September 16, 2011
Billy Robinson memoir out in Spring 2012
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling

Billy Robinson in May 2011 at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend. Photo by Larry Minervini

Coming in the spring of 2012 is the life story of Billy Robinson, Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling, and it promises to push and pull readers in many different directions.

Not one to brag about something where he can't break bones, Robinson matter-of-factly said, "It's about my early days in wrestling."

The British wrestling legend and member of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (Class of 2011) is teaming with author Jake Shannon on the book.

"It is the story of Billy's life in wrestling, from growing up in a fighting family, to traveling the world wrestling, and to his exploits in both pro-wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts," Shannon told SLAM! Wrestling. "The book is done and being edited now."

Doing the editing at ECW Press is Michael Holmes, who also shepherded Shannon's Say Uncle! Catch-As-Catch-Can and the Roots of Mixed Martial Arts, Pro Wrestling, and Modern Grappling to press.

"I wanted to publish it because I was fascinated by Billy's stories, and because he bridges the gap between the histories of pro wrestling and MMA," said Holmes.


Robinson said that the idea for the book came from Shannon, who has been booking the star of the 1974 film The Wrestler in seminars around the world.

"In the seminars, I keep on getting questions, and Jake taped the questions and answers and stuff, and decided to put it together," said Robinson.

Holmes shared the sales blurb for the book as well:

Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling is the story of one of the most legendary men in all of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts, Billy Robinson. In this fascinating autobiography, Robinson recounts his upbringing amid a family of champion fighters (wrestlers and boxers), his worldwide travels as a wrestler, his time as a professional wrestling television star, and his career as a coach of some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts.

This memoir fills a crucial gap in the history of the sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling while simultaneously sharing the intriguing details of Billy’s life, in his own inimitable voice. Starting with his working class childhood in post-WWII England through his career as a top-card professional wrestler and ending with his current career as a highly sought after mixed martial arts coach, this autobiography leaves the reader with the feeling of having shared a few intimate afternoons sipping tea while listening to a legend.

In Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling, Robinson sets the record straight as to:

  • the results of his infamous street fight with the grandfather of WWE superstar and movie star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
  • how his family was pivotal in introducing ‘God of Wrestling’ Karl Gotch to Billy Riley’s gym in Wigan, England and to the sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling.
  • the accomplishments of some of the greatest competitive grapplers the world has ever seen and that you’ve likely never heard of before.
  • the evolution of mixed martial arts in Japan as a result of the influence of Wigan catch wrestlers hired as trainers for Japanese professional wrestling promotions.
  • his coaching experience with MMA legends like Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett.
  • his exotic travels to Spain, India, Lebanon, Japan, and much, much more.
    Given the explosive growth of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts in the last few decades, Physical Chess is required reading for the true fan of either sport (or both). Both eye opening and inspiring, Robinson’s story spans wrestling before it’s first appearances on television to today’s world of social media and satellite communications. This book demands a unique place on the bookshelves of both pro-wrestling and mixed martial arts fans alike.

    Greg Oliver has been writing about pro wrestling since 1985, and is the author of five books: SLAM! Wrestling: Shocking Stories from the Squared Circle; Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror That Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport (with Steven Johnson, Heath McCoy and Irv Muchnick); The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels (with Steven Johnson); The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams (also with Johnson) and The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians. Order them all from the SLAM! Wrestling Store. He can be emailed at goliver845@gmail.com.


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