There are plenty of broad topics to discuss from these few chapters of Drawing Heat, but I really enjoy focusing on the individuals. The disparity between images defined in the ring and the men who actually exist outside of it fascinates me. I, like Jim Freedman, realize that it is “naïve to wonder at the gap… between the person and the personae,” yet I still find myself caught up in my disbelief.
I love the image that Freedman is painting of Dave “the Wildman” McKigney. From crazy, to a softie, to someone you don’t want to make angry… Compared to Tunney, who remained a brick wall both inside and outside the ring towards Freedman, Dave is an open book. He doesn’t really fit into the “wrestling” image; he’s big and loud, with “booming presence,” sure, but underneath he is gentle, loving, and maybe even vulnerable. His heart shines through when you know where to look. You can see it in the tender way he loved and cared for his bears— animals that others might treat as dumb and vicious beasts. Even after his girlfriend was mauled and killed tragically by one of his own bears, Dave still loved them and wanted the best for them.
Apart from the Wildman, Freedman also describes a conversation with Chris Tolos, “The Golden Greek” (pg. 82). In the ring, Tolos is the kind of guy that abuses both his opponent and the audience. Jim Freedman describes the real-life Chris as a “self-effacing and self-sacrificing” family-centered man: a direct contradiction to his stage persona.
I look forward to discussing and reading more about the Wildman and others that Jim Freedman meets and writes about in his book.