Okinawa Slim, a true professional and ambassador to the sport of pool. Slim is a professional artistic pool player, a Marine, and a true gentleman. Slim’s real name is Nathaniel Bryant. He started shooting pool when he was very young; his father had owned a billiard parlor as well a couple other establishments that had pool table so it comes to no surprise that by age 7 he had started playing.
Nate wasn’t even tall enough but his drive was so strong that he found boxes to stand on so he could reach the table. By age 10 he was good enough to start winning money games and would beat people and players twice his age in his father’s parlor. As a teenager he started traveling with his brother, the two young men arrived at Oakland Recreation Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they were given jobs to make ends meet. While they were working there lots of high end professional players would come through; Slim learned his true foundations as a player here. He had gotten to such a proficient level the name iceberg slim was bestowed upon him. The reason for this was not that he was a cold hearted man NO! The reason for this title is because he had remarkable focus and when he was playing he could not be distracted by anything or anyone.
Nathaniel Bryant. (Aka iceberg slim) was in his 20’s and was ready to leave once again, his brother was a Marine by this time and dared him to join and so he did just that. In August of 1977, Slim enlisted to the United States Marine Corps! After completing boot camp he was just called Slim. In 1979 Slim was transferred to Okinawa, Japan. During his time in Japan, Slim competed in several tournaments and won 16 consecutive tournaments earning himself the title Okinawa Slim!
While in the Marines, Slim was given several prestigious awards; including Good Conduct Medal with Silver Star, Navy Achievement Medal with 1 star, Navy Unit Commendation with 1 star, plus many more.
By age 22 Slim had turned pro and had one of the biggest sponsors in pool McDermott. At age 23 Okinawa Slim competed in his 1st professional pool tournament in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He competed against legends of the game including Allen Hopkins, Lou Butera, Mike Massey and Little Al Romero. He lost this 1st match and vowed to never be embarrassed like that again. Slim was and is constantly learning ways to improve his game. Through this self-determination he was able to win tournaments like the 1980 Armed Forces 9 Ball Champion.
Slim started doing practicing Artistic pool in the 1980’s. He said his favorite shot is call the delta-shot that he named after the movie “Delta Force”. Between the late 80’s and 2002, Slim was able to perform over 100 trick shot exhibitions. His career was only starting to unravel as he took second place in the BCA 12th Annual Men’s Artistic Pool National Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada! As word got out about Slim, he was reached to by directors for help in the film industry; Slim was the main billiards scene coach in the movie “Nothing To Lose”.
Slim has become prestigious in the 2000’s, receiving awards for the number one African American Trick Shot Artist in the world. Placing 25th in the 2006 World Artistic Pool Championship. The Recipient of the 2006 World Artistic Pool Championship Sportsmanship Award. First African American President to lead a Major Pool Organization. The 2006 – 2009 President World Pool – Billiard Association Artistic Pool Division. In 2006 he finished 17th place in the Masters Artistic Pool Championship don’t forget that between 2005–2006 he was the first vice president World Pool Billiard Association Artistic Pool Division.
These plus many more prestige ries have allowed Slim to grow a following and becoming somewhat of a celebrity. Slim has made a few public appearances on shows like TV Fox 5 Good Day Atlanta with Actress/Model “Ki Toy Johnson”, guest appearance on UPN Atlanta Tonight Show Atlanta, Georgia and on 91.9FM WCLK Jazz Radio Station Atlanta, Georgia. He also travelled for a guest appearance on WATN-TV Show Ladies in the Locker Room Atlanta, Georgia and guest appearance on WTAE-TV Healthy 4Life Expo Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
His latest activities will have high hopes for you that wish to see pool related T.V. shows. There’s something in the making but there aren’t any details to be shared as of yet. And as the last year he has received a Lifetime Youth Mentorship Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service, a Gold Medal Georgia State Golden Games Olympics for Billiards, and has been nominated for the Billiard Congress America (BCA) Hall of Fame.
Author: Dakotah Schmidtkencht
Photo provided by author
Editor: Shaylyn Troop