The Wrestling, by Simon Garfield

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The Independent Culture

The Duke of Kent, Paul McCartney and pop artist Peter Blake were big fans, and the television audiences tuning in at 4pm on Saturday were so large (over 10 million) that shopkeepers campaigned for a change in the transmission time, claiming trade was suffering. Then in 1988 ITV pulled the plug after 33 years, and the heyday of British wrestling was over. In a labour of love that began as an article for The Independent on Sunday, Simon Garfield tracked down and interviewed many of the larger than life in every sense heroes of the ring, and the result is an affectionate account packed with drama, humour, tragedy and intrigue. Choreographed much of the action may have been, but it was still wincingly tough, as the testimony of grapplers such as Jackie Pallo, Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy, all three no longer with us, indicates. "It's something very British we've lost," says Blake. "It had its day, and it was wonderful." As is Garfield's tribute; a celebration rather than an epitaph.

Published by Faber in paperback, 9.99