Grappling Glory: Celebrating a Century of Minnesota Wrestling & Rassling
By Ross Bernstein
Forewords by: Jesse Ventura, Verne Gagne and J Robinson
Pages: 200 (Hardcover Coffee Table Book)
About The Book
Minnesota's amazing amateur and professional wrestling histories come to life like never before in "Grappling Glory." Featuring interviews and biographies from hundreds of our state's greatest wrestlers, coaches, media personalities, supporters and fans, the book is both intriguing as well as insightful. In it are stories ranging from inspirational to heartwarming to downright hilarious. While these two completely different animals, wrestling and rassling, surely make for some odd bedfellows, Bernstein went to great lengths to make sure that each entity had its own place in the book: amateur in the first half and professional in at the latter. He also made sure to acknowledge that amateur wrestling is a sport, while professional wrestling is a form of sports-entertainment. There are many common denominators between the two, however, in that they both require incredible athleticism, extremely hard work and a boat-load of self-confidence to succeed. Both have also produced a whole bunch of extraordinary people over the years, and that is what this book is all about - celebrating the achievements of those who have made Minnesota proud both on the mat and in the ring. With some 350 photos, the book highlights a tremendous sampling of local heroes - both native Minnesotans as well as transplants. Some were obvious choices, while others came from way outside the box. All of them, however, had a very unique and interesting story to tell, and all of them have touched the lives of countless people along the way. Bernstein spent nearly a year doing research and interviewing wrestling afficionados from all spectrums of the world of sports and entertainment to get the inside scoop. On the amateur side, the book dives into the state-of-the-state of youth, high school, collegiate and Olympic freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Take a trip back in time as you read about and look at pictures of every high school state champ from the very first tourney in 1937, all the way through 2004. From in-depth interviews with dozens of local high school coaches, to feature chapters on every college and university program statewide - it's all here. Highlighting this section are the two-time National Champion Golden Gophers, as well as Division III powerhouse, Augsburg, which has very quietly turned its program into a dynasty over the past two decades. In addition, there are even sections devoted to junior college wrestling as well as the advent of women's wrestling too. Now, on the professional side of the fence, the book chronicles the glorious history of grappling in the Gopher State, going all the way back to the turn of the century - when the "f" word (fake) dared not be mentioned out loud... or else! It also features a huge chapter on the history and evolution of the old American Wrestling Association (AWA), and its legendary founder/promoter/world champion - Verne Gagne. There are also more than 100 feature biographies on nearly every home-town or home-grown pro wrestler with ties to Minnesota as well. From "Jumping" Jim Brunzell to "Mean Gene" Okerlund, and from Stan "Big K" Kowalski to Larry "The Axe" Hennig - the AWA's entire cast of colorful characters is all on board. Learn about life on the road from Joe Laurinaitis (aka "Animal") of Road Warriors fame; find out what Baron Von Raschke is up to these days; and laugh yourself silly reading about the antics of legendary wrestler-turned-trainer Eddie Sharkey. Relive the glory days of watching the action up close and personal out at the old Minneapolis Auditorium, it will be a trip down memory lane that will surely bring a smile to your face. It was all about the journey and about making a difference... and the difference these legends have made has left a truly lasting legacy - for all of us all here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. From high school state champs to world heavyweight champs, their personal memories dot the canvas of this century-long saga, in what is sure to be a wonderful trip through time.