Crowbar Press

 
Raising Cain: From Jimmy Ault to Kid McCoy
Raising Cain: From Jimmy Ault to Kid McCoy
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PUBLISHER
Crowbar Press

PUBLICATION DATE
October 24, 2020

6x9 Perfect Bound

Pages: 280

Words: 152, 555

Photos: 161 b&w

Cover: Full color

ISBN: 978-1-940391-33-5

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The book that's been two decades in the making!

Raising Cain: From Jimmy Ault to Kid McCoy by Frankie Cain & Scott Teal

Synopsis  |  Excerpts  |  Chapter Titles  |  Reviews  |  Media Appearances  |  Crowbar Press

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"Antone Leone got John Swenski on the floor between the lockers and the bench and pounded on his head.  Antone wasn’t any kind of an outstanding wrestler, but he was on top, and Swenski couldn’t move because he was wedged between the lockers and the bench.  Of course, that’s the way it always was.  Anytime one of the wrestlers got into a scrap, it always wound up in a street-fight."
Frankie Cain

If you ask any pro wrestler who plied their trade during the '50s and '60s who they consider to be the top minds in the wrestling business, invariably the name Frankie Cain will appear at the top of the list, and Frankie has a keen recollection of things that happened in the wrestling business from the 1940s until wrestling evolved into what we know today as "sports entertainment."

But Frankie's story isn't only about his life as a wrestler.  It's a fascinating journey that began when he was just plain Jimmy Ault, living on the Depression-era streets of downtown Columbus, Ohio — learning hustles and cons from the Gypsies, sleeping on rooftops, and selling anything he could — all simply to keep from starving.  He came into his own and finally began to earn a decent living when the prostitutes in Cherry Alley convinced him to work as their protector against the dangers they faced on the streets.  Frankie, having fought on the streets almost every day of his young life, was born for the job.

Frankie tells about his discovery of pro wrestling and how he helped form the Toehold club, where young boys could mimic and learn the pro style.  But it was his introduction to and training by tough shooter Frank Wolfe that set him on a path that would have him fighting in smoker clubs, athletic shows on carnivals, and eventually, pro wrestling.  However, the majority of Frankie's early years were spent fighting on the road ... going into towns under assumed names and fighting ranked boxers.  What his opponents didn't realize, though, was that he was there to “put them over,” i.e. make them look good and give them a win to enhance their record.  While they were trying to knock Frankie out, he was fighting back, but only enough to make it look like a real contest before he did what the promoters brought him there to do.

Frankie's story — presented in his voice just as he shared it with Scott Teal — will transport you back to a time of the true legends of both boxing and wrestling.  Brutal, honest, and often hilarious, Raising Cain is an amazing look at the life and career of a self-made man who lived his life as none other.

Note:  This first volume of Frankie's autobiography covers the years 1932 to 1960.  Volume 2, which should be available early 2021, will continue the story from late 1961 to the present.


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Autographs
Excerpts from Inside Out

SHINING RAY STEELE'S SHOES
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  I used to shine Ray Steele's shoes when he came to Columbus to wrestle.  I was set up right outside the Clock Restaurant, which was in the building where Al Haft [Columbus wrestling promoter] had his office.  [161 N. High St.]  I shined one shoe.  "You want the other one shined?"
  He said, "What?"
  "You want the other shoe shined?"
  "Well, h— yes!"
  "Okay, give me another nickel."
  He said, "It's says ‘Shoe Shine, 5¢.'"
  "Yes, per shoe."
  (laughs)  They called shoe-shine boys "bootblacks".  He said, "I'm reporting you to the Boot Black Society!  I'm gonna have you arrested!  I'm going to testify against you!  Where's the pay phone at?"

LIVING ON THE STREETS OF COLUMBUS, OHIO, AS AN ORPHAN
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  One of my hustles was to stand in the doorway of a bar, and when I would see a couple of women, or one woman, approaching, I would stumble out of the doorway and fall out on the street.  She would say, "Oh, my dear."  All the women came down to High Street to shop.  They could buy fresh vegetables right off the farm.  Shopkeepers lined the sidewalk for two or three blocks.  The restaurants piped music outside.  It was a colorful, beautiful place.  Anyway, I'd fall out on the street and I would grab my knee and roll around.  "Oh, my dear.  What happened?"   I'd act like I was about to cry and say, "I was in there trying to get my dad.  He's in there drinking.  The bouncer threw me out.  I gotta get home and tell Mom there ain't no money.  He won't give me any money."
  She would say, "Oh, I'm sorry.  I've got to catch a bus and go back up north and …"
  I'd say, "That's okay.  I don't know what I'm going to do."
  She'd say, "Here, honey.  Let me give you this."  She would give me 50 cents, or a dollar.  I'd play that out in different sections of the neighborhood.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

GYPSIES, TRAMPS & THIEVES
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  When Gypsy girls get caught [shoplifting], they switch everything around.  When somebody confronts them — a store manager or a floorwalker — they go to the floor.  They grab his hands, put them around their neck, and fall to the floor, bringing the guy with ‘em with his hands still around their throat.  Men and women Gypsies would do that!  Women are more effective ... and they scream!  The guy's tryin' to get loose and the people are goin', "You dirty bastard!  Get off her!  Leave her alone!"  They pull him off her and during the commotion, BANG!  She's gone!

LEARNING DANGEROUS MOVES FROM FRANK WOLFE
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  Frank Wolfe showed me something I could use when I wrestled — or fought — that would guarantee I wouldn't lose.   When your opponent throws a fist at you, you duck under his elbow, duck under his arm, and your footwork has to be so it leaves you far enough away — say, three feet away — so you can throw your knee up and aim for the spot a little to the side of your opponent's knee.  I didn't just hit the muscle, but I lifted the muscle.  You have to lift the muscle in order to be effective with the move.  If you just bang into the knee, bone-against-bone, it's gonna hurt you.  You aim for the muscle just above the knee and drive it upward. (laughs)  When you do that, it pushes the muscle up and it tears the fiber away from the bone.  As soon as it's done, you can see the damage because blood pools there.

HANGING AROUND THE WRESTLING OFFICE AS A KID
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  Another thing Al Haft did was print up flyers on cheap pulp with the lineup ... listing who was wrestling that night.  People threw them down all over the floor at the old Memorial Hall.  After the matches, Treach and I would pick up all those programs ... stacks of ‘em.  We'd take them, wet ‘em under the faucet, and make soggy balls out of them.  We'd wait for Antone Leone to walk by, or walk outside, and we'd bombard him with them soggy, wet programs.  He wore a big overcoat and he'd use it like a shield.  He was an ugly cuss and would holler at us.  Actually, he was playing along, but we thought he was serious.  We'd throw them at the other wrestlers, too, and run like crazy.  I was only ten years old, but ornery as hell.  In the wintertime, we'd throw snowballs at Antone.  He'd say, "I'll get you kids!  When I do, it's gonna be destruction ...!" (laughs)  It was like he was doing an interview — a promo — right there on the street!  We were scared to death.  We thought he was nuts.  Then Antone found out what our names were.

HARDSHIPS FACED BY VETERAN WRESTLERS
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  When [Frank Wolfe] worked with us kids, he showed us some stuff that would work ... and it did work.  We'd show him what we knew, and he'd correct us and show us ways to do things that were more effective.  He'd show us how to drop down to get away from the power.  He'd say, "Go for the ankles!"  Those guys like Frank knew how to hurt you.  Unfortunately, no one wanted to use ‘em.  The promoters wouldn't use ‘em because they were afraid they'd beat their top guys, so a lot of those poor guys starved.  Part of it was because those guys were temperamental.  Years ago, if they [promoters] asked a guy to do a job [purposely lose a match], they'd go home and sit down for a week to think about it. (laughs)  You could probably hear the promoter in the office a week later, "Call that guy and see if he decided to do that job." (laughs)

BUDDY ROGERS
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  I traveled a lot with Buddy Rogers.  I didn't have a driver's license, but he let me drive his Cadillac.  I was workin' on preliminaries and in small towns by that time, so I really wasn't makin' any money.  He wouldn't charge me any transportation and he'd buy my meals.  We'd be talkin' about wrestling and he'd say (pause) ... and I never heard anyone say this about themselves.  He'd say, "I'm the greatest worker in the business.  You know that, don't you?"
  I'd grin and say, "What about [the original] Mephisto?"
  He'd hesitate, then he'd turn and look at me.  He'd say, "I'm the second-greatest worker in the business, you know."  Then he'd grin.

SHOOTS AT AL HAFT'S GYM
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  If someone like Stu Hart came in, if they showed that they knew something, the boys would work out with them.  You weren't allowed to do any working moves, though, until they saw you were sincere, and then only if the doors were locked.
  Sure enough, Stu showed up at the gym and he says, "Anybody want to work out?"  Bob Cummings was there that day, but he didn't answer.  He had been working out and was just sitting on a bench.  Speedy LaRance always was there.  He was laying down on the bench and he said "Oh, just pick someone."
  Well, Bob Cummings could beat you just by reaching for you.  He came with a reputation, but Stu didn't know that.  Bob had a funny body, like a little potbelly.  He had no shoulders and they slanted way down, and little arms.  He had a pretty good neck, but he didn't look tough.
  So who did Stu pick?  Bob Cummings.  I don't know if Stu thought Cummings looked weak, but that's who he picked.  I thought to myself, "Oh, my god.  I hope he's tough."
  Bob beat him about three times, one right after another.  Made him submit twice, and then pinned him.  Cummings had Stu screaming.  I believe Luther would have done the same thing.

MEMORIES OF KARL GOTCH
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  It was wintertime and Haft was running Columbus and a few other spots.  [Karl] Gotch told me he was starving to death.  Al was trying to groom Gotch and was trying to convince Sam Muchnick to make him the world champion.  Part of the reason why promoters wouldn't use Gotch was because they didn't trust him.  He was temperamental and he hated almost everybody, especially Jews.  Strangely enough, the person he liked the most was Larry Simon, a Jew, who wrestled as the Great Malenko.  Gotch hated Jim Barnett, though, to a point where he looked into his background to see if he could find something that might cause him [Barnett] trouble.  Barnett was his pet peeve.

THE MONSTER
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  One time, Al Haft brought in a wrestler called the French Angel and Ali invited him over one Sunday.  I didn't know who the French Angel was.  I had never even heard of him and I had never seen a picture.  I didn't even know he existed.   I went over to Ali's house that afternoon.  They always invited me over for Sunday dinner.  When I got there, I told Ali, "I've gotta pee."
  I didn't know that the French Angel was there … and he was in the bathroom.  When I reached for the doorknob, the door opened … and there he was.  I didn't move.  I couldn't move.  I was paralyzed. (laughs)  I was just a 12-year-old punk kid.  I saw that head and I just froze.  He just stood there and looked at me, eye to eye.

DEALING WITH THE VETERAN WRESTLERS
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  Well, even when I started working, the old-timers [wrestlers] didn't want to give you too much.  You would have to kind of look after yourself to get any respect from them.  They was worrying about the promoters or some of the boys watching, and they would get testy.  They would get you down and hold you down, and you'd have a lousy match.  Of course, the promoters would ask them why they had such a bad match, and the old-timers would tell them, "Well, the guy was trying to move against me."  The promoters would take their word for it and, consequently, didn't want you back.  So to try to get a match out of the guy, you had to take a lot from them.

FIGHTING IN THE SMOKERS
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  The smokers were more like the mixed martial arts you see today, but the wrestling was limited, even though they called the smokers ‘mixed boxing-wrestling."  They didn't use terms like ‘mixed martial arts."  They didn't use that terminology.  They just said ‘free-for-all" and shoved your butt in there.  The fighters would just beat the hell out of each other.  There wasn't no dancing or playing around.  Guys would kick you, slam both hands upside your head …  man, there wasn't no wrestling!  They didn't really know how to fight, either, and it was hell to pay!  One of the things I learned is that a guy could be a natural fighter, but there's no such thing as a natural wrestler.  Well, there is such a thing, but it's very rare.  Wrestling has to be taught.  You have to learn balance.  But the thing is, Abe Sachrinoff didn't want sophisticated boxers in the smokers.  He wanted street fighters because that's what the people wanted to see.  You could make $50 a night, but you always took a chance of getting your head knocked off.

WRESTLING ON THE CARNIVAL ATHLETIC [AT] SHOWS
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  A lot of the pro wrestling promoters in the South tried to run in the summertime, but they just didn't draw.  Most of the buildings weren't air conditioned.  It was just too hot, so when the carnivals came through, the local promoters would tell a few of their boys, "Let's go over and set up a tent and you guys be out milling around."  He'd have one of the wrestlers as the inside man and the rest would just happen to be there.  If that sounds goofy, you're right.  It was goofy.  When the stickman was up on the bally doing his pitch, he'd look out in the crowd and say, "Hey, I see so-and-so over there!  What are you doing here?  Come over here!  Here's your old opponent!"  That was such cornball BS.  The people smelled a rat.  They knew what was going on.  They weren't drawing anything, either.  Then they started bringing in the hookers and the shooters — guys that could handle themselves — to take challenges from the crowd.  Well, that backfired on ‘em because them wrestlers started breaking legs, breaking arms, and hurting people.  They had lawsuits … oh, god.

LIFE ON THE CARNIVAL
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  There was something about the carny, Scott, that you wanted to get away from.  At first, it was sort of romantic.  You know how kids were back then.  It was like every boy's dream to work in a circus or a carnival, but it didn't take long to make you realize that it wasn't everything it was cracked up to be.  There was something about it that you didn't like … the never-ending music, hot, sweaty nights, no dressing room, no showers, sitting on a stool rather than a comfortable chair.  It was just all the inconvenience.
  Very primitive.  Primitive.  Before you start making any money, you have to sleep on the Jenny ride.  You were in a bad mood half the time and you wanted to get away.  When we did make some money, it was a luxury to get a nice hotel room where we could get a good shower.  The trucks had water tanks.  That where we went and washed off, but it was nothing like a nice, hot shower.

DOING JOBS FOR BOXERS
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  For the most part, if it was a shoot, they wouldn't say a word to you.  If they don't talk to you, you know you had to fight the guy.  You know it's a shoot.  Even when it was a put-over job, the promoter doesn't just come right out and say, "Now, you go down in the sixth round."  That's what wrestling promoters did.  It was more secretive in boxing.  The boxing promoter didn't want to get mixed up with you and said as little as possible.  They didn't want to commit themselves.  He'd be more guarded.  They'd be talking to you about something and, all of a sudden, they'd throw in, "Well, I don't think we'll see the seventh round tonight," meaning you dump the fight in the sixth round.  So the guy comes out of his corner and he thinks he's fighting a rated fighter, even if it's number 40, or whatever.  He's coming after you.  Now I've got to carry this bastard for five or six rounds while he's trying to kill me.  That was hard.  And you had to be in fit physical condition at all times.  You're fighting guys with reputations — 22, 23 wins — so you had to look the part and be in damn good shape.
Did the [boxing] promoters ever ask you to work a fight?
  No, never.  I did that on my own.  I never worked a fight until I went on the road and started fighting, doing jobs.  Even then, as long as I was fighting, I never seen a promoter ever go up to a guy — and the boys [pro wrestlers] don't believe this, but it's the truth — I never seen a promoter come up and say, ‘You have to lose tonight," or anything like that.  No, that kind of thing had to be negotiated and was really a kayfabe thing.  It had to be, or everything would just go to hell ... especially with the commissions.  I'll get deeper into this later, but it was a felony to fix a fight.

ROCKY GRAZIANO
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  They had to put [Rocky Graziano] in line a couple of times when he was boxing.  I guess he got a little cocky.  They made him middleweight champion.  [Tony] Zale put him over.  [Chicago, July 16, 1947]  Graziano actually told me a lot of this.  After six months or so, he was demanding more money.  They said, "Well, we're gonna return that fight with Zale."  Zale clobbered the s— out of him.  He was humble after that.
A couple of years before Graziano won the title, there was a guy named Harold Green who beat Graziano twice.
  Green was a shooter.  That was the other time they used a policeman to put Graziano in his place.  I don't want this to sound like a knock because Graziano was a friend, but Green beat him because they had to snap him back in line by showing him that he couldn't fight.  Well, he could fight, but there were guys who were better fighters, but were never put over because they lacked color.  If I remember correctly, they fought a third time and Graziano went over.

FRIENDSHIP WITH EDDIE GRAHAM
Copyright © Frankie Cain & Scott Teal
  Eddie and I had been big buddies before.  He used to have a big, old Packard, or something like a touring car.  We used to ride around through Tennessee together.  We used to sleep in it and eat hamburgers together.  We were just kids.  That's when he was still working as Eddie Gossett.  Then, later on, he became Rip Rogers in Amarillo.  I had bummed around with him and we always talked about (pause) ... you know how kids are.  If you could do this, if you could do that, how you would change things.  He would always say, "If I ever own a territory, you'll be the first one I'll call."  We used to ride along, like everybody did, and talk about how bad promoters were, what's wrong with wrestling, how to change it, how you'd be good to the boys.  Sure enough, Eddie made himself a lot of money, but he got to be just like the other promoters.  Roy Shire did the same thing.

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Chapter titles and contents

Acknowledgements
Foreword by Frankie Cain
Introduction by Scott Teal


1  The Boot Black Society
Subjects will be posted here soon!

2  The Keystone Cops
Subjects will be posted here soon!

3  Skeleton Keys
Subjects will be posted here soon!

4  Kid Meshugen
Subjects will be posted here soon!

5  Gypsies, Tramps and Thieve
Subjects will be posted here soon!

6  Cherry Bombs
Subjects will be posted here soon!

7  Wintergreen Rubdown Tobacco
Subjects will be posted here soon!

8  Mephisto
Subjects will be posted here soon!

9  The Alabama Kid
Subjects will be posted here soon!

10  Stretch Marks
Subjects will be posted here soon!

11  Third-Floor Love Nest
Subjects will be posted here soon!

12  The Monster
Subjects will be posted here soon!

13  Fourdecai Bank
Subjects will be posted here soon!

14  Hoochie Coochie
Subjects will be posted here soon!

15  Madam Oink
Subjects will be posted here soon!

16  The Bowery Boys
Subjects will be posted here soon!

17  Multiple Personality Disorder
Subjects will be posted here soon!

18  Cuttin’ Heads
Subjects will be posted here soon!

Index

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Autographs
Index
$64,000 Challenge
20th Century Gym
5th Street Gym
Ackles, Kenny
Akbar, Scandor
Alabama Kid
Ali, Muhammed
Aliba, Ali
Aliba, Geri
Ally the Alligator Man
Angel, French
Arcaro, Eddie
Arizona heavyweight title
Assirati, Bert
AT shows
Ault, Christine
Austeri, Jim
Azteca, Charro
Bacalis, Nick
Baer Jr., Max
Baer, Buddy
Baer, Max
Barnett, Jim
Bastien, Red
Becker, Bobby
Becker, George
Benson, Chuck
Bernstein, Ida
Black Demon
Black Napoleon
Black, Julian
Blackstone family
Blair, Jackie
Blake, Bob
Blears, Lord
Bloom, Lou
Boardman, Sam
Bollas, George
Borge, Victor
Borne, Tony
Bowery Boys
Bowser, Paul
boxing
Boyer, Janet
Boys' Industrial School
Brenner, Farmer
Brisebois, Rocky
Brown, Orville
Buresh, Stanley
Burke, Mildred
Burley, Charley
Burns, Farmer
Cantonwine, Howard
Cardinal, Dick
Carlin, Johnny
Carnera, Primo
carnivals
Caroly, Al
Carreon, Tito
Carson, Sunset
Causeway Arena
Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum
Charles, Ezzard
Cherry Alley
Chewacki, Chief
Chittenden Hotel
Cholak, Moose
Christie, Joe
Christy, Ted
Christy, Vic
Clancy, Mike
Clock Restaurant
Cobb, Nate
Columbo, Rocco
coney island (hot dog stand)
Conway, Steven
Coral Gables Coliseum
Cortez, Rita
Craven, Johnny
Crockett Sr., Jim
Culkin (Curtis), George
Cummings, Bob
Curry, Bull
Curtis Jr., Jack
Curtis, Jack
Daniels, Gipsy (Billy)
Darnell, Billy
Davis, Johnny
Davis, Wee Willie
Delgado, Ray
DeMarce, Bob
Demchuck, Johnny
Demetral, Jimmy
Dempsey, Jack
Dennison, Billy
Deshler, Wallach Hote
DeTardo, Tommy
Dillon, Gabe (Jack)
Dillon, Jack
Dinner Key Auditorium
Don George, Ed
Dugan, Mickey
Dundee, Angelo
  Dundee, Chris
Dunn, Roy
Dusek, Danny
Dykes, Bobby
Dykes, J.C. (Jimmy)
Eagle, Don
Eckstrom, Doc
Elitch, Nick
Elroy, Jack
Fabiani, Ray
Farese, Al
Fargo, Jackie
Feltheim, Mutt (Julius)
Fields, Lee
Ford, Bobby
Fox, Billy
Francis, Pat
Fredericks, Casey
Freeman, Ace
Freeman, Art
Freeman, Herbie
French, James
Fuller, Bobby
Fuller, Buddy
Fulton, Fred
Gainsford, George
Galento, Mario
Garcia, Al
Gardini, Benito
Garibaldi, Chick
Gator Man, The
George (Wagner), Gorgeous
George, Pinkie
Georgia Championship Wrestling
Getz, Joe
Giamarco (family)
Giardello, Joey
Glenn, Jimmy
Godoy 92
Godoy, Arturo
Goheen, Fuzzy (Earl)
Gossett, Eddie
Gotch, Karl
Gotch, Young (Haft, Al)
Graham, Eddie
Grant, Gorgeous George
Graziano, Rocky
Green, Harold
Guerrero, Gory
Gulas, Nick
Gunkel, Ray
Guy, Jack
Gypsies
Hady, Jim
Haft, Al
Haft's Acre
Hamilton, Larry
Hammer, Herman
Harris, Dave
Hart, Stu
Hartman Theatre
Hartman, Ben
Hayes, Ben
Henry, Goon (Jim)
Henry, Jim (Goon)
Hessell, Gordon
Hickey, Frank
Hi, Fulton Grill
Hill, Kate
Hilltop Institution
Hines, Billy Boy
Hodge, Danny
Hollywood Legion Stadium
Hudkins, Ace
Huffman, Les
Humphrey, Happy
Inferno, The
Infernos, The
Ishikawa, Yasutoshi
Jenkins, Bobby
Jenkins, Jimmy
Jewish Theater
Joe, Gypsy
Johnson, Jack
Johnson, Press (Rocky)
Johnson, Steven
Jojo the Dog, Faced Boy
Jonathan, Don Leo
Jones, Buzz
Joshua, Anthony
Kallio, Gus
Kalt, Don
Kaplan, Gabe
Karahan, Nash
Karasick, Al
Karras, Gust
Kasaboski, Alex
Kates, Basil
Kauffman, Clete
Kellogg, Karen
Kelsey, Kenny
Kent, Don
Ketonen, Waino
  Kilonis, John
King, Al
Kirilenko, Leon
Knielsen, Stocky
Kolln, Henry
Kowalski, Stan
Krauser, Karol
Kulkovich, Henry
LaMotta, Jake
Langford, Sam
Lansdowne, Lord Patrick
LaRance, Speed (Jules)
LaRue, Lash
Lawler, Jerry
Lebelle, Larry (see Aliba, Ali)
LeBelle, Pierre
Lee, Buddy
Leone, Antone
Levinsky, Kingfish
Lewis, Bill
Lewis, Ed (Strangler)
Lewis, Roy
Lex's Live Wrestling
Light, Harry
Lindsay, Luther
Liston, Sonny
Little Wolf, Chief
Londos, Jimmy
Louis, Joe
Lutteroth, Salvador
Luttrall, Cowboy (C.P.)
Madam Oink
Madison Square Garden
Malenko, The Great
Malone, Pat
Mancini, Boom Boom (Lenny)
Mancini, Boom Boom (Ray)
Marciano, Rocky
Marrs, Johnny
Martin, Jimmy
Martin, Schoolboy
Martinelli, Angelo
Massey, Al
Mature, Victor
Mauler, The Missouri
Maupin, Cliff
Mazurki, Mike
McAllister, Tex
McCloud, Curly (Don)
McCoy, Kid
McDowd, Midget Mike
McGee, Mike
McGrath, Jack
McGuirk, LeRoy
McHone, James
McMahon, Jess
McShain, Danny
Memorial Hall
Menacker, Sam
Mephisto (original)
Miller Bros. carnival
Miller, Bill
Miller, Larry
Mills Restaurant
Moleno, Django
Mondt, Toots
Monroe, Sputnik
Moolah, Fabulous
Moore, Archie
Moran, Sailor
Morris, Gentleman Dan
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  I'll preface this by mentioning I'm a lifetime pro wrestling "mark" and also a big fan of Crowbar Press and the work being done by Scott Teal.  I've bought and read over a dozen of his books, but none has moved me more than "Raising Cain."
  I was initially struck by how similar my background is to Scott's.  I, too, was and remain a music nerd.  I marched in HS band, played in the concert and stage bands, and went to band camps.  But what really got me was when he mentioned getting hooked by the tag team of the Infernos, with their villainous manager J.C. Dykes.  Scott first saw them on a band trip to Tallahassee.  My first exposure was on Championship Wrestling TV out of Charlotte, NC, circa 1966.  The loaded boot!  The fireballs!  The quick tags and amazing combination of legit wrestling, cowardly heel work, and the cheating manager.  They were the heels I loved to hate!
  I couldn't wait for Saturday afternoons.  Becker and Weaver, the long-time babyfaces, The Flying Scotts from Canada, Amazing Zuma, ever-clumsy Tex McKenzie, Nelson Royal, Les Thatcher, young Bobby Shane, and later Paul Jones.
  But the heel teams were the most fun to watch.  Besides the Inferno's, we had Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, and Aldo Bogni and Bronco Lubich with the evil Homer O'Dell.  The list went on!
  I had no idea that Frankie Cain — later to be known as the Great Mephisto — was under the mask as Inferno #1.  But this book tells of Frankie's childhood and development as a street fighter, boxer, and later wrestler.  His story takes place in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived for three years in the mid ‘90s.  Seeing the vintage pictures, and the vivid stories of Columbus during the Depression and the war years is great stuff for a history nut like myself.
  Then it seemingly kept getting more personal.  My father's father, who I'm named after, had a background in St. Louis that was strikingly similar to Frankie's.  One of 16 kids, he was an illiterate German immigrant who had to hustle every day for shelter and food, which often meant doing favors for and participating in crimes with mob members.
  Frankie's stories — of trying to stay warm in the winter, finding safe spots to sleep, and fighting literally ever day — sounded like my grandpa's story being told.
  Frankie Cain came up rough, and in this book, Scott has done a brilliant job of prompting Frankie with poignant questions that unlocked old memories.  The cadence in the way Frankie speaks really sets the tone for this harrowing account of survival during a time of national crisis.
  Similar to my grandfather, Frankie didn't know his own birth date, and was uncertain of his exact age.  He couldn't read or write, either.  It really moved me to imagine my own flesh and blood in a similar struggle.
  By age 15 or so, Frankie began working the carnival circuit on the AT shows — predecessors to what later became known as pro wrestling of the "golden era."  My dad and his twin brother worked in Vaudeville during the late 30's, and sure enough, terms I had heard my dad say came up again and again in Frankie's stories — flat joints, a fin, mitt reader!
  What really got me, though, was Frankie's stories about "The Battler" — a fighter who had been hit too many times and had brain damage, which resulted in him eventually getting a frontal lobotomy.  My dad's mother, an Irish immigrant known as a tinker, an Irish Gypsy (the book is filled with stories of Frankie's interactions with Gypsies), also had a frontal lobotomy in the late ‘40s after years of confinement.
  The coincidences were almost too much to imagine and I'm still processing it all.
  But back to the book.  This is truly an important piece of, not just pro wrestling lore, but a snapshot of the America of 100 years ago.  It is an incredible story of rising out of abject poverty and making a life on guts, brains, and the refusal to give in to incredible obstacles.
  Many of the stories are laugh out loud funny, while others will bring a tear to your eye.  In the final connection department, Frankie mentions becoming a country blues fan during a run in Mississippi.  I make my living these days in New Orleans … you guessed it!  Playing country blues music.
  The forthcoming volume 2 of Frankie's story will focus more heavily on his pro wrestling career in the years after volume 1 ends.  He spent many years fighting.  Not just in the street, but in "smokers," at private clubs, on AT shows and more, before he turned to full-time wrestling in the early ‘60s.
  As I mentioned earlier, I became aware of Frankie in 1966 when he was wrestling as the Inferno, and I can't wait to hear his stories of being in the various territories, especially Memphis and the Carolinas, where my love of the sport began in earnest.
  Needless to say, this book gets a 5-star recommendation for anyone with a love of wrestling history, American history, or just great stories presented in the interview format.  Thanks to Scott and Frankie for, not only crafting a fine book, but for sending me on a trip through my own family history and striking so many perfect chords.
Richard "Dick Deluxe" Egner
Former columnist/photographer for Stanley Weston's wrestling magazine's
Retired Microsoft vendor
Currently playing and singing in New Orleans

  
 

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