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A Wild And Wooly Look at the Early Days of Pro Wrestling in America
by Mark S. Hewitt
Deeply rooted in the Lancashire district of England, catch wrestling made its way to North America in the late 19th century and soon took the continent by storm. The anything-goes, no-holds-barred European import merged with the rough-and-tumble fighting of the American frontier to spawn one of the most lethal fighting arts ever seen – North American catch-as-catch-can wrestling. chronicles the exploits of an elite group of wrestlers who could, and often did, really put their lives and reputations on the line. Tigerman John Pesek, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Farmer Burns, Frank Gotch, Charles Olsen and Ad Santel are just a handful of the authentic grapplers in this book who took on all comers in packed arenas, carnivals, circuses, county fairs, vaudeville theaters and dirt lots all across America. The author, Mark Hewitt, describes in detail the bone-breaking locks, brutal submission holds, strangleholds and deadly moves that characterized this sport. Not all the action was on the mat, however, and Hewitt explains how the private side bets by fighters, managers, promoters and the audience contributed to the degeneration of professional wrestling from sport to spectacle. The book also contains chapters on mixed matches featuring wrestlers, boxers and jiu-jitsu practitioners; a superb collection of old photos, posters and ads from wrestling’s glory days; and forewords by old-time catch wrestler Dick Cardinal and modern no-holds-barred grappler Mark Hatmaker. Find out why catch wrestling, which is now enjoying a resurgence as a realistic self-defense system, is referred to as “America’s martial art” in this meticulously researched, colorfully recounted history of the wild-and-wooly early days of professional wrestling. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, softcover, photos, 296 pp.