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The King of New Orleans: How the Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling's First Black Superhero [Kindle Edition]

Greg Klein
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $14.95 What's this?
Print List Price: $19.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

Telling the remarkable tale of a man who is still remembered on the streets of New Orleans and in the hearts of professional-wrestling fans, this book aims to restore the overlooked Junkyard Dog to his proper place in the history books. In 1979, Sylvester Ritter, also known as the Junkyard Dog, managed to break one of the final color barriers in the sport by becoming the first black wrestler named undisputed top star of his promotion, and this biography reveals all the famous feuds and business back stories that made him a wrestling legend. By 1985, New Orleans was one of the hottest cities in the Mid-South for pro wrestling due in large part to the Junkyard Dog; he became a legend in the Big Easy, drawing sellout crowds to the Downtown Municipal Auditorium and huge crowds to the Superdome, a feat unparalleled by any other wrestler. The King of New Orleans delves into wrestling’s recent past and recounts how a region known for racial injustice became the home of the sport’s first black idol.

Editorial Reviews


"The text gives just enough insight into the twisted fugue state of professional wrestling without indulging in the sort of scathing indictment with which Chris Hedges has lambasted the industry. . . . The book makes for a smooth read, start to finish." —

"Pro wrestling fans will not be disappointed with this quick read and will be in for quite an unsuspecting treat and history lesson. Klein has ensured that future generations will not let this barrier-breaking, 'thump' dropping, larger-than-life superstar become a forgotten hero." —

"The fascinating tale of how the Deep South—a hotbed of racial intolerance—became the home of wrestling's most adored African-American idol in the '80s . . . [the book] is remarkable in its own right—a compelling and long-overdue tale of a man who deserves to be remembered as a pioneer and inspiration to many." —

"If you know of JYD, it's a fine book. If you never knew the Dog, it is a great story from start to finish." —

"For wrestling fans, The King of New Orleans is an easy book to recommend. In covering Junkyard Dog's five-year run as the major draw of a fondly-remembered territory, Klein documents the Dog's various feuds against The Freebirds, Ted Dibiase, Butch Reed, and others with a historian's precision." —


"The text gives just enough insight into the twisted fugue state of professional wrestling without indulging in the sort of scathing indictment with which Chris Hedges has lambasted the industry. . . . The book makes for a smooth read, start to finish." —

Product Details

  • File Size: 3433 KB
  • Print Length: 193 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00HP6R3FM
  • Publisher: ECW Press (June 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087GZDVA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #820,246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable June 14, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A unique journalistic perspective on the career of JYD, Mid South Wrestling and New Orleans in the early to mid 80's. My biggest quibble with the premise of the book is that JYD is a forgotten figure. If you ask any of my friends who watched mid-late 80's WWF Wrestling, they are likely to name JYD as one of the wrestlers they most remember. The book was a bit short for a work of its nature as I felt it could have been double the size. I recommend the book as I felt it is better than 70% of the wrestlings books out there (and I've read most of them).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What can I say, a great read, especially if you are a fan of Mid-South/UWF wrestling back in the day. Ask any Mid-South fan and they will loudly proclaim that Mid South Wrestling was the best wrestling program on the tube and that Junk Yard Dog ruled Louisiana in his day Strange as it may seem, he did more to improve race relations in this state than any other person of whom I can think. Even my father, a product of his times and an avowed racist was a big fan of JYD. The Dog stood for everything that was good about America, that courage, hard work, and fair play would overcome bigotry, cowardice, and evil in general. Though I never met the Dog in person several of my former students got to talk with him after matches where in light of his later problems in life, he always cautioned them against drug abuse. My mom even crafted a porcelan bulldog figurine we kept by the TV, christening it JYD. Wish things had worked out better for Sylvester Ritter, may he rest in peace, knowing that he was much loved by his fans and that he brought us all a little closer.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It is not what I expected November 1, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I applaud the author on his efforts because I thought a book on JYD was long overdue. Thus, I rated it a two for that reason only. However, I was really disappointed when I read the book. For example, I still don't have any idea about who Sylvester Ritter wa as a person. It makes scant references about his personal life and provides little to no insight into his family. It mentions his daughter but doesn't go into ANY depth about his relationship with her, her mother, (who apparently was his second wife), his first wife, or the other children that he supposedly fathered. Furthermore, it provides little insight on his drug problem or his apparent use of steroids. In summary, I would NOT recommend this book to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed November 29, 2012
I was a big fan of Midsouth Wrestling and was hoping to learn more about JYD and was disappointed. The history of the various wrestling territories was nothing new and did not break any new ground for me. I was hoping for an indepth look at JYD and more about his personal life and some stories of the road.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be bettered February 1, 2013
By Peter
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I must admit that being a biographer of a deceased person would not be an easy task, with each passing year the memories of that person would fade in the minds of the people who knew them.

That being said, one still needs to do the legwork to find the people that knew the subject and interview them.

In this book, the author presents a readable but very light biography of The Junkyard Dog, one of the most famous wrestlers of the 1980's. The book is a quick read and gives some interesting stories.

The problem is that it seems that the author did very little background work at all, we start off with him asking people about their memories of the Dog but after a few pages this stops and what we get is the author regurgitating the history of the JYD based on anecdotes and possible internet searching.

I got the feeling that the author did very little research into the JYD other than reading Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer and watching shoot interviews where the Dog is mentioned.

All in all, a nice read but one that could be bettered.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Over the past month or so I have had a chance to read Greg Klein's book on arguably Mid-South's biggest star, Sylvester Ritter, the Junkyard dog. The book covered the Junkyard Dog's time in Mid-South, as well as a pretty in depth history of Mid-South itself, Bill Watts, African American Stars and the like. It wasn't the longest book in the world clocking in at just 178 pages. However, it does an excellent job with the space it has.

The writing style of the book is very similar to that of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter historical pieces and obituaries, written in a manner that sees one topic branches seamlessly to the next, which, made it a free flowing, enjoyable and easy read.

There is a lot of information on Mid-South as a whole, with the history of the promotion being pretty much laid out from beginning to end - the history of the Tri-State territories and Watts' rise to prominence as a promoter. One thing that I found particularly useful was a chronological outline of many of Mid-South's Super Dome matches, which makes the book not only an interesting read, but also a good reference, with attendance, mainevents and gates for the shows being mentioned in full.

The book isn't about JYD alone, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand in 178 pages you are able to get a great account of Mid-South, the sale to Crockett and other Mid-South wrestlers both in JYD's era and the one that proceeded him. On the other hand the book is only 178 pages and because there is so much information on other topics it felt at times more like an overview of Mid-South, than a history of JYD's career.

This writing style served me well in particular, because I didn't grow up with Mid-South, nor was I completely familiar with its history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Junk
Reads like a long Wikipedia entry. Nothing really behind the scenes and written in a high school book report fashion. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Marlon V.
2.0 out of 5 stars Who is this book about?
Because it sure doesn't seem to be about the Junkyard Dog, Sylvester Ritter. For a self-proclaimed fan, Mr. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dean Lohmeyer
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip This One
Not much here. The author seems to have interviewed almost noone that actually knew Junkyard Dog. He takes a lot of information straight from Bill Watts' own book.. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paul Thorson
5.0 out of 5 stars JYD = World Champion
The Dog should have been the World Champion either AWA, WWE or NWA. Why this man never captured a title in the WWE was something weird.
Published 15 months ago by Kit Thermo
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Bio
Not only do you get the story of JYD's wrestling career, but you also are told of about the history of New Orleans in regards to professional wrestling during his time there and... Read more
Published 18 months ago by timmy dz
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
great book , always had been a big big fan of the JYD , full good info in this book
Published 19 months ago by Frank G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mid South Wrestling book long overdue.
Very good book! I grew up watching Mid South and the book brought back a lot of memories. The Junkyard Dog is not forgotten in North Louisiana!,
Published 22 months ago by bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining
If you're an old school wrestling fan, this is a great book that captures not only the best parts of the career of the Junkyard Dog but also some of the best years of the Mid South... Read more
Published 22 months ago by David E Houston II
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live The King JYD
This was a very telling book about the Junkyard Dog, I learned a lot that a did not know about the man. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Gary Hebb
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
It was a good read I got into wrestling because of the Junk Yard Dog it was nice to see the background story
Published on April 11, 2013 by jobby jamerson
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