"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.