Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Crowbar Press
Photos: 205 b&w
Cover: Full color
Item #: cbp04-ik
"Is That Wrestling Fake?" is available exclusively from Crowbar Press.
All books will be shipped via Media Mail (U.S.), Priority Mail, or International Priority Mail (Canada/overseas).
Excerpt from "Is That Wrestling Fake?" The Bear Facts
Copyright © Ivan Koloff and Scott Teal
I got mad one night when Dusty told us, "Nikita needs to get pinned tonight."
I thought that was the worst thing they could do. "Just a minute," I said. "If we need to lose tonight, then pin me. Don’t beat Nikita, because down the road, it will mean more if he’s unbeaten."
I was smart enough to know that after spending twenty years in the business, I could get the job done both in the ring and on interviews, so it wouldn’t hurt me to lose. If they beat Nikita when he was still relatively inexperienced, it would kill him. His mystique was that of a monster Russian who couldn’t be beaten. We would get a lot more mileage out of the Koloff team if we waited to beat him when he was over more.
For decades, professional wrestling fans have asked the question – "Is that wrestling fake?"
However, they wouldn't have dared ask that question directly to Ivan Koloff, whose work in the ring made believers out of the most cynical viewers.
Growing up on a farm in Ontario, Ivan learned the meaning of hard work and discipline. Unfortunately, he made wrong choices and wound up in prison for cattle rustling. Upon his release, he enrolled in a wrestling school and began a career in pro wrestling as Red McNulty, the Irish Rogue.
Five years later, on January 18, 1971, he appeared in Madison Square Garden under the name Ivan Koloff and did what had never been done before. He pinned Bruno Sammartino's shoulders to the mat and won the WWWF heavyweight title. When the referee called for the bell, you could have heard a pin drop as the more than 21,000 screaming fans were instantly moved to a stunned, disbelieving silence.
That accomplishment made Ivan Koloff one of wrestling's biggest superstars until his retirement from the ring in the mid-1990s. Competing in virtually every major promotion throughout the world, he feuded with every top name in the wrestling business, including Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, Dick the Bruiser, Bob Backlund, Billy Robinson, Dusty Rhodes, and Ivan Putski.
Here for the first time, Ivan tells the story of his life: the highs and the lows; his admission of alcohol and drug abuse; reflections of a life spent on the road, and the toll it took on his body and soul; the event in Kannapolis, North Carolina, that changed his life forever.
Ivan also talks about:
• growing up on a farm in Canada
• going to prison for cattle rustling
• learning to wrestle at Jack Wentworth’s school in Hamilton, Ontario
• getting blood for the first time
• wrestling as Red McNulty, the (one-eyed) Irish Rogue
• wrestling Bruno Sammartino (Ivan’s hero) for the first time
• working as a Union steward at a steel company
• becoming a full-time professional wrestler
• working in preliminaries and doing job for two years
• working as a bouncer in Vancouver with Dale Hey (the future Buddy Roberts)
• going to Montreal as a main event wrestler
• Tony Angelo, his first manager
• how Lou Albano paved the way for his first run in New York
• dealing with Vince McMahon Sr. and what he thinks of him as a businessman
• his tour of Australia with Playboy Gary Hart and King Curtis
• who, how, and when he was approached about winning the WWWF title from Bruno Sammartino (and you won’t believe who the New York office sent to talk to him about it)
• how the New York wrestling office double-crossed Ivan after he won the title.
• his first tour of Japan
• working for Verne Gagne in the AWA
• teaming with Superstar Billy Graham
• wrestling a young Ric Flair
• getting into a fight with Buck Ramstead in Japan
• how wrestlers used alcohol and drugs to deal with their injuries and physical problems.
• the part steroids played in the careers of many of his peers.
• acting as referee for a fight in the dressing room between Don Jardine and Wahoo McDaniel
• being blackballed for wrestling for the International Wrestling Alliance
• attempting to promote wrestling in California with Superstar Billy Graham
• trying to find work with promoters who didn’t agree with the policies of National Wrestling Alliance promoters
• the promoters who thumbed their nose at the NWA and booked him
• his opinion of Ole Anderson as the booker for Georgia Championship Wrestling
• his time in the ring and on the road with Mad Dog Buzz Sawyer
• why he and Alexis Smirnoff were stopped and interviewed by the FBI
• his fight with the Iron Sheik on an airplane
• turning down what he thinks was a second opportunity to win the WWWF title
• the lifestyle of a professional wrestler and the price they pay
• being assaulted by fans with knives, bent nails, pieces of wood, chairs, and even a woman’s handbag
• Nikita Koloff’s introduction to the business
• why and how Nikita was turned babyface without Ivan knowing it was going to happen
• teaming with Krusher Kruschev (Barry Darsow)
• teaming and traveling with Dick Murdoch
• being forced out of Jim Crockett Promotions
• wrestling for Carlos Colon in Puerto Rico
• operating wrestling schools with Paul Jones and Bobby Fulton
• network marketing with Nikita
• his conversion experience and accepting Christ as his Savior and Lord
• his fight to beat his addictions to drugs and alcohol
• Erica Flair, the Nature Girl
• working for Children’s Miracle Network
• his life today and what he’s been doing since he quit full-time wrestling
Ivan tells stories about many of the personalities he worked with, including Bill Miller, Stu Hart, Mad Dog Vachon, Ernie Ladd, Andre the Giant, Johnny Rougeau, Jacques Rougeau, Bepo Mongol (the future Nicolai Volkoff), Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Gorilla Monsoon, Freddie Blassie, Bobby Heenan, Red Bastien, Bull Bullinski, Kevin von Erich, Kerry von Erich, Mr. Fuji, Johnny Valentine, Dick the Bruiser, Roddy Piper, Mr. Saito, Ray Stevens, Stan Hansen, and Abdullah the Butcher.
This is a revealing memoir that will take you into the mind of the Russian Bear, both in and out of the ring.
One extra bonus is the inclusion of over 205 photographs, most of which are from Ivan's personal collection.
A second bonus is a section called "Christian Facts Guidance," which is written by Blackjack Mulligan, shared here in print form for the first time.
Scott Teal has done it again and has co-authored yet another championship literary work in the fast moving world of Professional Wrestling!
This time he tag teams with Ivan "The Russian Bear" Koloff in Is That Wrestling Fake? and takes us down another unique path of what the old school kayfabe days of pro wrestling were like. Here you will read about Ivan’s life long struggles both in and out of the squared circle — his rise in to the main events — how the WWWF title was to exchange hands between Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and himself, and why it was done exactly the way it was done at that time — his travels to many wrestling territories of his time: WWWF, NWA, AWA, WWA, IWA, etc. — how he carried his anti-American act too far and found himself deep in trouble with the FBI — and about his great partners and the tag titles he held.
The book is very different than most other wrestling books you might have read before. In fact, you might seem to think, like me, that the book is somewhat incoherent until you realize the angle Ivan and Scott are coming from. The book is not set up in a straight, historical time line; rather, it is set up as if Ivan and Scott were sitting right next to you, sharing a beer, and talking about the good old days. The thoughts come out as naturally as if you were talking to your best friend on old childhood memories. Nothing is rehearsed, and the thoughts flow freely from topic to topic; or in wrestling terms, from pillar to post.
Readers who were fortunate to have read Inside Out by Ole Anderson, and Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls by J.J. Dillon, know just how much work it took to make the matches come to look as real to a fight as possible, and for good reason; the people believed it was real, but if it were real, the wrestlers could never have wrestled several times a week as they did then. That is not to say the wrestlers did not get hurt, or suffer all sorts of physical punishment. The truth is, THEY DID!
Finally, you will read about Ivan’s reclamation through his faith in God. It is this part of the book that reminds me of "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck, in that no matter how far from grace a man has fallen in the sight of God, he still maintains the choice to do better, to choose between good and evil – "timshel" or Thou Mayest, is truly ever present in Ivan’s life and book.
Accolades to Ivan and Scott on a great book!
I finished the book a few nights ago and I really enjoyed reading it a lot. Ivan is a very interesting guy and his life is a remarkable story. I also learned a lot about the wrestling business, at least the way it used to be when it was good from a fan and spectators standpoint. I assumed that the top guys made a whole lot more money. Perhaps they do today. I rattled off some of the names he mentioned to my brother and we had a lot of fun reminiscing, remember this guy, remember that guy, etc. I hope that the book is a huge success for both you and Ivan. Please let him know how much the guy who printed his book enjoyed reading it!
Just wanted to let you know that I just finished your book with Ivan Koloff. I must say, great job again. I found the book to be very entertaining from a wrestling fans perspective (since 1970) and also I found Ivans story and his trial of his faith to be tremendously inspiring. I will recommend this book to any and all.
I have now received and read the J.J., Ole, and Ivan books and all I can say is Bravo!! All three are great reads and even better than I thought they would be!! They blow away the sanitized works put out by the WWE. I can't wait for the Bruiser Brody book. And do you have an E.T.A. for Stan Hansen? Also, two more names come to mind when thinking of possible subjects: Kevin Sullivan and Abdullah The Butcher. Have either ever shown any interest in telling their no-doubt fascinating stories?
I just finished Ivan's Is That Wrestling Fake? and was enthralled and wanting more. It is a good read, full of interesting tidbits on the wrestling business, it's characters, and Ivan's life. In his book, he proves, without doubt, that God can save the worst of us.
Webmaster for ivankoloff.com
Received the Koloff book. Can't wait to sit down and actually read it cover to cover. I keep grabbing it and reading bits and pieces here and there. It is another one of your masterpieces and couldn't be on a finer talent than Ivan Koloff, one of wrestling's all-time finest. We need one on Donnie Fargo now!
Ken Jugan, aka Lord Zoltan
I loved your Ivan book. It was great. I would love to see a book that exposes the deaths related to drugs? I believe it is just terrible. Ivan is a friend. I am happy to see his life detailed in a book.
I received Ivan book today and thumbed thru it at lunch. GREAT pics in the book, especially near the end. I can't wait to read story tonight of Ivan, Bruno Sammartino, and WWWF title swap. Thanks again for another great piece of work.