Kentucky’s Own Hillbilly Jim

I had no idea Hillbilly Jim had a book until I stumbled across a copy at Half Price Books. It’s a light read, one I completed in a day, and I’ll be honest: it’s got flaws. It stars on page one when the author (not Hillbilly Jim himself) attributes the phrase “Pencil Neck Geek” to Jerry Lawler instead of Freddie Blassie. He later refers to Memphis wrestling as the AWA, and he credits Antonio Rocca – not Gorgeous George – as being the wrestler who made people want to buy a television in the 1950s.

Clearly, Hillbilly Jim’s biographer isn’t in tune with wrestling or wrestling history. But he does have a good yarn to tell, and if you can get past the factual issues (most of which have nothing to do with Hillbilly Jim’s story), you’ll enjoy reading the tale of the poor Kentucky boy who rose to become the #2 babyface in the Hulkamania era of the WWF.

Hillbilly Jim is the star here, and he comes across the way you remember him. There’s no dirt, no scandal, no tell-all reveals to be found here. Just a simple story about a Kentucky boy who grew up playing basketball and ended up becoming a major professional wrestling star.

The Amazon reviews are largely negative on this one, and if you’re a stickler for getting the facts right, it will get under your skin. J. Michael Kenyon would have pulled his hair out over some of the errors. But if you grew up watching wrestling in the 80s and remember the infectious grin and positivity of Hillbilly Jim, it’s a trip down memory lane worth taking.