Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling's Original Sheik by Brian R Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling's Original Sheik is the biography of Ed Farhat, aka The Sheik.
I was planning on getting this anyway since The Sheik is a legendary figure in the wrestling business but ECW Press hit me up for an ARC.
The book chronicles The Sheik's life, from his birth through his fifty year career and finally to his death and legacy. Most of my exposure to The Sheik was in my dad's collection of 1970s wrestling magazines and stories in other wrestlers' books so most of it was new to me.
Without going into too much detail, The Sheik's story is like a lot of other wrestlers' from his era. Humble beginnings, eventual stardom, owning a territory, and having it all come crashing down. Still, the book was loaded with interesting information. A lot of time is spent on the inner workings of the Detroit territory and the Sheik's forays into other territories, both in his prime and much, much later.
I found the evolution of the Sheik's character to be interesting, as well as his devotion to kayfabe, being in character most of the time. It's awesome that his grandkids called him Grandpa Sheik.
The later chapters of the book are sad and frustrating. The Sheik ran his Detroit territory into the ground by featuring himself on top for decades and holding down anyone who might threaten his spot. Once the territory started hemorrhaging money, The Sheik and his long suffering wife lost everything and the Sheik had to wrestle decades longer than he should have just to keep the lights on, even doing death matches in Japan when he was pushing 70. The Sheik training Sabu and Rob Van Dam was one of the few bright spots in the later chapters of the book, the Sheik giving something back to the wrestling business while he still could.
Blood and Fire is a great look behind the curtain of the Detroit Territory and the life of The Sheik. Five out of five foreign objects.
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