Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Jason HessIntroduction: Houston Wrestling promoter Paul Boesch spent over 55 years of his life involved in professional wrestling, but was perhaps more well known for his work outside the ring than inside the ring. The long time voice of the widely successful Houston Wrestling television show was extremely influential in Houston, and was well respected from those within the industry.
After his retirement from the industry in 1987,
Boesch decided to finish a manuscript that he had been working on
since the late 1970's. In
1988 Boesch finished his wrestling memoirs, one of at least four books
that he had written, but never published during his lifetime.
Seemingly all hope for the book being released to the public
passed away with Boesch in March 1989.
Thankfully, this was not to be, as Boesch's widow
Valerie kept the manuscript in small circulation, and in 2001, the
book was published, complete with a warm foreword/introduction by
wrestling legend Red Bastien. It
is currently available in the Houston area by Minuteman Press, and can
be ordered by telephone. Ordering
information can be obtained at the end of this review.
This book is written in a pro-kayfabe format, with Boesch
wanting to protect the inner workings of the business.
The book has a quite impressive length, coming in at around 370
pages, plus pages of photographs of stars from years gone by featured
on Houston Wrestling. Some
stars seen include: Man
Mountain Dean, Ernie Ladd, The Destroyer, Gene Kiniski, Fritz Von
Erich, Red Lyons, Bull Curry, Dory Dixon, Wild Red Berry, and many
more. With 33 chapters,
the book does move at a fairly nice pace.
Before publishing, the book was edited by J. Michael Kenyon, a
member of the famed Cauliflower Alley Club, and publisher of the WAWLI
the overview may seem (hopefully) thorough, there are many more
stories and facts that are in the book not included in the overview
that any reader would enjoy to learn about or remember back to.
Chapters 1-5: History After a brief explanation of the book title (in which someone during World War II asks Boesch the book title question), Boesch begins to chronicle the history of wrestling through time, and into America. He traces wrestling back to the Gilgamesh epic, which was probably written between 2500-3000 B.C. He mentions how every culture, from Rome, to the Greeks, to the Egyptians to the Chinese had a form of wrestling. Boesch further states how former presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt were avid wrestlers and fans of wrestling, and mentions briefly numerous other presidents who wrestled either as children or as early adults. In Chapters 3-5, Boesch begins a lengthy historical narrative about wrestling in the United States starting with William Muldoon and going forward from there. Some of the great wrestlers from the past Boesch mentions include: Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, Tom Jenkins, Stanislaus Zbyszko, and the man he called the "scissors king," Joe Stecher. Boesch also begins to chronicle the rise of Ed "Strangler" Lewis to the top of the mat world, something he would follow up on repeatedly as the book continued into the decade of the twenties. More...