Marko Stunt is (All) Elite!

There’s not a nicer, more energetic, enthusiastic, dynamic, over the top kid in pro wrestling than Marko Stunt. What Marko lacks in size, Mr. Fun Size more than makes up for in heart. And this kid is bursting to overflowing with HEART.

It was a huge surprise to all of us who have watched him in the indies when he was named to the All In Over the Budget Battle Royal last September. It came as no surprise when he announced today, on his 23rd birthday, he has signed with All Elite Wrestling.

Congratulations, Marko! Cannot wait to see where you go from here!

Now Available for Pre-Order!

The time has come!

The time is now!

Hurricane JJ John Maguire and I are proud to announce the release of his autobiography, My Life in Heaven Town on September 3!

This is the true story of a boy who went from Somerset, Kentucky to the Sunset Strip en route to the greatest show on Earth, the World Wrestling Federation. It’s JJ’s personal story of his musical journey, his time with the Gentrys, his glory days writing hit WWF theme songs with Jimmy Hart, his brief TV career on Thunder in Paradise, his run with Hulk Hogan’s Wrestling Boot Band, and so much more.

It’s an epic journey with cameos by Prince, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, Farrah Fawcett, Gene Simmons, Henry Winkler, Blackstone the magician, Patrick McNee, Vince Neil, John Landis, and many, many more.

We are now taking pre-orders for signed copies of the book, which will ship out on September 3.

Signed books will cost $20 plus $3 shipping in the US.

(For our international customers: shipping to Canada is $16, Europe is $25.)

PayPal accepted at johncosper@yahoo.com. Feel free to email with any questions!

Four Steps to Finding Your Ancestor’s Wrestling Past!

One of my favorite things in this job is when I get emails from people asking me to help research their relatives. So many people have heard stories about a grandpa, great-grandpa or great uncle who was supposedly wrestler, and they want to know more. I am always happy to lend a hand in these circumstances, mining my own databases as well as searching the web, but I thought I’d share my own process for researching wrestlers of the past for anyone who wants to give it a try.

Step 1: Know Who You Are Looking For

Your grandpa might have been Joe Smith to the family, but who was he in the ring? Like actors and pop stars, many wrestlers adopted ring names to allow them to separate work from home. The first thing you need to know is what name they used in the ring. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell used his real name, Jim Mitchell, in addition to his Black Panther moniker, but Lord Leslie Carlton was born Leo Whippern and had previously wrestled under the name Tug Carlson. Maybe Joe Smith was Masked Samson, or Krusher Smith, or “Jumpin’ Joe” Flash. Knowing their ring name is going to be key to telling their story.

Step 2: Find Out Where They Were

If your relative worked for any length of time, especially during the golden age, their matches should be recorded on Wrestlingdata.com. This free website is far from complete, but it’s a goldmine of information. Not only can you learn alternate ring names and other trivia, you can get a general sense of where they wrestled and when, broken down by month and year.

Prior to writing Jim Mitchell and Lord Carlton’s biographies, I went through the records on wrestlingdata.com to put together a timeline of their careers. Again, these weren’t complete, and I was able to find some inaccuracies in Jim Mitchell’s timeline. (There were a lot of Black Panthers back in the day!) But the timeline gave me an overall sense of where these men were and when.

Incidentally, I already have a similar timeline put together for Wee Willie Davis and Elvira Snodgrass.

Step 3: Search for Their Story

Once you know their ring names and have a good sense of where they were, head over to newspapers.com. This is a pay site, unfortunately, but it’s not too expensive and well worth the cost. You can subscribe to the archives of many individual newspapers, or you can get a general subscription to all the papers on the site.

Once you’re signed up and logged in, the real treasure hunt begins. Type in the name you are looking for in quotes and hit search. You may not hit pay dirt right away, but if you don’t, do not get discourages. The search may need some tweaking. You can modify your search terms, filter by date, and even filter by state.

Be sure to try all the aliases you have for your search subject. Also, if you come across a misspelling of their name, try searching by that misspelling. You’d be amazed how poorly the old newspapers were proofread, especially the sports section, and especially the wrestling results.

It may take some time, but if you stick with it, you’ll get a handle on how to search newspapers.com and figure out the idiosyncrasies of the website and its archives. More important, you’ll begin to piece together the story of that sweet grandpa of yours, whether he was a fresh faced babyface or a dastardly heel.

4. Share What You Learn

After you start finding stories and photos from the past, share them. Share with family, of course, but join some of the pro wrestling history groups on Facebook and share them in the groups. Not only will you find a delighted and eager audience for your ancestor’s story, you may find new photos, new leads, and new information that someone else already has.

The pro wrestling history community is very giving and very supportive. We’re all working together to find the pieces of this long-lost jigsaw puzzle that is wrestling’s past. I wish you story hunters luck, and if I can ever be of service, email me!

Sci-Fi, J Michael Kenyon, and Thelma Todd

My latest book release is not a wrestling book. It’s a science fiction novel about a man whose ex-girlfriend from another dimension shows up and tries to kill him. I know it sounds far-fetched, but it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg of a story that involved multiple worlds, time travel, a pro wrestler (surprise, surprise), and a silver screen legend named Thelma Todd. The book is also dedicated to the late, great pro wrestling historian J. Michael Kenyon, a man I bonded with talking about old wrestlers, including the Black Panther Jim Mitchell, and surprisingly, Thelma Todd.

For those not familiar with her, Todd became a star near the end of the silent film era and was one of many actresses to make the transition from silent to “talkies.” She appeared in a number of comedy films with Zasu Pitts and made two features with the Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers and Monkey Business. She was beautiful and extremely funny and would have had a long and successful career had she not died so young under tragic and mysterious circumstances.

Todd was found dead sitting in a car in the garage of the home of a friend, not far from a restaurant she owned. It was believed she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning and the question became: was it murder? A grand jury heard testimony from friends and witnesses who had seen Todd the night of her death (a list that included pro wrestler Lord Lansdowne), but they ultimately ruled her death to be “accidental with possible suicidal tendencies.”

J. Michael Kenyon was one man who didn’t buy the suicide line. Not only was there no evidence for suicide, other clues left behind and overlooked pointed to murder. JMK regaled me with some fantastic stories about visiting the crime scene, walking the hill from the house to the restaurant below, and examining the evidence for himself. It was an obsession that, just like his love for wrestling and baseball, he took very seriously.

The Thelma Todd subplot began as part of my way of parodying a modern convention in science fiction. A lot of sci-fi writers enjoy lacing their work with references to the 1980s, so I created a character who was instead obsessed with the golden age of cinema. Are not only meant to not only poke against convention but (hopefully) inspire readers to watch a Marx Brothers film or at least look up the story of how Orson Welles lost control of The Magnificent Ambersons. When JMK passed away while I was still working on the book, it seemed only fitting to dedicate it to his memory.

If you’re not a fan of sci-fi, that’s cool. To each his or her own. But if you like sci-fi mixed with humor, especially if you have a fondness for Turner Classic Movies as I do, you should give this one a read!

Click here to buy on Amazon!

JJ Maguire Shares His Story in My Life in Heaven Town

Some fans (not many, but a few) were disappointed that Dr. D David Schultz’s book spent so much time on his bounty hunting days and “not enough” on his wrestling days. Dr. D told the story he wanted to tell, and I think it’s only fair to let fans know that Hurricane JJ Maguire is doing the same.

JJ Maguire is truly the master of wrestling ring music. As Jimmy Hart’s go-to songwriting partner since their days in the Gentrys, JJ collaborated on 110 pieces of music for WWF, WCW, and WWE. His list of credits probably looks like your playlist of favorite wrestling themes, as he wrote the entrance music for Demolition, the Honky Tonk Man, Bret Hart, Ted DiBiase, Shawn Michaels, and (in WCW) Hulk Hogan. He was a member of Hulk’s Wrestling Boot Band, contributing music to the album “Hulk Rules,” and he’s currently the host and MC for Kentucky Zone Wrestling.

That said, JJ Maguire is far from just a wrestling guy, and his upcoming autobiography “My Life in Heaventown” is hardly just another wrestling story. JJ Maguire was a musical prodigy who turned heads at the piano at the tender age of five. He was a member of the legendary rock group The Gentrys and played with numerous other bands from Kentucky to California. He wrote music for Hulk’s TV show Thunder in Paradise and even won a recurring role on the show.

In a career spanning six decades, he’s rubbed shoulders with Prince, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Vince Neil, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Henry Winkler, Robert Conrad, Mark Mothersbaugh, Telly Savalas, Carol Alt, Patrick MacNee, and John Landis. He visited the shop of the legendary Hollywood car builder George Barris. He discussed Kentucky burgoo recipes with Bob Hope. He shot pool with Jackie Gleason inside the Great One’s basement. He even got a kiss from Farrah Fawcett.

Yes, JJ Maguire is the master of wrestling ring music. Yes, he is the face of Kentucky Zone Wrestling. And yes, he wrote or co-wrote a lot of your favorite wrestlers’ theme songs. But his book is more than just a wrestling story. It’s a story for music lovers, for TV and film lovers, and for anyone who has ever had a dream. “My Life in Heaventown” is a story about a Kentucky boy whose talent took him further than he ever dreamed possible!

Stu Gibson Is Now a Hall of Famer!

Three months ago, I traveled to Las Vegas to present Dr. D David Schultz with an award from the Cauliflower Alley Club. This fall, I will be at the Hall of Fame banquet for my alma mater New Albany High School to see Stu Gibson inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I’ve told parts of Stu’s story here on Eat Sleep Wrestle and in two books, Louisville’s Greatest Show and Bluegrass Brawlers. A native of New Albany 1943 graduate of NAHS, Stu served his country during World War II before becoming a star football player at nearby University of Louisville. He was a stellar athlete and could easily have gone pro in multiple sports, but he chose professional wrestling.

Under the tutelage of Wild Bill Longson, Stu became a top heel in Louisville and San Antonio, where he settled and raised his family. He was a colorful personality outside the ring as well as in, a beloved family man who loved make others smile.

Much thanks goes to WNAS station director Brian Sullivan for championing Stu’s nomination with the selection committee. Congratulations and thanks also goes to Stu’s family, especially his baby sister Mary Lou Heinz, who shared many memories and photos with me while we campaigned for Stu’s induction.

You can click here to read my favorite Stu story. Also, press play on the video below to see Stu in action from the early 70s. You might recognize a certain French giant in the home movie as well.

E-Book Now Available: The Original Black Panther

The wait is over e-readers!

Now you can order The Original Black Panther on Kindle and Smashwords!

The ebook version does not include all the photos and images of the paperback, but it is available at the discounted price of $6.99.

Not convinced? Read what others are saying about the book:

“The Original Black Panther: The Life and Legacy of Jim Mitchell is a story that made me proud to lace up my boots for more than twenty-three years and to do so as an African-American in this business. Jim Mitchell is my definition of a superhero.”

– Mark Henry, WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2018

“Wrestling historian John Cosper has done it again.  His newest book, The Original Black Panther: The Life and Legacy of Jim Mitchell is a fascinating journey into the history of one of wrestling’s forgotten superstars.  This book is compelling, informative, and leave you wanting more.  Major kudos to Mr. Cosper.  Another great job!”

– Tim Hornbaker, author of Death of the Territories

Order Now: Paperback | Kindle | Smashwords

Girl Fight Fans – I Need Your Help!

I’ve been compiling a complete record of Girl Fight Wrestling shows over the last four years for my friend, Mad Man Pondo, and we’ve found ourselves stumped on a few shows.

If you’re a Girl Fight Fan, or wrestler, and if you know the results on any of the shows below (or at least the matches I am missing), please email me at johncosper@yahoo.com

Girl Fight 6
December 8, 2015
The Arena Jeffersonville
Kaela vs. Amanda De La Cruz
Samantha Heights vs. Devyn Nicole
Amazing Maria vs. Kelly Klein
Stacy Shadows vs. Melanie Cruise
Mia Yim vs. Crazy Mary Dobson

Girl Fight X
April 7, 2016
Ailie Wellness Center in Cincinnati, Ohio
Randi West vs. Samantha Heights
Hayley Shadows vs. Stacy Shadows
Amazing Maria vs. Kaela
Maya Morrison vs. Sera Feeny
Sahara Se7en vs. Samantha Starr
Crazy Mary Dobson vs. Selene Grey

 

July 23, 2016
Gathering of the Juggalos
Thornville, OH
Mickie Knuckles def. Crazy Mary
Crazy Mary wins Battle Royal

September 14, 2016
Girl Fight and IWA Productions
IWA Production Arena in Olney, IL
Randi West def. Khloe (managed by Ray Bob Smothers – Pondo)
Samantha v Rudy Jordan
Melanie Cruise v. Thunder Rosa

October 18, 2016
Team Vision Dojo in Orlando, FL
Santana Garrett v. Chelsea Green
Mickie Knuckles v. Jessica Havok
Lindsey Snow v.
Su v.
Aja Perreira & Rain of Fire v. Samantha Heights and Amazing Maria

October 20, 2016
Church of Southern Wrestling Arena in Cornelia, GA
Priscilla Kelley v. Samantha Heights
Amber O’Neal Gallows. v. Aja Perreira
Team Monsters Inc (Dementia D’Rose, Mickie Knuckles, Ravana Sin

 

December 18, 2016

April 9, 2017
Heroes and Legends
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, IN
Madi Maxx v. Cali Young
Mickie Knuckles and Dementia D’Rose def. Samantha Heights and Amazing Maria

April 21, 2017
CCW and Girl Fight Wrestling
Luna Vachon Memorial Tournament
A.C Brase Arena in Cape Girardeau, MO
Mickie def. Leva in finals

April 22, 2017
Double Header with EIW show
Elite Center in Newbern, TN

 

May 5, 2017
#FKK – Free Kit Kate to the first 20 people in line
Expo Five in Louisville, KY

June 6, 2017
#1 Contenders Tournament
Trixies in Louisville, KY

August 19, 2017

August 22, 2017
The Arena, Jeffersonville, IN

September 19, 2017
Sugar Creek Casino in Hinton, OK

March 20, 2018
St Paddys Day Melee
The Arena in Jeffersonville

June 12, 2018
Some Like It Hot
The Arena Jeffersonville

August 21, 2018
Don’t Mess with the Commish
The Arena Jeffersonville

March 15, 2019
Shamrock & Roll
TIWF Arena in Trenton TN

May 4, 2019
Primus Omega 9
The Watering Bowl in Denver, CO

June 21, 2019
Samantha Heights def. Aja Perreira to become the new Girl Fight Champion

 

Again, if you have the results for ANY of these shows, please message me. Thanks!

New Book Updates

For fans eagerly awaiting out future releases, here’s where future new releases stand.

Hurricane JJ Maguire has just finished compiling a stack of photos to be added to his book. The text is finished, and once photos are inserted, it’s off to the proofreader. The book cover is also in the works, and we are still shooting for an August release.

The Bomb Shelter: Curse of the Undead Bride is now in the hands of Randi West and Joseph Schwartz, who are in the midst of a very busy summer. Once they have read through and sent back comments on the story, I’ll be doing another draft to finish the book before editing begins. Shooting for fall on this one.

Tracy Smothers fans, I have great news: his book is about half way there. I am sending a preliminary draft out this week to Tracy for review. After he reads it and we make any editorial changes, we’ll be sitting down to start filling in the gaps on a truly amazing story. Looking early 2020 for this one, but it might get moved up depending how fast we get things done from here.

Wee Willie Davis remains on my radar, but for now, it’s been postponed. It’s possible I can still make a 2020 release date, but two more projects have bumped this one back at bit.

What are those two new projects, you may ask?

One is an historical biography I was approached to write. Someone who rubbed shoulders with Wee Willie Davis and The Black Panther Jim Mitchell. By a stroke of pure coincidence, he even makes a cameo in the Bomb Shelter’s upcoming novel with Davis and Mitchell.

The other is a much more modern story.

That’s all I will say for now. The modern tale is already in development, and it’s a very timely story. Hoping to dive in on the new historical bio once JJ and the Bomb Shelter books are released into the wild this fall.

Both should be announced this fall. Both will be released in 2020.

Stay tuned.