Published at the tail of the first national TV wrestling boom, this is an excellent memento of the period and is a genuinely informative read rather than just a collectible historical item.
The heart of the book is a series of profiles of around 250 wrestlers, ranging from full-page pieces on the top stars to capsule bios. Naturally it’s entirely in kayfabe, but there’s a fair bit of detail on backgrounds and career histories, most of which appears historically accurate.
Other sections of the book include pieces on women and midget wrestlers, promoter profiles, details of overseas grapplers, and a piece on boxer vs wrestler matches in history. It also has a piece on wrestling rules and how to apply holds.
Perhaps the most striking note is an estimate that 24 million tickets were sold for wrestling shows in the US over the course of the year. To put that into perspective, the respective figure for dominant powerhouse WWE in 2013 was just under two million.
It’s a book worth tracking down if you have cash to spare and fortunately it is relatively readily available on auction sites and through used book sellers. It’s available in both the original 1952 edition (pictured) and an updated 1953 edition. Some sellers also have a version of the latter where the first eight chapters of the book appear twice, though I don’t know how rare this is or whether it makes it significantly more collectable.
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