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Nothing Barred

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Mayflower, London, 1968
price: 6/- (30p); 320 pages
(first published by Martin Secker and Warburg, 1965)

dedication: To Bert Assirati, the greatest wrestling champion of our time

The blurb on the back:

Play the game Ė our way!
From his experience as a champion boxer Johnny Morgan wrote
The Square Jungle. Now he has packed, his experience as a pro wrestler (European middleweight champion) into an equally engrossing, authentic, and startling novel on the wrestling game. Johnny is a champion wrestler - whose own standards are high.-But he finds them compromised by the greed of the promoters, by the public lust for blood and showmanship, by his own urge for women and fame. And life can be dangerous for those who don't play The Game... inside ó and outside of ó the ropes...
In this dynamic novel Johnny Morgan has ripped the glamour image from TV's favourite sport.
íI have no hesitation whatever in recommending this book most highly.í - Michael Gabbert of
The People

opening lines:
The one-eyed man stood on the corner. He was short, but yet a tremendous figure under the lamplight.

This is disappointing. Wrestling is a perfectly fine theme for a novel, particularly an exploitation novel, but we waste far too much time here in other worlds entirely, including a lengthy digression on the trade directory listing scam, and accounts of fixing the odds on greyhound racing. Maybe the intention was to point out that, while wrestling may be corrupt, itís no more so than other areas of human life. Or maybe itís just that Johnny Morgan wasnít up to much on the writing front.

Anyway the stuff about the wrestling itself is what youíre after, and again I fear youíre not going to come away satisfied. It does emphasize that Ė even if the results are pre-fixed Ė that doesnít mean the fighters arenít superb athletes taking enormous risks with their bodies. But surely thatís hardly startling.

I am sorry. I wanted this to be good, Ďcos Iím a big fan of old school wrestling, but it simply ainít.

Bert Assirati, to whom this book is dedicated, on the left;
Johnny Morgan is at the receiving end of his attentions.

My thanks go to Mike Hallinan, the offical biographer of Bert Assirati, who confirmed for me that that is Johnny Morgan in the photo, and tells me it was taken at the Seymour Hall, London, one of the three bouts that the two men fought. Assirati, in case the name isn't immediately familiar, was one of the greatest wrestlers of the 20th century, while Morgan, it appears, was a bit of an opportunist who was never much cop at the grapple game. Mr Hallinan adds the sad detail that Morgan committed suicide when he learnt that he had cancer. I am grateful for the information and would like to direct you to this site:

Bert Assirati homepage


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The Wrestling