justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

People who work harder than me

I was too busy last week and did not get around to posting this, but here is a Q&A with Jeff Leen, for Gelf Magazine that I wrote about his new book, "The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds, and the Making of an American Legend."

Women's wrestling is not quite my cup of tea, but the book was well written and I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around the amount of research Leen did in writing the book. The book is about Mildred Burke, who as Leen describes is the "Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth of women's wrestling." She also aligned herself with her husband/manager Billy Wolfe, who beat the shit out of her, cheated on her with tens of women and in the end stole all her money. It's a pretty entertaining story if you're into that sort of thing.

Leen, a managing editor at The Washington Post, spent five years researching Burke, who reigned as the women's wrestling professional champion from the 1930s through the 1950s. Almost every hour that Leen was not working for the Post, he was dedicating to the book. He even spent his vacation driving with his wife through the route that Burke's wrestling circuit followed.

His notes on sources for the book stretch 57 pages. As a lazy blogger, this is all incredibly mind-blowing to me. I hope one day to have half the work ethic Leen has.

Here's my article with an excerpt as usual:

Jeff Leen describes the subject of his book The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds, and the Making of an American Legend as the "Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth of women's wrestling." Yet few self-described sports fanatics could tell you whoMildred Burke is. Through extensive research into the history of women's wrestling, Leen aims to rectify that oversight, shedding light on a woman who rose from a small, Depression-stricken Midwestern town to become one of the most important wrestlers of all time—only to sink into obscurity upon her death.

Over a five-year span, Leen, a managing editor at the Washington Post, spent almost every spare minute of his time examining any form of literature that related to Burke and retracing the path of her career. The resulting biography recounts not only Burke's tale, but life during the golden age of American wrestling. It also describes the incredible amounts of physical and psychological drama that Burke brought upon herself to get the top.

Gelf spoke with Leen by phone to learn what it's like researching an obscure sports figure who passed away decades ago, and how his own Midwestern roots and 30 years as an investigative reporter helped him write The Queen of the Ring.

Continue reading...


Anonymous said...

Seriously, enough with the Jeff Leen label man, talk about overkill!