One of the only books I know from a British wrestler is Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling by former world champion Billy Robinson. However, it’s much different than other pro wrestling books since it focuses a lot more on the catch-as-catch-can aspect than the sports entertainment we’ve come to enjoy.
Here is what I learned from Billy Robinson speaking about his time working for Joint Promotions in the UK, as well as in Sweden, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, Lebanon, India, Nepal, IWE & UWFi in Japan, Calgary, Hawaii and the AWA.
British Working Class Culture
The biggest piece of culture shock I read was how poor Robinson was in his youth. The working class of England back at that time had a low life expectancy and made extra money via side bets for private matches & street fights on weekends.
Eventually, his father told him to learn how to wrestle from the best (Billy Riley in what became known as the Snake Pit in Wigan) after being in so many fights.
As I said, a lot of the book is about catch-as-catch-can wrestling, from the holds to the strategy a good wrestler needs to have. He also delves into how it influenced the birth of mixed martial arts (MMA).
It’s interesting how a good wrestler’s mind has to work, taking every angle and approach into consideration. I kind of see this in pro wrestling in the strategy behind wrestling different matches. And how working with good veterans (old timers as Robinson called them) can help you learn so many lessons.
Other Lessons I Learned
- Forgetting you’re of your own culture to try & immerse yourself in another culture when in a foreign country
- The difference between European wrestling and American politics
- You have to wrestle & train like a wrestler to be a good wrestler
Billy Robinson’s Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling really spoke more about how catch wrestling was superior to the pro wrestling of today than actually delving into pro wrestling.