Blood and Fire
The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik
by Brian R. Solomon
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Pub Date 12 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 04 Feb 2022
The captivating story of how The Sheik captured the imagination of a generation, conquered the wrestling business, and lost it all in a blaze of flame and glory
He was the most vicious, bloodthirsty, reviled villain in the history of the ring. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, he drew record crowds everywhere he went and left a trail of burned and bloody opponents in his wake. He was The Sheik: the mysterious and terrifying madman from Syria whose wanton destruction and mayhem are the stuff of wrestling legend. But what those legions of fans screaming for his head never knew was that The Sheik was really Eddie Farhat.
From Lansing, Michigan, and the son of Arab immigrants, Farhat served his country proudly in World War II and was fulfilling the American dream through hard work and tireless dedication to his craft. And when he wasn’t screaming unintelligibly and attacking his enemies with sharp objects, he was busy being the owner and operator of World Wide Sports, one of the most successful wrestling companies in North America.
This is Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
This is a biography of the wrestler and promoter Ed Farhat better known to wrestling fans as The Sheik. It tells the story of his early life, his extremely long career as a wrestler and his time as a promoter of the Detroit wrestling territory. The biography also details issues out of the ring such as how his body was affected by his decades as a wrestler, how he coped with the pain his body was put through plus his relationships with others inside the wrestling business and his own somewhat eventful relations with his own family.
Being extremely interested in wrestling history I knew of The Sheik but very little about him apart from his tendency to have his matches generally descend into a bloody, brawling style so was pleased to see so much detail about his life and career. I had no idea that despite being such a popular drawing card for many years in the wrestling business that many of his fellow wrestlers and promoters seemed to look down on him. I found it so interesting reading the good and bad of his life. A lot of the quotes from others who were part of the wrestling business as well stated that they found The Sheik totally believable even though they knew him. He lived his gimmick to quote a phrase and would remain in character in public pretending to be the non English speaking heel.
The book did a great job of linking The Sheik's wrestling style to the current hardcore style that is popular in some quarters and enjoyed the quotes at the start of the chapters.
This is highly recommended, it tells you so much about Ed Farhat the man, The Sheik as the wrestler, how a successful wrestling territory can be run and also the dangers of trying to keep control for too long with advancing age and repetitive booking leading to the downfall of his business.
My thanks to both NetGalley and the Publisher ECW press for an advanced copy of this important book on professional wrestling history.
Being a historian whose chosen field is professional wrestling must seem like the worst job in the world on many days. People don't understand why anyone would care about match results from 20 or 30 or 50 years ago. Gathering information is difficult as promoters would lie about how business was either for their image, or if was great, to not pay taxes. To fans folklore and legends pass for fact, even on events that occurred on live TV. Some are willing to talk, but alot don't remember, or didn't care, it was a payday. Others live their persona, or gimmick, and went to the grave with their secrets. Brian R. Solomon in his excellent and important book Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real- Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik discusses this world and more as he writes about the enigmatic wrestler known as The Sheik.
Eddie Farhat, veteran of World War II found himself in the post-war economy struggling in his factory job in Detroit. To make some extra dollars, he returned to something he had tried during his army days, wrestling and found someone to bring him into professional wrestling. It wasn't until he took on the persona of The Sheik of Araby that his career took off, and Eddie Farhat was left far behind. The Sheik was The Sheik, to friends, family, fellow wrestlers and soon fans all over the country as began to get famous for his jabbering, his beautiful valet played by his real wife, and the violence that his matches became. Soon he owned his own promotion both here and in Canada, money was pouring in and nothing could go wrong, till it did. Shrinking business, injuries, stubbornness an overall changes in the industry forced him to try overseas work, which returned him to fame, then infamy.
An amazing, well researched book about a man that most fans don't remember, but was incredible influential on wrestling, with continue today. Mr. Solomon does an incredible job or research on a man whose prided himself on his secrecy. To The Sheik it was real to him, including as his own funeral service where The Sheik was said more than Ed Farhat ever was. Tons of stories and facts, bits on The Sheik's military history. Just exemplary work. Also Mr. Solomon goes into the history of wrestling and the the promotions and territories. If this is all new, Mr. Solomon explains everything clear and concisely, so even new readers to the sport will not be lost.
A great book for wrestling fans, both classic and new. The sense of history, the information gathered and presented, just very impressive work. Professional wrestling is such an interesting bizarre and odd world. So much about this sport has been lost, mainly because no one asked, and no one thought that anyone would care. Readers can tell that Brian Solomon cares, and I can't wait to read what he does next.
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