Louisville loves sports. It’s the birthplace of the Muhammed Ali, the home of the Louisville Cardinals, and proud host of the Kentucky Derby. But Louisville has another obsession nearly as old as the Derby: professional wrestling.
As early as the 1870s fans gathered downtown to see men like William Muldoon and women like Ida Alb grapple on the mat. In the early 20th Century Louisville gave Ed “Strangler” Lewis the name that made him famous. The 1930s saw the first turf war in Louisville when the Gayety and Savoy battled each other and the state for control of wrestling. Then in the 1940s Louisville fans had a front row seat to the golden age of Lou Thesz, Mildred Burke, and Gorgeous George thanks to the Allen Athletic Club.
Dick the Bruiser and Wee Willie Davis gave it a go in the 1960s, but it was Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler who rebuilt the market for wrestling in the 1970s, giving Louisville fans a first look at stars like Hulk Hogan, Kane, Steve Austin, and The Rock. When the territories died, the independents filled the void, led by Danny Davis and Ohio Valley Wrestling, where the WWE sent future superstars like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, and Randy Orton to train.
Louisville has also spawned its own superstars, men and women who became local heroes and national icons like “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell, Jim Cornette, and Doug Basham. And let’s not forget those Hoosiers from just across the river, including Stu Gibson, Lord Humongous, Rob Conway, Nick Dinsmore, and Sarah Rowe.
The 10th anniversary edition of Bluegrass Brawlers covers more territory than ever, telling a story that spans 145 years. From an intergender circus brawl to teen sensation Billie Starkz; from Abe Finberg to Al Snow; from Wild Bill Longson to “Flex Kavana” Dwayne Johnson, this is the story of a city that loves professional wrestling!
Number of pages: 324
Books are signed by John Cosper.