New Releases for Paperback and Kindle

Last week saw one new release in paperback and two Kindle releases from Eat Sleep Wrestle!

First up is the bedtime story “Good Night Ninja,” a collaboration between myself and my long-time friend Hy Zaya. Hy has always enjoyed sneaking selfies with sleeping passengers on wrestling road trips, and we decided to turn these delightful photos into a children’s book. Mad Man Pondo, Referee Man Bun, Jason Saint, Tyler Matrix, and Shane Mercer are just a few of the supporting characters in this short story.

Next up, the biography of Lord Leslie Carlton has finally come to Kindle. Kindle readers get all the same stories and images as paperback readers with one added bonus: the photos of Lord Carlton’s artwork inside the book are in color! 

Finally, I rereleased Louisville’s Greatest Show for Kindle over the weekend. This is actually an updated version of the book with expanded biographical profiles of Stu Gibson, Elvira Snodgrass, Blacksmith Pedigo, and “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell. The paperback edition was quietly updated as well, so if you haven’t yet read my favorite book out of the bunch, this is the time to do so!

Meet Mad Man Pondo and Hurricane JJ Maguire on November 3

November 3 is the first annual Rich City Comic and Pop Con in Richmond, Kentucky, and Eat Sleep Wrestle will be there. Joining me for this special event will be Mad Man Pondo and “Hurricane JJ” Maguire.

Mad Man Pondo is a deathmatch legend, a JCW Hall of Fame who released his autobiography “Memoirs of a Mad Man” this past summer. Pondo will be signing books and taking photos with fans as well as promoting his own Girl Fight Wrestling promotion.

“Hurricane JJ” Maguire is an unsung legend, the composer and co-author of over 100 wrestling themes. Maguire partnered with Jimmy Hart on songs like “Sexy Boy,” “Honky Tonk Man,” and the song from Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s wedding, “Together.” He also appeared in our recent short film, “War Chant Eddie.”

The Rich City Comic and Pop Con takes place at the Richmond Mall, and admission is free. Come meet Pondo, JJ, and myself and see all the other amazing vendors.

And be sure to “meet” my old pal Clive the Zombie at the Moturoais booth.

What Was the Best Thing about Starrcast?

What were the best things about Starrcast 2018? Everyone has their own list, but here’s mine in no particular order (save the last one).

Hanging out with Randy Pease – an old friend who is the reason I started writing about wrestling in the first place.

Watching Macauley Culkin thumb wrestle Scott Steiner.

Meeting Dr. D’s fans.

Meeting Mark James.

The Katie Vick photo op at the Wrestlecrap booth.

Hanging out with the Wrestlecrap crew.

Meeting Bill Apter.

Watching Road Warrior Animal push Lex Lugar around in his wheelchair.

Seeing Erik Hodson’s amazing wrestling art work everywhere.

Meeting Jerry Lynn.

Seeing my friend and fellow author Brennon Martin again.

Visiting with some amazing podcasters, both those broadcasting and those just attending.

Joey Ryan shaking Dr. D’s hand.

Meeting Haku.

Shooting a video with Hurricane Helms.

And the absolute #1 best part of all – the amazing staff of volunteers who made the event possible. I’ve been to many comic cons and fan fests the last 10 years, and by far, Starrcast had the hardest working, most helpful, most responsive volunteer crew I’ve ever seen. Yes, there was congestion and chaos, but these amazing workers kept the gears moving, and everyone had a good time. They are the #1 reason I would recommend this event to any fan or vendor or wrestler considering where to invest their time and money in 2019.

Because you know, where there’s an ALL IN 2, there will be a Starrcast 2!

The Past Matters to Starrcast Fans

When Cody Rhodes received the ten pounds of gold, the belt his father Dust once held, it was Earl Hebner who handed it to him.

When Tessa Blanchard took the ring Saturday for the women’s match, Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA were waiting to wish her well at ring side.

Hangman Page and Joey Janela wrestled under the watchful eye of ECW legend Jerry Lynn. Tiger Hattori called the match for Marty Scurll and Kazuchika Okada. And it was the Macho Man’s own brother Lanny Poffo, Frisbees in hand, who unleashed “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal upon the Sears Centre Saturday night.

It was no surprise to me that the past mattered to the ALL IN crew. Cody is well known reverence for his father and days before wrestling was all about the WWE. What impressed me most this past weekend in Chicago was how many fans hold the past with the same regard.

Going into the weekend, I was very excited to meet Bill Apter and see not only the men and women who made wrestling great but the reporters and writers who have covered it for so long. It was no shock when my mouth dropped open as an elderly photographer introduced himself to Doctor D as George Napolitano. I love these people. That’s why I do what I do. But I know not every wrestling crowd is as enamored with the sport’s history as I am.

I honestly wasn’t sure how the Starrcast crowd would receive guys from wrestling past. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I saw it in all the fans who stopped by to say hello to Doctor D. Podcasters like the hosts of the Lapsed Fan Podcast and Internet wrestling reporters like “Docta D” from D.C. stopped by to show their appreciation and of course, buy “the best book ever written about rasslin’.” There were fans who traveled from all over the country and even as far as Amsterdam to come and say hello to the Doctor. We sold out every unsigned copy of the book we brought with us and were selling pre-signed books right up until the Doctor packed for home.

Fans who insisted in buying books included the aforementioned Jerry Lynn and Hurricane Helms. Shannon Moore, who we met three weeks earlier in Huntsville, Alabama, stopped by to say hello, and say what you will about Joey Ryan, but he went out of his way to shake Doctor D’s hand and say what a big fan he was.

I saw respect for the past in the line that quickly formed and helped Bill Apter sell out of the 20 copies of his book he brought with him. “My wife said I should bring more,” he said mid-way through the sales blitz. “I guess she was right!” I hear the other writers at the show did a brisk business as well, including the guys in the basement vendor hall. RD Reynolds at Wrestlecrap sold out of his inventory completely.

It was hard to miss the respect heaped upon the legends lined up at Starrcast. From Sgt. Slaughter to Ron Simmons, everyone had a line of fans waiting to say hello and take a photo. Haku was mobbed when he sat down to sign with his two sons on Saturday morning. Haku was also one of the most lovable, likable people I’ve ever met in this business – which somehow makes the legends of his toughness all the more terrifying!

Perhaps the best sign of respect was the T-shirt writer Brennon Martin spotted on a fan. Brennon, who authored a book about his grandmother Christine “Teeny” Jarrett, found a young woman with a homemade “Teeny” T-shirt in the vendor hall. Teeny was never a TV personality. She is known only to those who care enough to learn about the past beyond what one can glean from the WWE Network.

I was wrong about the Starrcast crowd, and I am glad I was! As Cody said Saturday night, wrestling does not belong to one company. It belongs to everyone who works in the ring and every fan at ringside. It’s exciting to see that the future of the business belongs to people who care about the past – especially the things that happened before the monopoly. It’s my honor to be one of those keeping those stories alive, and it’s a pleasure to be witness to the revolution of the 21st century.

Why You Need to Visit the Hall of Fame in Waterloo

Wrestling fans have many choices as to where they spend their money each year. There’s Wrestlemania weekend, along with Axxess and WrestleCon. There’s Cauliflower Alley, WrestleCade in November, and countless fan shows, reunions, and conventions across the country.

And then there’s the George Tragos & Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame at the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

The museum’s name is a mouthful, and Waterloo, Iowa is a far cry from the big cities that land Wrestlemania. You may well ask yourself why you should spend your hard earned dollars on a trip to the Hall of Fame weekend Waterloo as opposed to one of the premier conventions.

Here are four good reasons that make Waterloo a must-do trip for any die hard fan.

Meet the stars in an informal setting. Hall of Fame weekend includes an open to the public signing period at the museum. An admission ticket to the museum Saturday (which is very cheap) to get access to the meet and greet, but if you get the VIP weekend pass (which is also very reasonable!), you will be hanging out with legends and current stars from Thursday night to Saturday in one informal setting after another. The VIP pass allows you to share drinks, hear stories, and take photos with legendary stars all weekend long, and the vast majority of “name” stars who attend the weekend are very friendly and eager to chat with anyone.

Learn the history of the sport. Did you know that Waterloo, Iowa was the birthplace of the modern NWA? Iowa is also a hot bed for collegiate wrestling, with Northern Iowa, Iowa, and Iowa State all within a few minutes or hours drive. The Dan Gable Museum (named for the legendary Iowa State grad turned Iowa Hawkeye coach) pays tribute to college and Olympic wrestling as well as professional wrestling. They have a remarkable collection of pro wrestling memorabilia including photos, boots, robes, title belts, and one of a kind artifacts, and during Hall of Fame weekend, they go all out on the pro wrestling displays. You will learn a great deal, and you won’t be able to stop taking photos.

Watch some great independent wrestling. What’s a wrestling convention without a little wrestling? Local promotion Impact Pro Wrestling (not to be confused with national promotion IMPACT Wrestling) hosts a show on Friday evening featuring local stars and national names. Colt Cabana, Bob Holly, and Austin Aries were guests this year, and many of the legends present Friday night got in on the action as well. B. Brian Blair came out the winner of the Lou Thesz Memorial Battle Royal. A terrific show in a great venue with a crowd that truly loves the sport of pro wrestling.

Support a great museum. The Dan Gable Museum is not only committed to preserving the past but growing the sport of wrestling in the future. Much of the emphasis on the future centers on the actual sport of wrestling, but the staff at the museum in no way relegates professional wrestling to second class status. There’s an undeniable link between the legitimate wrestling sports and pro wrestling. They are inseparable, and the Dan Gable Museum balances both exceedingly well. It’s not the biggest sports Hall of Fame, but it is arguably the friendliest. The every-changing exhibits and upcoming enhancements will ensure there’s something new to see and learn with every visit.

George Tragos & Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame at the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa hosts their Hall of Fame induction in late July. Mark your calendar now, and do not miss this opportunity.

Always, Always Shake Hands

Lesson learned from my past two road trips:

Meet everyone.

Always shake hands.

Don’t assume anyone is going to blow you off or not want to talk. If they do, big deal. If they do not, you may be in for some great conversation.

Simply put, I wish I had shaken more hands and met more folks at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend. I had a great time hanging out with my fellow writers and some good conversations with a handful of legends, but there are others I had the chance to meet and just didn’t have the guts to go up and shake hands. Shame on me.

On the plus side, I am very grateful for the conversations I had with Bruce Hart and Rock Riddle in particular. Bruce is a great story teller, and he shared a few hair-raising tales his father had passed down to him about the OLD, old days.

Rock Riddle is a perfect example of why you always shake hands and say hello. He was eager to talk, and boy did he talk. I started by asking him about his experiences on the Gong Show, and I got 10 minutes of stories about the legendary Chuck Barris, plus another 15 about his own life and career.

Happy to say I learned my lesson well from that week and took the time to say hello to a few more people at Rocket City WrestlingCon. Jimmy Hart was every bit as nice as you have heard he is. He put over Dr. D and Doc’s book several times, and he was very grateful when I gave him a copy of Bluegrass Brawlers. Brutal Bob and I had some nice conversations as well, and there’s a chance we may collaborate on a project or two. And what can you say about Tracy Smothers? The man is a legend, and a great storyteller. He also cares deeply about the business and the young guys and ladies in the business.

The rule in the locker room is that you always shake hands with everyone. Fans, don’t be afraid to do the same. Say hello. Say thanks for coming. Ask a question or two. Don’t be bashful. Most people are thrilled to talk to you, and you will make some great memories.

Reunited: Bill Apter Interviews Dr. D David Schultz

It’s been a couple of decades since Bill Apter last interviewed Dr. D David Schultz. Last Thursday the two were reunited on Apter’s live video podcast. You can watch the replay below.

Dr. D will be back on Thursday night May 18 at 7 pm eastern time for part two with Bill Apter.

Autographed copies of Dr. D’s book are still available as well. $30 with free shipping in the US. Email johncosper@yahoo.com to order.

Black Panther Items Up For Sale

The second round of Black Panther memorabilia has been split up into lots, and all lots and individual items have been posted on my Facebook page. These items are all headed for eBay, if not sold directly, and all reasonable offers are being accepted.

This is a rare change to get ahold of letters, personal documents including marriage certificates and tax returns, and other unique memorabilia.

Click here to go to Eat Sleep Wrestle on Facebook and see what’s available.

More Black Panther Jim Mitchell Memorabilia Available

A few weeks ago, I made my second trek to Toledo to pick up more memorabilia from the Black Panther Jim Mitchell. This time around I brought back his matching set of three suitcases, chock full of programs, letters, photos, and other mementos from his life in wrestling and afterward.

As before, the owner wants to sell this memorabilia. I’ve started posting photos on my Facebook page, where fans and collectors are welcome to make offers and buy items outright. Anything not sold there will go on my eBay store.

See some photos below to whet your appetite, then head to Facebook or eBay for more.

Whatever Happened to Huperfulagas? Louisville’s Wild Kingdom

In December of 1908 a Louisville promoter announced a special attraction to take place on January 1, 1909. A man from Africa named Huperfulagas, who claimed to be a descendant of Zulu royalty, announced his intentions to wrestle a live bull bare-handed. The Louisville Courier-Journal covered the lead up to the match closely, following along as Huperfulagas assisted the promoters in picking his opponent from the Bourbon Stockyards on New Year’s Day. Huperfulagas expressed no fear entering the match, proclaiming he would not be in the slightest danger, while the bull, he vowed, would not suffer more than “temporary discomfort.”

Huperfulagas squared off against the bull the night of January 1, 1909, wearing traditional native Zulu face paint and attire “somewhat modified to meet the local ordinances.” The results of this match did not appear in the January 2, 1909, edition of The Courier-Journal, but 50 years later, after a flashback story appeared in the paper, a former Louisville police officer named H. D. Browning wrote into the paper to share the results.
Browning was on duty the night of the match, and when the bull was led into the Coliseum at Fourth and A Streets, he appeared to be half-starved and not at all interested in the proceedings. The so-called Zulu prince spent 30 minutes twisting the hungry beast by the horns, trying to bring the creature down, but when Huperfulagas began bleeding from the nose, police stepped in and stopped the match.

“We led Huper to a chair and he nearly collapsed,” said Browning. “The bull seemed more hungry than wild. If it had been wild, Huper would not have lasted three seconds.”

While the bull wrestling match is certainly unique in Louisville’s wrestling history, it was far from the only man vs. nature battle to take place. Here’s a run down of some of the most memorable beasts to work the town during Louisville’s golden age of wrestling.

August 10, 1937. “Hillbilly” Lem Stecklin defeated Maurice La Chapelle in an outdoor show at the Swiss Park Arena. Stecklin was a hit with the fans because his brought his pet raccoon Oscar to the ring with him.

April 19, 1938. Whitey Govro took on an unnamed 450 pound bear during the Allen Athletic Club’s weekly show at the Columbia Gym. It was the first bear wrestling match hosted by the promotion and drew 1504 people. Govro took the victory that night.

October 11, 1938. Oscar the raccoon made his second Louisville appearance at the Columbia Gym, where his pal “Hillbilly” Lem Stecklin defeated Dick Griffin.

June 30, 1942. Ginger the Wrestling Bear made her first Louisville appearance working against two men: Buddy Atkinson and Floyd Bird. There were many different Gingers over the years. This particular Ginger was a 305-pound Canadian Black Bear trained by Roy Welch, who later partnered with Nick Gulas to promote Memphis wrestling. After Ginger successfully defeated Bird, but the Atkinson match was a no finish. Atkinson mostly ran from the bear the whole time.

January 21, 1947. In one of the final shows ever hosted by Allen Club founder Heywood Allen, a Florida man named Gil Woodworth astonished the Louisville fans by wrestling a live alligator. The seven-foot “orgy of terror” thrilled and frightened the crowd of 7300 fans but was no match for Woodworth, who also claimed to have been a stand-in for Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan films. Later that same evening, fans saw Woodworth marry Miss Perma Crook of Ripley, Tennessee in the ring, with women’s rapper June Byers standing in as her maid of honor.

January 6, 1948. Tuffy Truesdale claimed victory over a 500 pound alligator. Truesdale (whose name was also spelled Truesdell) was an alligator wrestling specialist and later trained one of the most famous wrestling bears, the Coca-Cola loving Victor.

January 26, 1950. Ginger defeated Moody Palmer at the Columbia Gym when he fell 25 seconds short of lasting five minutes with the 370 pound black bear.

May 6, 1950. Ginger defeated Pete Peterson and Floyd Bird in a two-on-one handicap match. Peterson and Bird worked as a tag team against Ginger and lasted 11 minutes and 15 seconds before Ginger pinned Peterson.

May 1, 1951. Tuffy Truesdale returned for an encore performance and topped his previous victory by defeating an 800 pound alligator.

July 10, 1951. Farmer Jones made his debut in Louisville defeating Flash Clifford. Jones had a pet pig who accompanied him, and both Jones and the pig became regular guests of the Allen Club over the next four years.

July 28, 1953. Farmer Jones and his pet pig faced off against Leo “The Lion” Newman. Newman had an animal mascot of his own, a 210-pound lion cub, who regularly accompanied him to the ring. Sadly for Louisville fans, promoter Francis McDonogh would not permit Newman to bring the lion with him.

May 18, 1954. Ada Ash became the first woman to take part in an inter-species bout in Louisville when she defeated a 6-foot long 200 pound alligator.

October 26, 1954. On this fateful evening, fans were promised a match between Fearless Lawless and a 400 pound grizzly bear, but the match never took place. Slated to go on last, the bear was to follow the tag match pitting Cyclone Anaya and Guy Brunetti against Stu Gibson and “Mystery Man.” When the crooked heel Gibson and his masked partner stole a victory by unsavory means, Anaya and Brunetti staged a sit down strike to protest. Fans stomped their feet in solidarity, creating such a commotion that the grizzly bear refused to climb the steps from the lower level to the gymnasium. Said the Courier-Journal story on October 27, “The belligerent bear, at last report, was at the bottom of the basement steps, resisting the efforts of a half-dozen handlers to get him to his truck.”