First published in 1988, Drawing Heat was one of the first books to really give the public a glimpse behind the scenes of the world of professional wrestling. Jim Freedman, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario who also consults on international development for the United Nations, CIDA, and international NGOs, seems an unlikely candidate to write a book on such a subject, but he paints a captivating portrait of the sport.
Freedman s primary goal was to chronicle the drama of the sport from the viewpoint of a wrestling fan, but in the process, got much more than he ever expected. During the course of interviewing several participants, he was invited to become a part of Big Bear Promotions, and the book become the story about the demise of a local wrestling promotion being swallowed up by multi-national business interests.
Welcomed into the inner circle by nearly everyone associated with the promotion, Jim presents an insiders look at what it took to promote a small, independent wrestling show ... putting the show together, setting up the ring, counting the money and balancing the books, ring announcing, dealing with sports commissioners who are in the pocket of the big wrestling companies, and what it is that lures wrestling fans into the arenas.
Filled with wonderful characters, the action in this book far outweighs anything seen in the ring today. Dave "The Wildman" McKigney, the main character, is the owner of the Big Bear company, and the struggles and tragedies he faces become the focus of the narrative. Known for traveling with his wrestling bears, one of the most heartbreaking stories in the entire book details the account of McKigney s girlfriend when she is mauled to death by one of them.
In addition to the original text and a bonus of 70 beautiful black-and-white photographs, this reprinting features two additions:
An interview with the author: Jim Freedman
Conducted in 2009, the interview takes readers behind the scenes of the writing of the book and brings them up to date with the events which followed the book s publication in 1988.
The Final, Fateful Bearman Tour
Told by his fellow wrestlers, this is the story about the final days and tragic death of the Wildman and several others wrestlers in July 1988. The story includes interviews with several wrestlers who were in the territory at the time: Phil Watson (the son of Whipper Watson), Hartford Love, Willie "Wolfman" Farkuks, Rocky Della Serra, Ricky Johnson, Steve Ocean, and Sweet Daddy Siki.
You don t have to know, or even care, about wrestling to enjoy this book. This is more than just a book about wrestling. It is a glimpse into a secret world unknown to most people ... a world filled with larger-than-life characters and captivating events.
Excerpt from Chapter 9: Postscript
Copyright © Jim Freedman
In Toronto, a new athletic Commissioner took office. He was like his predecessor in the way he handled Dave, except he was even more intent on ending Dave s career. In mid-season, 1985, he took Dave to court on the charge that the wrestling bear was a menace to the public. Dave could not afford the litigation, and the Commissioner knew it. Even the judge suggested to the Commissioner that since the charges were insubstantial, and the cost to McKigney for his own defense would be high, perhaps the Commissioner should drop the case. It looked to me like the Commissioner was taking orders from Tunney. He carried on with the case against McKigney and the bear. The judge did not agree. He said McKigney had been wrestling with the bear for thirty years, no reason to stop him now. The Commissioner lost the case.