The Sheikh of Baghdad: Tales of Celebrity and Terror from Pro Wrestling’s General Adnan by Adnan Al-Kaissy
Review / October 11, 2019

Alkaissy is best known in the wrestling world as Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie or General Adnan from the WWF, though he also had a tag title run in the WWWF as native American star Billy White Wolf. He grew up in Iraq and claims to have been a school classmate of Saddam Hussein. He took up an international football scholarship at the University of Houston and had an amateur background, later being introduced to the pro ranks by Canadian legend Yvon Robert. Although he returned to Iraq, he fled the country in 1963 after the rise of the Baath party. According to the book, Alkaissy was invited back after the Baath party was driven from power and met up with old schoolfriend Hussein who invited him to wrestle Georges Gordienko in front of 200,000 people in a Baghdad stadium, with another 100,000 watching on TV screens outside. So popular was Alkaissy, the book recalls, that he once went shopping and caused a traffic jam so large that Hussein, caught up in it, feared a coup was underway. It’s clearly very difficult to verify the claims given the lack of historical records. There’s certainly photographic evidence of Alkaissy and Hussein together (and…

Unladylike: A Grrrl’s Guide to Wrestling by Heather Von Bandenburg
Review / October 11, 2019

Many wrestling books feature wrestlers telling the story of what happened in their careers, but none have matched this for explaining what being a wrestler is actually like. Unladylike works because of what it is and what it doesn’t try to be. Bandenburg mainly wrestled for the Lucha Britannia and Burning Hearts promotions, neither of which are widely classed as whatever counts as mainstream in modern British wrestling. Simply telling her in-ring story might have had a limited audience. Similarly, the book doesn’t try to be a comprehensive history or examination on feminism in wrestling. Instead it’s a very personal account of what wrestling means to Bandenburg from her lived experience and perspective. It’s an incredible rounded and self-aware portrayal that doesn’t merely cover the more commonly discussed psychological effects of escaping reality to portray a character and work with a crowd to create emotion. Instead it also covers body confidence and the effects – both positive and negative – on human physiology of both performing and training in pro wrestling. It’s one of the most detailed accounts of what wrestling training really involves, the challenges it presents, the rollercoaster of emotions and physicality that comes with struggling and succeeding…