The Kings of Wrestling

Anecdotes and Stories of Wrestling from the Distant Past to Our Times

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About the Book

Wrestling dates back to ancient times, but it was not until Edmond Desbonnet (1867-1953) produced his groundbreaking work The Kings of Wrestling in 1910 that its history was set down in book-length form. His work consists of nearly 150 biographies and accompanying photos of the men who pioneered professional wrestling, particularly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He explains how Greco-Roman wrestling emerged in France around 1845 and then evolved into a big business during its golden age of 1890 to 1910. The sport drew men from all over Europe as well as Africans, Turks, East Indians, Russians, Americans, and others. Wrestling became the first truly international sport the world had ever known.
Desbonnet wrote his history in French, and it is translated here for the first time. This richly illustrated edition has an introduction and extensive annotations, along with many contemporary newspaper articles, book excerpts and magazine pieces from French, Italian and German sources.

About the Author(s)

David L. Chapman, a Seattle-based independent scholar, has written many books and articles on physique photography, sport history, gender studies, film and popular culture. He worked on the translation of Edmond Desbonnet’s massive French history for more than three decades.

Bibliographic Details

Edmond Desbonnet
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 338
Bibliographic Info: 160 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9407-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5246-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1
Introduction to The Kings of Wrestling 5
The Kings of Wrestling
by Edmond Desbonnet
Foreword: Wrestling Is the Primordial Sport 23
The Kings of Ancient Wrestling 25
The Kings of Wrestling: The Early Years 28
The Kings of Wrestling: Contemporary Wrestlers 115
Appendix and Metric Conversions 183
Appendix 1: Timothée Trimm, “Truly Strong Men” 186
Appendix 2: Jules Vallès, Excerpts from The Street 191
Appendix 3: X, “Among Men” 197
Appendix 4: Edmond Renoir, “Wrestling and Wrestlers” 200
Appendix 5: Léon Ville, Excerpts from Wrestling and Wrestlers 212
Appendix 6: Bertrand Fauvet, “Fairground Performers” 218
Appendix 7: Rémy ­Saint-Maurice, “Wrestling and Wrestlers” 225
Appendix 8: Frantz Reichel, “Wrestling: A Music Hall Sport” 233
Appendix 9: Paul Pons, Excerpts from Wrestling 237
Appendix 10: Alberto Cougnet, Excerpts from ­Greco-Roman Wrestling on the Mat 271
Appendix 11: Adolf von Guretzki, Excerpts from Modern Wrestling 283
Chapter Notes 293
Bibliography 325
Index 327