Crowbar Press

Pro Wrestling & the Tennessee Athletic Commission
Pro Wrestling & the Tennessee Athletic Commission

Publisher: Crowbar Press

8-1/2 x 11 Perfect Bound

Pages: 158

Words: 148,822

Photos: 158 b&w

Cover: Full color

ISBN: 978-1-940391-41-0

Item #: 67-tac

Price: $24.95



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Pro Wrestling & the Tennessee Athletic Commission

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Pro Wrestling & the Tennessee Athletic Commission
Volume 1: 1935-1971

by Tim Dills & Scott Teal

Much of the history of professional wrestling in the 20th century exists due to weathered newspaper ads, musty magazines, and copies of results in old newsletters handed down over the years by fans who thought those old days were worth remembering. Many of the people who work tirelessly to learn more about the history of the wrestling business do so with an unspoken belief that there has to be more out there to discover. They just know that important information is tucked away in a cardboard box in a dark closet and owned by someone who has no idea of what they have.

Yes, every day, pro wrestling historians find and add something new to the annals of wrestling history, and many times, that information has been sitting dormant in plain sight. That was the impetus of this book. Author Tim Dills, a long-time fan of pro wrestling, stumbled across two spools of microfilm inside the Tennessee State Library and Archives in downtown Nashville. Those two reels provide details of the Tennessee Athletic Commission meetings which took place from 1955 until 1980.

Tim dug deep into those files and examined the commission meeting minutes, and in so doing, uncovered a unique side of professional wrestling in a state boasting a long history of fascinating mat lore. Those meeting minutes, along with other existing commission documents, provide details about the formation and work of the commission and how they worked alongside the movers and shakers of the wrestling business — and boxing to a lesser degree — in Tennessee.

The law creating the Tennessee Athletic Commission passed through lawmakers’ hands on April 19, 1935, and was signed that same day by Governor Hill McAlister. The three initial members of the commission all were members of the American Legion, in keeping with the intent of the bill, which was designed to give patriotic organizations like the American Legion, Disabled Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars total control over both boxing and wrestling shows in Tennessee. While the groups enjoyed the money wrestling brought into their coffers, they found it tough to put together cards and deal with talent, so they turned over the reins to actual promoters and simply sponsored the shows.

The organizations worked closely with well-known wrestling promoters, like Nick Gulas, Roy Welch, George and John Cazana, and Les Wolfe, and their main item of business was to set license and permit fees for wrestlers, boxers, trainers, managers, referees, and promoters.

Professional Wrestling and the Tennessee Athletic Commission provides insight into the power wielded by influential state politicians, as well as the men who ran the wrestling business. It is also the story of those who served on the commission in various capacities. The paths of all those people intersected through the Tennessee Athletic Commission and their stories add a new chapter and valuable insight into the history of pro wrestling in the state of Tennessee.

This fascinating, comprehensive book of historical information is enhanced by an amazing array of more than 158 rare photos, classic newspaper ads, and little-known facts and stories.  This is a reference that wrestling historians, and even casual fans of sports entertainment, will refer to over and over again.




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