Drawing Heat by Jim Freedman
Review / April 11, 2019

Back when wrestling books were few and far between, this was one of the titles that was worth tracking down through bookshop ordering systems. Even today, it’s still a remarkable insight into a particular aspect and era of the business. Freedman is an anthropologist who taught at the University of Western Ontario for 26 years, during which time he wrote Drawing Heat. It’s a study of wrestling in Ontario, partly of the main NWA territory operated by Frank Tunney, but mainly of the outlaw promotion run by Dave ‘The Bearman’ McKigney. McKigney was not strictly an opposition promoter, but rather somebody who promoted the small towns where nobody else wanted to go. He allowed Freeman to accompany him on the road, including for an entire tour, allowing Freeman to document the bizarre world of pro wrestling from an outsider perspective. It’s a cast including midgets, the Sheik and a wrestling bear among others. The book goes into immense detail about the practicalities of a smaller promoter trying to make ends meet, deal with an athletic commission, and and rouse up publicity through whatever means necessary. In some ways it’s very much of its time, capturing the tail end of the…