CHAMPION OF THE WORLD: The Great American Wrestling novel, and more!

Posted: September 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

Those who know me know my penchant for wrestling. There’s something I find absolutely fascinating about the manner in which combat is used as a pretext to tell a story of contrasting personalities clashing inside the squared circle. So when I read the plot description for CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, by journalist Chad Dundas, I was instantly hooked. And boooy, did this book ever deliver.
Set in the infancy days of professional wrestling as we know it today, this historical novel tells the gripping story of former lightweight champion Pepper Van Dean, now a circus performer known for his death-defying Hangman’s Drop, and his wife, Moira, who makes a living out of tricking people at card games. The former champ’s wrestling glory days come back to haunt him, when he receives an offer to train African-American heavyweight wrestler Garfield Taft for a shot at being the eponymous Champion of the World. Which, of course, given the fact that the story takes place in the ’20’s, is controversial, to say the least. And let me tell you, this book is replete with controversy. From gangsters to blatant racism and some homosexuality, there’s little in this book that is for the faint of heart. However, those who stick with it to the end will find a story that’s super-confidently written for a debut novel(I had a hard time believing this to be the case on a couple of occasions). From the opening, the reader is engrossed into this story, and the characters are so complex and well-drawn that you’ll care about all of them, from down-on-his luck yet never-say-die Pepper, to the ever-resourceful Moira and the superlatively confident Taft. A robust, authentic, gritty, heartfelt debut, written in pull-no-punches prose, CHAMPION OF THE WORLD is sure to entertain wrestling fans, historical fiction buffs and those who are simply looking for a great read. This, in my book, is the great American wrestling novel, and I’m looking forward to the further efforts of Chad Dundas! Ten outta five for a solid debut! The views herein are my own, though Mr. Dundas was gracious enough to provide me with a copy of his work.

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