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Wrestling with the Devil Hardcover – April 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Gemelli Press LLC; 0002- edition (April 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982102399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982102398
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,563,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wrestling with the Devil is an entrancing tale of perseverance, hard work and the pursuit of the American Dream. My reverie was broken only by surges of inspiration to make the best out of my life.'' --Jason Quick, The Oregonian

"This work is an important contribution to the world of wrestling and a must-read for enthusiasts of the sport." --Curley Culp, Professional Football Player, NCAA Wrestling Champion, 1967 Arizona State University

"This wonderful book captures the whole of the immigrant experience in America, the bravado, the ingenuity, the struggle for survival, and most of all, the grace and strength of the Italian-American family.  Oral history at its most thrilling." --Merridawn Duckler, Senior Fellow, The Attic Institute  Portland, Oregon

From the Author

The Russo children and grandchildren have long been listening to me tell stories of my childhood in Italy, my journey to the United States, and my experiences in the sport of wrestling.  Even though I always changed the main character's name, I always fell into the trap of ending the story with, "You want to see the scar?"  It never took any of them very long to figure out it was me.  Wrestling with the Devil has been born as a result of these stories in hopes of inspiring others by sharing the struggles I endured and would eventually overcome.
     Being sent away from the only home and country I knew, crossing the Atlantic alone as a child, kicked my ten-year-old psyche into survival mode.  Along the way, more than once my life story could have easily taken an undesirable turn, and many times I did start down a path in the wrong direction.  Somehow, something kept me grounded.  A driving force kept me focused and that is what began to define my life.  Looking back now, it's easy to see what it was:  my roots deeply seated in the Old World - the importance of family, discipline, and hard work.
     When you work hard, good things happen.  One of my mother's favorite quotes has been branded in my subconscious and rises to the surface almost every day.  She was right.
     I have spent the last few years digging deeper and recounting my experiences in detail in the form of interviews conducted by my daughter.  Many of the stories, which on the surface may have appeared funny and light-hearted as presented to my family, actually cut deeply, and over the years I have battled the demons as they have reared their ugly heads, one by one.
     We all have demons to battle throughout the journey of our lives and it is my hope that by sharing my conflicts as well as my triumphs, it will make a difference for anyone who has ever had doubts or has ever thought about giving up.
                                                          
                                                                           Antonio Russo
                                                        Obstacles cannot crush me.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I think anyone who has wrestled will enjoy this book.
Everett Knott
His story is a real inspiration for young people to stay out of trouble and to pursue their dream.
Joanne Odermott
I love the mixture of wrestling stories along with his personal life stories.
Michelle L. Lutz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By noow7 on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly inspirational story that made me laugh, cry and cheer, but this story is so much more. Infused with Italian food and red wine throughout it will make you want to sit with a glass of your favorite vino while turning the pages!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By LMJH on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I LOVED this book! I found it hard to put down as I had to know what was going to happen next to this little guy from Italy. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, but ultimately triumphant, this tender and true tale is a beautiful testimony to the worthy struggle that is The American Dream.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Gillaspie on June 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1951 two books arrived that made a splash that keeps moving up the shoreline. Jack Kerouac finished writing On The Road, which was published in 1957, and J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher In The Rye, published in '51.

1951 is also the year Antonia Russo left Italy for America, a ten year old boy who didn't speak English seeking the life his family wanted for him.

While Wrestling With The Devil sounds like a book about sports, it's also a portrait of America many writers gloss over. Author Tonya Russo didn't create a character like Holden Caulfield to lead a narrative, or one like Dean Moriarty to drive.

Instead, she has the ten year old boy who was her father peeling back layers of American society looking for the place he might call home.

With the skills of a seasoned writer, Russo paints a picture coast to coast, from New York to Portland, Oregon, and what it means to finally belong.

Wrestling With The Devil is a book for readers interested in the immigrant experience from a different angle, as well as social history fans seeking insight into how families work together. Russo loads up the plate with the tastiest of literary delights and delivers even more.

This is a book to cheer for on each page, as if she took Elmore Leonard's advice to heart and left out the parts we usually skim over. How does a lost in the crowd boy grow into a coach worthy of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame? Find out in a story worth telling and re-telling to both children and adults.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Everett Knott on May 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am good ..friends with this wrestler, and share his work ethic. I think anyone who has wrestled will enjoy this book. His work ethic message I wish could be instilled in our lazy, obese, society. Read this book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Arlene Antoinette Gibbs on July 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I know very little about the sport of wrestling, yet I couldn't put this book down.

Tonya Russo Hamilton and Tony Russo have written a moving memoir about the American immigrant experience in the '50 and '60s.

Imagine being ten years old. You are sent to New York City from a tiny Southern Italian town leaving behind your family. You don't speak English or formal Italian. You're told that relatives in New York will take care of you and that life in America will be better.

That is not what happened.

Tony/Antonio's struggles to assimilate and his feelings of abandonment almost send him down a hole he cannot climb out of.

Wrestling saves Tony's life. It gives him a sense of purpose.

Even if you don't care about sports, I recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By eyeman on May 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A must read for all ages to understand the true meaning of what being an American citizen is really about. How if you really want to acheive a goal in life it is possible with dedication and hard work. Maybe if more people read this book we would move away from the dangerous path where society thinks they are owed something. They are partially right.....what they are owed is an opportunity. Hats off to the author for capturing the true essence of what is possible. Can't wait for her next book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mrrosy on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having taught at Newberg School District, Tony Russo was a fellow teacher of mine. After hearing about the book, I was very interested in reading about a fellow teacher. I was not disappointed in the least. I learned many things about Tony's life that I knew little or nothing about. Tony was definitely a great coach and teacher in every thing he pursued. It was easy reading and hard to put down. Tonya Hamilton did a great job in writing about her dad.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Judith Greenwood on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There is a lot of talk of the American dream, does it live still, was it ever real? This book is the real story. Antonio Russo wasn't sitting in southern Italy dreaming of America, he was being a kid, having a life, expecting it to always be as it was then. He probably didn't even realize that they were poor, he and his large family. But Antonio Russo was even then American and his parents knew he needed to live in America to maintain his citizenship. So they sent him alone to New York City.

It becomes clear throughout the book that his parents didn't really have an idea why being American was important for him or what that even meant, but they were sure it had value and as so much in their lives did not have value they snatched at this. Antonio was to pay the price for their ambitions. The story you will want to read for yourselves. I read it straight through without even sleeping.

He is not the Abe Lincoln of Italian-American immigrants. Oh no. He came close several times to blowing the entire effort, but so many adults had failed him in one way or the other, it's no wonder he wasn't sure of his own worth. He's an extraordinary boy, this Antonio. He has such a grasp of what is good, what will lead to happiness, that continents can't stand in his way. His instinct that doing what he is good at is more important than making quick money has some powerful opposition, but he prevails.

What is right about this book is its honesty and emotion. He remembers how it felt and that sets it apart from just another story. I know nothing about wrestling but I think that if you do you will enjoy this book even more.

Overall, this is the kind of story we seldom hear nowadays and yet it is so satisfying to throw off the blinkers of pessimism and see how becoming American is done when it is done really, really well. Bravi papa' and Tonya.
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