Louisville’s Greatest Show

For 22 years, the Allen Athletic Club’s weekly wrestling show at the Columbia Gym was the place to be on Tuesday night. Promoters Heywood Allen and his successors Francis and Betty McDonogh overcame the Great Depression, the 1937 flood, a World War, and a “crooked” athletic commissioner to bring the best of the golden age of wrestling to Louisville.

Now for the first time, author John Cosper (Bluegrass Brawlers) presents the full story of “That Gang of Allen’s,” the wrestlers, referees, announcers, and others who made Tuesday Louisville’s favorite night of the week. This is the story of the true golden age of wrestling, when men and women wore their Sunday best to see hometown heroes like Blacksmith Pedigo, Kid Scotty Williams, Stu Gibson, Mel Meiners, Sgt. Buck Moore, and “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell mix it up with Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, the French Angel, Buddy Rogers, Freddie Blassie, Johnny Valentine, Mildred Burke, Mae Young, Bobo Brazil, and Ginger the Wrestling Bear.

From mud matches to masked men; from Wild Bill Cantrell to Wild Bill Longson; from live TV to live alligators, the Allen Athletic Club was Louisville’s Greatest Show. This is the story of Louisville’s first great wrestling promotion and the families that made wrestling a vital part of the city they loved.

“Sensational!”  – Jim Cornette

“As I read the last page it made me sad to be leaving this journey I’ve been on for the last few weeks. I will forever be envious of those folks who saw some of the greatest talent perform during those years, but never so much as I would of the card of November 27, 1954 or the opportunity to hang out at the Black Panther Carry Out. John, thank you for amazing book and awesome ride through history.” – Chris DeBoer

“Anyone interested in wrestling and are open minded to learning about the past generations will thoroughly enjoy it I feel. It is up there with Larry Matysik’s book on the St. Louis Wrestling Club as far as books on specific promoters/areas go. At the beginning John Cosper asks the question: ‘How did a community like Louisville become home to not one but two wrestling promotions that survived more than twenty years in the WWE era?’ By the end of it you’ll not only know the answer, but, you’ll understand it and feel as though you’ve been thoroughly entertained during the process.”Jimmy Wheeler, Pro Wrestling Historical Society (5/5 stars)

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