In part two of my story on the book "Black Stars of Professional Wrestling," I got a chance to revisit with the author, Julian L.D. Shabazz. We discuss the updated version of the book, which originally came out in 1999.
For those who did not read the first edition, “Black Stars” chronicles the forgotten African-American wrestlers of the past, and some well known ones, too. We touched on it a little bit in Part I of this article. Julian was good enough to chat with me about the second edition of the book, and here is our interview:
KT: First of all, tell the readers a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a wrestling fan?
JLS: I'm from South Carolina, which was part of the old Mid-Atlantic wrestling territory that was promoted by Jim Crockett. Mid-Atlantic developed into the largest and most successful NWA territory, and it later became WCW. We also had Georgia Championship Wrestling broadcast on TBS.
Back in the early 1980's, we could see pro wrestling on television several times a week, and three times on Saturday. Wrestling was a major part of my life as a kid. Growing up in the south, the WWF(E) was an acquired taste for me which took a long time to develop. I was used to the southern style of wrestling and thought that WWE was kind of cartoonish and even more over the top. But, I eventually came to understand and appreciate their brand of wrestling.
KT: Tell the readers what inspired you to do the first and second versions of this book?
JLS: The business continued to evolve with new stars emerging. The book was originally published in 1999, and after 10 years it was time for an updated version.
KT: Give us just a couple of things (preview) in the second edition that was not in the first?
JLS: The second edition included the addition of most of the new stars that came onto the scene since 2000. Also, in the first edition I asked readers to send me info on wrestlers that may have been omitted. I received so many pieces of mail from readers and included much of that information in the new edition. I also revised and expanded on the biographical information about the wrestlers and included as many photos as I could without creating a drastic price increase.
KT: In your research for the second edition, did you find out anything you didn't know about that you wished you had put in the first book?
JLS: Sure, and that was why I asked the readers to send submissions. Pro wrestling is so popular around the world, that it is always changing. The society we live in today has changed, and thus so has the publishing world. Believe it or not, I used to work in libraries, so I was very skilled in researching information. At that time, I had to rely on finding information and photos from old magazines, and getting in touch with other wrestling historians and collectors. That required a lot of leg work.
Back in 1999, we had the internet, Ebay and Amazon.com, but it wasn't like it is today. Twelve years ago, there was no MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Magazines and newspapers still dominated the market at that time. Cell phones were popular, but not to today's level. So with the technological advances, the research process has changed.
KT: Have you come against a lot of opposition from people or groups when writing either version?
JLS: Good question. Originally there was some flack, but very little compared to the level of appreciation. Unfortunately, some people see a book specifically about black people and immediately jump to the conclusion that it must be something negative about whites.
As you know, that's the furthest thing from the truth. The book is only a celebration and appreciation for the black athletes that have participated in professional wrestling. All I have done is give props to black wrestlers. Some people just can't talk about a black subject matter without getting into race issues.
Pro wrestling unfortunately lends itself to that, given the amount of stereotyping of characters that's taken place for so long. Truth be told though, many of the book buyers have been white wrestling fans. So, most people get it.
KT: For those that read the first book, what would you like for people to get out of the second book?
JLS: I only want to help readers learn more about and appreciate the people behind the characters that they see on television. The production quality of the second book is better also, as technology in publishing has advanced.
KT: For those who did NOT read the first book, what will they get out of this version?
JLS: It's like a good movie sequel or television show. Readers don't have to have read the first edition to pick this edition up and get the same good feeling as everyone else!
KT: Given your schedule, do you get to follow a lot of wrestling?
JLS: I do. I tape or DVR lots of shows, and watch them later.
KT: Where can people find you (media appearances, website, etc.)?
JLS: I have my official website: www.JulianLDShabazz.com and I'm also on Facebook. I still travel a lot as a professional speaker and author, and I make media appearances as well. I want to thank you for all you do. I've had the pleasure of knowing you and your work since the late 1990s so keep doing it BIG!
KT: Julian, I have to thank you for everything that you do, as well. Much luck and prosperity with the book.