Fritz Von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw
by Ron G. Mullinax
LitFire Publishing

"With the addition of this new wrestling hold, my transformation would be complete. I had become Fritz Von Erich, The Master of the Iron Claw."

Jack Adkisson, born in Texas in 1929, was an unusually strong, athletic teenager. Married young and in need of a career, Adkisson found his niche in professional wrestling, a spectator sport with a fanatical following in local venues and later on TV. Adkisson styled himself as "Fritz Von Erich," exploiting Nazi stereotypes. He incited crowds by teaming with "brother Waldo" and using his brutal signature hold, the infamous "Iron Claw." When his first son died in a tragic accident, wrestling became his obsession, its pains paradoxically helping to assuage inner grief. After garnering fame in the international wrestling limelight, Adkisson developed an award-winning family wrestling consortium in the Dallas area, utilizing the varied talents of his five remaining sons. But then wrestler son David died, three other sons committed suicide, his marriage dissolved, and rumors of a family "curse" arose.

Lifetime wrestling fan Mullinax quickly bonded with Adkisson, his childhood hero, through friendship with his last surviving son. When the wrestling legend was dying of incurable cancer, he asked Mullinax to write his story. Mullinax carefully collected personal recollections and memorabilia that form the basis of this book. He utilizes his skills as a debut writer to convey the gritty insider tales of a man who could be rational and religious in private but who willingly fought others in public, hurting and being hurt, sometimes drastically. Mullinax deftly reveals, though, that the pain incurred in Adkisson’s chosen profession was minor compared to the tragedy of five sons lost. Mullinax makes the case that had the Von Erich family not suffered such profound losses, the dynasty would be more generally celebrated for its achievements. His portrait is fair and thorough, and Von Erich fans, both old and new, will appreciate learning this fascinating story from the inside.

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