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From the bestselling author of The Wax Pack, comes another eye‑opening road trip adventure into a pocket of massively popular pop culture—professional wrestling—starring the Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana, and many more larger‑than‑life characters of the WWF of the 1980s.
In 2005, Brad Balukjian left his position as a magazine fact-checker to pursue a dream job: partner with his childhood hero, The Iron Sheik (whose real name was Khosrow Vaziri), to write his biography. Things quickly went south, culminating in the Sheik threatening Balukjian’s life. Now seventeen years later, Balukjian returns to the road in search of not only a reunion with the Sheik, but something much bigger: truth in a world built on illusion.
Balukjian seeks out six of the Sheik’s contemporaries, fellow witnesses to the World Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) explosion in the mid-‘80s, to unearth their true identities. As Balukjian drives 12,525 miles around the country, we revisit the heady days when these avatars of strength, villainy, and heroism first found fame and see where their journeys took them. From working out with Tony Atlas (Tony White) to visiting Hulk Hogan’s (Terry Bollea) karaoke bar, we see where these men are now and how they have navigated the cliffs of fame.
The Six Pack combines the spirit of a fan with the rigor of an investigative reporter, tracking down former WWF employees, childhood friends, and mutually curious archivists. Wrestling is perceived as a subculture without a cultural home, somewhere between sport and theater—often dismissed as silly and low‑brow. But what makes this book so compelling is the humanity beneath each wrestler. The Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, and the rest of the cast were not characters in a comic book movie. They were real people, with families and feelings and bodies that could break. Most of them did, in fact, break; some have been repaired, but none of them will ever be the same.
“With a PhD in entomology, a beat-up Ford Fusion, and a prior career as a fact-checker, Brad Balukjian is both the least likely and the absolute best person to write this book. His humility, intelligence, and devotion to fact serve a work that is revelatory, emotionally on point, and addictively readable. It's all here—the lawsuits and exploitation, the clashing egos, the brain damage and the debauchery. But this is less an exposé than a love letter—to the strutting monsters of Balukjian's youth and to the men they ultimately became: surprisingly reflective, sometimes broken, always fascinating. What an achievement this book is.”Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Fuzz
“Is pro wrestling real? Of course it is! It’s real enough to make a man take to the road in search of his boyhood heroes, undertake a sweet journey of self-discovery, and produce this gem of a book filled with wit, warmth, and wisdom.”Jonathan Eig, author of King: A Life, Ali: A Life, and Luckiest Man
“The Six Pack isn’t mere rediscover-my-youth journey. It’s a joyful odyssey into the blissful, wacky, weird, outrageous world of 1980s wrestling. So step up to the top rope and leap into Balukjian’s masterful time machine.”Jeff Pearlman, author of The Last Folk Hero and Three-Ring Circus
- On Sale
- Apr 2, 2024
- Hachette Audio