The long-awaited autobiography of Tony Atlas is now available at the Crowbar Press website.
ATLAS: Too Much, Too Soon
by Tony Atlas, with Scott Teal
During a time when “wannabe” wrestlers trained for years for the opportunity to become a pro wrestler, Tony Atlas was the first wrestler to be paid to learn his trade. By the late ‘70s, Tony was one of the biggest names in the sport and was wrestling in front of sellout crowds in the largest arenas in the country. While wrestling for the WWF in 1981, he even pinned Hulk Hogan in Madison Square Garden.
Readers will feel like they are living Tony’s life through his eyes as he tells about his free-spirited and self-destructive journey through life. His out-of-the-ring stories are as compelling as those that took place inside the ring. Tony tells about growing up in poverty, and recounts stories from his childhood: his dad encouraging him to fight for money as a child, being sent to a juvenile detention center, and being introduced to sex at the age of 16 by a 38-year-old woman. He describes his introduction to wrestling, his rapid rise to the top echelon of talent, the rampant and easily-available sex, money, and drugs, his fascination with “shoes,” and the terrible toll his lifestyle took on his personal life.
For the first time, Tony reveals the name of his worst enemy, and explains why he hopes that person is dead. Most revealing of all are his recollections of experiencing “racism” in wrestling … from the most unexpected source of all.
Tony tells about decisions he made which resulted in his downfall, and is brutally honest about his short-comings and the pain he suffered when he lost his job and everything he had worked for. In the telling of that story, he doesn’t criticize others, but blames himself for the downward spiral of his career. He recalls the events which led up to him being homeless and living outdoors in 22-below-zero weather, and he acknowledges the person who saved him from near-death and helped him back on the road to self-sufficiency.
Finally, Tony writes about getting another chance at fame when he returned to the spotlight in World Wrestling Entertainment as the manager of Mark Henry.
This is the story of a man who had success handed to him—only to throw it all away—and the long, painful struggle he had to endure as he clawed his way back to the top.
Excerpt from Chapter 5: The Telephone Call
Copyright © Tony White and Scott Teal
Blackjack Mulligan was the next wrestler I met. Once again, we were all in the gym at the YMCA, and as with Sandy Scott, I didn’t know anything about him. Alfonso, of course, knew exactly who he was. When Blackjack walked into the gym, word got around that a professional wrestler was in the weight room.
Mulligan began his workout with the bench press. He did five sets of 10 reps with 275 pounds, but that wasn’t too impressive because Mulligan weighed 300 pounds. A young, blonde-haired power-lifter, who couldn’t have weighed more than 190 pounds, looked at Mulligan and said, “Why don’t you put some weight on that bar? I thought you wrestlers were supposed to be strong!”
When Mulligan ignored him, the guy continued to make snide remarks. Mulligan slowly got off the bench, grabbed him by his weight-lifting belt, and pushed him against the wall. As I watched in amazement, Mulligan curled the guy up onto the wall until his feet were dangling in the air. Mulligan looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Look, all I want to do is have a light workout. That’s it. I’ve been fighting and drinking all night, so I want to do what I have to do before I go to the next town.”
Then he dropped him. Of course, the guy was embarrassed because the other guys all saw what happened. He looked over at us for support, but we were all thinking, “You’re on your own, bud. You started it … you can finish it.”
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