...OH, ONE MORE THING - PLEASE BOOKMARK US & VISIT DAILY!
By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Jonathan Snowden's first two books, Total MMA and The MMA Encyclopedia, provided MMA fans and non-fans a thorough look into the history of mixed martial arts. Highlighting many of the key players and organizations that helped bring along the sport to where it is today, both books delved deep into stories known only in small circles of the MMA world, while deconstructing many of the myths that have emerged through the years as well.
In his latest book, "Shooters: The Toughest Men in Professional Wrestling," Snowden once again looks to provide readers with a look into a world they may not be entirely familiar with. Though the book is a compendium of stories, interviews, anecdotes, and much more regarding the professional wrestling industry, it also ties in excellently with the history of mixed martial arts. Make no mistake about it, MMA's history is rooted deep within professional wrestling, a fact that many choose to ignore, but Snowden showcases those roots in the stories of the toughest men to compete in one or the other, and oftentimes both.
The tale weaves through the lives of generations of men, hopping from the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Japan, and back again in a wide-ranging look at what really happened behind the tall tales and myths created by these larger than life men. Beginning in the late 1800s, the book highlights dozens of names across more than 120 years of professional wrestling, with plenty of fascinating accounts there to entertain throughout.
Many recognizable names are featured, from "Farmer" Burns, Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, Lou Thesz, and Danny Hodge, all the way up to names like Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, and Josh Barnett. Along the way, Snowden brings to the forefront many other names who had an impact in their own right, going behind the curtain into many of their most famous stories and matches, as well as how they ended up where they did.
It's a fascinating read, and at under 300 pages before appendices its a fairly brisk one as well. Whether you're a fan of pro wrestling or not, the stories presented within have plenty for everyone to enjoy. MMA fans may actually be the perfect audience for the book, as it provides a rarely scene look into how the influence of pro wrestlers directly connects with the sport they watch today.
Indeed, one of the most entertaining chapters revolves around a man whose influence is still directly felt today in "Judo" Gene LeBell. The 79-year-old judoka and stuntman has many famous and successful students competing in MMA, perhaps none more so than current judo whiz kid "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion. LeBell's story is one known by many, yet like most of the profiles throughout "Shooters," there is sure to be plenty that will be new to fans. He's one of the many important figures featured who has a direct link to today's sport, and Snowden provides an immensely entertaining account of his history here.
With a mixture of newspaper articles from the respective time periods, first hand accounts, autobiographies, brand new interviews, and much more, Snowden succeeds in getting behind many of the stories fans have heard and think they know. He presents the history of these men as it actually was, to the best of his ability, and along the way constructs a nice timeline narrative to bring the story from its beginnings all the way to today.
Whether you're a pro wrestling fan, an MMA fan, or both, the book is yet another must-read from Snowden. There are many fascinating stories within, and it provides an excellent look at the broad history of professional wrestling's biggest and baddest.
"Shooters: The Toughest Men in Professional Wrestling" is available in bookstores everywhere! You can read more from Jonathan Snowden in Total MMA, The MMA Encyclopedia, and at BleacherReport.com
DON'T GO YET... WE SUGGEST THESE MMATORCH ARTICLES, TOO!
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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