly helping fund her burgeoning music career.
“I don’t know if Brooke was fucking the black guy’s son,” Hogan is reported to have said to Clem. “I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, fucking niggers. But then when it comes to nice people and shit, and whatever.”
But Hogan wasn’t quite finished: “I mean, I’d rather if she was going to fuck some nigger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall nigger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player!”
“I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking nigger,” he concluded.
This incredibly racist rant contributed to WWE’s decision to remove Hogan from all website and promotional materials, and to strip him of his Hall of Fame status.
Kingston’s statement doesn’t mention specific comments made by Hogan, instead speaking more generally to the disgraced wrestler’s behavior.
“This will be the only statement we will make regarding Hogan’s reinstatement into WWE’s Hall of Fame,” Kingston’s text reads. “We do not wish to spend the energy debating the point, because between our kids, our external ventures, and this job, our energy is spread thin enough already, lol.”
“How do we feel? Indifferent,” the statement reads. Kingston acknowledges that Hogan’s career definitely makes him worthy of reinstatement—but his racist comments have effectively ended any interaction the group might have with the Hulkster. This despite the fact that Hogan allegedly apologized backstage at the pay-per-view wrestling event Extreme Rules last week, and appears to be slowly rejoining the WWE community.
“We find it difficult to simply forget [Hogan’s racist comments],” Kingston’s statement says. “But we also do not respond with more feelings of hate. Instead, we just do not associate with the people who convey or have conveyed this negative and hurtful mindset. This instance will be no different.”
Kingston implied that the group would be open to revisiting this decision, pending Hogan’s future behavior: “Perhaps if we see him make a genuine effort to change, then maybe our opinion will change with him.”
The New Day is one of the more prominent all-black wrestling groups in the WWE, and is composed of Ettore Ewen (or Big E), Xavier Woods, and Kingston. “[Hogan’s] reinstatement won’t change anything for us,” Kingston’s statement concluded. “It will have zero effect on our ability to perform or the level of effort we will put into doing what we love to do.”
Hogan, for his part, took to Twitter after the Extreme Games last week to share his appreciation for the “love and support” he’s received from the WWE community.
“I’ve been praying for this day,” Hogan said in a tweet, adding, “I finally feel like I made it back home.”