Fighting Okra: The Story Behind Delta State University’s Angry Veggie

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Supporters of Delta State University, home of the "Fighting Okra" enjoy music at an event

College football is one of America’s great pastimes. While Division I gets all the focus, the other NCAA divisions have just as much competition and entertainment to go around.

Delta State University is a Division II school. One way the college has made a name for itself is with its mascot, the Fighting Okra. This angry veggie has participated in college athletics at Delta State University since the ’90s.

Delta State University’s official mascot isn’t the Fighting Okra

Delta State University is located in Cleveland, Mississippi. The public institution is fairly small with a student body of about 3,000. Like most colleges, it offers a variety of degrees, but it’s most known for its aviation program. Delta State was established in 1924 by Mississippi, and it has continued on for nearly a hundred years.

The Division II university is in the Gulf South Conference. The school colors are green and white, but the official mascot isn’t related to vegetables at all. Instead, Delta State University’s official mascot is The Statesmen, and this reflects the official names of the school’s teams. The men’s teams are called the Statesmen; the women’s teams are called the Lady Statesmen. 

The Statesman mascot is relatively normal. It’s just a guy in a green and white suit. He wears a green top hat with “DSU” on it. Delta State University students can count on the Statesman showing up for games, but that’s not the mascot that the people want to see. 

Fighting Okra: the history of the angry veggie

In fact, The Statesmen mascot was so boring and pedestrian to Delta State University students that they rebelled against it and created their own mascot over 25 years ago, according to the NCAA. Those rebellious students made the Fighting Okra costume and wore it to games as a way to show school spirit while also showing disdain against The Statesmen mascot. 

The school initially did not agree with the mascot. But in the end, the students won out. They loved the Fighting Okra, and the school eventually embraced it as well. The Fighting Okra is not the official mascot, but it coexists with The Statesman. That being said, the actual history of the angry veggie is not extremely clear. It’s become folklore at this point, and there are dozens of stories about how it came to be.

What is clear, though, is that current and former Delta State University students love the angry green mascot. It’s become a part of student life at Delta State University and is almost certainly more popular than The Statesmen.

The Fighting Okra was even featured in a SportsCenter commercial. Whenever the college has a big game, students and fans can count on the Fighting Okra making an appearance with its boxing gloves.

The Fighting Okra has inspired many Delta State students

Not only has the Fighting Okra become a fan favorite, but it’s transcended sports at Delta State University. The school has embraced the ferocious vegetable in almost all areas of its student life and academics. For example, it has a summer camp called O.K.R.A., which stands for Outdoors + Kids = Recreation & Activity. 

Students at the university also created a record label called Fighting Okra Records. Students run the label, which features the fighting vegetable prominently in terms of album art. So far, the student-run record label has released three albums.