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Wrestling Historian Mike Rickard

Reviews The Last of a Great Breed: True Stories From A Career in Pro Wrestling

The Last of a Great Breed

The Three Fs of Dory Funk Jr.—Food, Fighting, and Family

Dory Funk Jr.’s 2023 memoir The Last of a Great Breed: True Stories From A Career in Pro Wrestling is a bit like Funk himself—an overlooked treasure. The book includes various anecdotes from Dory Funk Jr.’s life, all the way from his youth watching his famous father, Dory Funk, wrestle and promote, to his current role as wrestling’s elder statesman.

It’s difficult to understand why Dory Funk Jr. is one of wrestling’s most overlooked figures. Not only is he a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion (and he held the belt when it was considered professional wrestling’s top prize, and it required the approval of the majority of NWA promoters to get the nod), he had a highly successful career around the world, both in singles and tag team wrestling. In addition, Dory has passed his wealth of knowledge on to generations of wrestlers.

On its surface, the book may seem like a slapdash collection of stories. Dory doesn’t start from his early years and continues through his current activities. Instead, he shares different stories from different points in his life. However, it’s not a stream-of-consciousness exercise but a collection of stories united by three essential themes to Funk—food, fighting, and family.

Actually, there is another “f,” but since this is a family column, I’ll let you use your imagination (here’s a clue: one of the stories involves wrestler Klondike Bill, and if you’ve ever listened to Tony Schiavone’s What Happened When, that’s the only clue you’ll need). Dory’s book has some salacious road stories. One in particular will likely give you a new insight into Harley Race).

Dory shares his love of food, fighting (wrestling and real-life fighting), and the deep family bond he shared with his blood relatives (including several stories involving Terry Funk that prove he was crazy long before he was middle-aged). He also shares stories about his wrestling family that stress the bond grapplers shared.

The Last of a Great Breed: True Stories From A Career in Pro Wrestling is also a must-read for students of wrestling history. Dory shares stories from his father’s days promoting his NWA territory in Amarillo (a territory later taken over by Terry and Dory Jr.) and the many legends who passed through. He also shares stories of the politics involved in wrestling, including the infighting surrounding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Dory also has some insight into the very different personalities who made up the National Wrestling Alliance’s distinct territories.

There are many fascinating stories. Some are funny. Other stories are heartbreaking, including the one where Dory recalls the death of his dad at a relatively young age. Funk’s book is a well-crafted tapestry of the different elements of a pro wrestler’s life and any professional entertainer and athlete. Every tale will have you ready to turn the page and hope for a sequel. The book is 329 pages long and includes a decent selection of photos.

Dory Funk Jr.’s memoir is more than a book about what made this legendary wrestler tick, but a reflection on the many wrestlers and other individuals he encountered on his life’s journey (which thankfully, is still going strong). It’s a book you’ll be happy you took the time to read, much like you’ll gain an appreciation for his in-ring work if you look at his career on YouTube.

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