Ric Flair’s 2004 book, To Be The Man is a fascinating glimpse into the old days of professional wrestling. Even if you are not a professional wrestling fan it is an enjoyable nostalgic read.
Of course, professional wrestling is not a real athletic contest, but the people in it are superb athletes. Professional wrestling is basically a traveling circus. Like circuses, many of the performers are part of families that have been in the business for generations.
It is also a very nomadic life, especially for the lower level wrestlers. They perform in one city, then right after the show get in cars to drive to the next city to perform the following night. Unless you are one of the stars you probably have to do double duty by helping set up the ring and chairs in the arena.
But how do you get to be a professional wrestling champ in something that is not a real sport? Who actually decides the winners and losers? Ric Flair’s book shows how it is the fans that ultimately decide who will become great. The key to becoming a professional wrestling champion is to get the fans excited about you. You want the fans to love you or hate you, as long as they don’t ignore you.
Ric Flair made himself a wrestling star by inventing innovative ways to promote himself and get the fans and press to notice him. He used his own money to get publicity and start acting like a star long before the fans had ever heard of him. It is sort of what the Kardashians do today. He made himself famous by simply acting like he already was famous.
Ric Flair would get to a city the day before a wrestling match and go to a modeling agency. He would hire 3 or 4 beautiful models for the night of the match. When it was his turn to wrestle, he would walk down the ramp to the ring, with these beautiful women hanging on his arms and pretending to be his girlfriends. He also spent a fortune on his wrestling costumes, with robes and boots costing thousands of dollars. The fans got a real show just seeing Ric Flair walk into the ring, before the match even started. The fans loved his antics and soon demanded to see more of “The Nature Boy”.
However, all of the promotion is just what got Ric Flair noticed. It was his athletic ability that made him great. The stamina and strength to be a professional wrestler is incredible. Whenever they are not in a match, wrestlers are working out. Ric Flair’s warm up routine before even starting his regular exercises was to do 300 sit-ups, 300 pushups and 300 squat thrusts.
If you can find a copy of To Be The Man, we recommend it as a fun summer read.