Watermark Publishing Blog

  • Two For Tuesday Deal for June 24, 2014!

    TWOFORTUESDAYSummer is a great time to savor the bounty of the ‘aina, and with summer break in full swing, it’s also a great time to get your kids in the kitchen to learn more about what goes into the food on their plates and how to make it themselves.

    So this month’s Two For Tuesday deal features a pair of cookbooks that’ll help you—and your keiki—get into the cooking mood and make the most of fresh, local produce.

    Two For Tuesday Deal: $15 for The Hawai‘i Farmers Market Cookbook—Vol. 2 and A Sweet Dash of Aloha. Normally $15.95 each, you’ll save over 50% on this cookbook deal!

    Bonus Offer: Make a promise to yourself to do more cooking this summer! For just $10 more, choose between A Splash of Aloha, seafood recipes from the same team that put together A Dash of Aloha, or The Hawai‘i Book of Rice, featuring 101 recipes for Hawai‘i’s favorite starch.

    GET THE DEAL

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  • Stories from the Home Front in WWII Hawaii

    Seventy years ago today, on June 15, 1944, the 100th Battalion (the “One Puka Puka”), made up of soldiers from Hawai‘i, was assigned to the famed 442nd "Go For Broke" Regimental Combat Team. The stories of their experiences are widely documented.

    Their friends and family left at home, back in Hawai‘i, had their own harrowing war experiences, too. Gathered for the first time in Japanese Eyes, American Heart - Vol. 2: Voices from the Home Front in World War II Hawaii are dozens of deeply personal stories that reveal the hardship, sorrow and anguish—as well as the pride, compassion and even laughter—experienced by Japanese Americans living in Hawaii following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

    JEAH2promo_web

    This week, Japanese Eyes, American Heart - Vol. 2 will be available for Amazon Kindle at a special price of just $1.99. (Regular e-book price: $9.99; regular hardcover price: $24.95) This offer expires June 21. Click the Kindle icon below to purchase.

  • Two For Tuesday Deals

    TWOFORTUESDAY

    This month, we are happy to announce the launch of a new promotion: On the last Tuesday of each month, we’ll offer a special “Two For Tuesday” deal on a pair of books—one low price for two great books. Get one of each title, or buy two copies of a single title—one for yourself and one to share with a friend.

    Enjoy discounts of 50% off or more, but these special prices will only be offered for a limited time: One week beginning on Tuesday, ending the following Monday.

    Here’s our first Two For Tuesday Deal: $30 for Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Wrestling and Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played. These two books, a perfect gift for Dad this Father’s Day, have a combined retail price of $59.90—you’ll save 50% on the set!

    Both books are image-intensive chronicles of Hawai‘i’s sporting heyday. Gentleman Ed Presents… shares the behind-the-scenes stories from Gentleman Ed himself, from his beginnings as a wrestler to running an Island wrestling empire. Honolulu Stadium presents a carefully curated collection of photographs, memorabilia and recollections from the landmark’s historic years hosting everything from high school football, Hawaii Islanders baseball, the Hula bowl, stock car racing, boxing matches, sports heroes and legendary entertainers.

    And this month, we’ve got a bonus book offer for you: Add The Hawaii Sports Trivia Challenge to your order for just $5.00!

    Two For Tuesday - 5.27.14

  • FROM THE ARCHIVES: "The Scars Are Real"

    The following is an excerpt from the 2012 release, Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Big Time Wrestling! by Edmund C. Francis with Larry Fleece. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Gentleman Ed Francis’ 50th State Big Time Wrestling, a wild and wacky extravaganza, took Hawai‘i by storm and dominated local sports entertainment. In Gentleman Ed Francis Presents..., Gentleman Ed himself reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of building his Aloha State wrestling empire and the ups-and-downs of managing an enterprise built on big men boasting larger-than-life personalities. With his wrestler-announcer-referee-promoter partner Lord Tally Ho Blears at his side, Francis built a huge fan following for his wrestlers— Hard-Boiled Haggerty, Tosh Togo, Handsome Johnny Barend, Andre the Giant, Freddie Blassie, Nick Bockwinkel, Neff Maiava, The Missing Link, Mad Dog Mayne and scores of others—all captured here in over 100 images chronicling two decades of Island wrestling mania.

    In this excerpt from Chapter 10, "The Scars Are Real," Gentleman Ed addresses that age-old question: "Is wrestling for real?"

    Ask any of our great wrestlers who took the ring in Hawaii.

    The number one line of questioning we would always get, in Hawaii and around the country, even from our most loyal and avid fans was: Isn’t it all fake? Isn’t it just a big, phony show?

    My answer involves looking at some of the things my wrestling colleagues and I went through in the ring on a daily basis. After looking at the real life of a working professional wrestler, you tell me whether you think it’s all a big put-on.

    Let’s start with a typical day for a pro wrest-ler. On most days when I was wrestling around the country, my evening’s match might have been 200 to 300 miles away from my home base. I’d pack my bag and hit the road, trying to time it so that I’d arrive at the arena a couple of hours before the show.

    CollectorCards_EdAs a “star” when I was the World Junior Heavyweight Champ, I had some big responsibilities. Promoters and wrestlers alike depended on me to draw a large crowd, so that we could all have a good payday. I, of course, needed to leave the arena with the least amount of damage to my reputation and to my body. You get hurt, you’re done.

    The promoter had his own agenda. Even if I was destined as the “champ” to win the match, the promoter might want to make sure that his guy wouldn’t be made to look foolish in the process. After all, his guy is the “baby face” and the local big shot in that territory. You have to leave him with his dignity.

    In planning our “high spots” for a match with my opponent—often a complete stranger—I’d try to lay down a few very simple ground rules. The primary one: no pile drivers. You can’t trust a guy with your spinal cord, especially when you never know if his ego could suddenly cause him to go rogue on the champ.

    With the game plan set and the prelims over, it’s time to enter the ring. Our ring was like concrete with a thin matte cover. The rings we wrestled in had no springs like they do now to absorb the shock of a body slam, and the matte cover was a disgusting patchwork of filth. There was resin, sweat and blood that saturated the cover, left over from the previous week’s boxing matches, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

    As a result, many wrestlers contracted an eye disease called trachoma, and some would even lose their eyesight from it. Years on the horribly unsanitary mats for Strangler Ed White and Cowboy Luttrell left them both legally blind. Luttrell ultimately ran the promotion in Florida and, whenever I visited his office, he and Ed White would be playing cards. White had to hold the cards an inch from his nose to be able to see them.

    Next on the agenda for the night: time to give the fans some excitement. The title of “champ” didn’t mean I was the good guy. On the contrary, most of the time I was the heel—the villain.

    I enter the ring, strut around and maybe give a defiant finger to the crowd. My posturing triggers 5,000, maybe even 10,000 angry fans to start screaming: “Kill the bastard!” “Tear his head off!“ “Put a hurt on him!” And, of course, many other things not remotely fit for print.

    The bell rings and the match is underway. It’s a one-fall, 60-minute time limit.

    For maybe the first 25 or 30 minutes, my opponent is getting the best of me. The fans are happy, screaming their approval. But then the tide turns. I get a headlock on my opponent and start punching him in the head. He might secretly produce a razor blade that he’s had hidden in his wrist band, or even in his mouth, and he privately uses it on his forehead. Now blood is running down his face. The fans are going wild.

    I turn away from the referee, reach into my trunks and pull out my brass knuckles. I hit my bloodied opponent again, then put the brass knuckles back inside my trunks. The fans see what I’ve done and their yelling builds to a crescendo of boos.

    As the match draws to a conclusion, the promoter has assembled the evening’s other wrestlers outside the locker room. They know the drill, all too well. They have to be ready to run down to protect me when the match is over.

    Meanwhile, in the ring, for the final punctuation point to the match, I pick up my opponent, slam him to the mat and cover him. One, two, three! I jump up and raise my hand in victory.

    The fans, who just spent the past hour going hoarse rooting for the other guy, all go crazy with anger. On more nights than I can count, some fans would jump up on the ring apron, trying to get at me. I would end up having to punch some of them off the apron just to protect myself.

    That’s when the other wrestlers run to ringside to help protect me. Together we fight our way back to the locker room, shoving, pushing, swinging and punching through the sea of angry fans who have closed around us.

    Blood sport: Injuries—sometimes serious—are a way of life for professional wrestlers. Photos courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved. Blood sport: Injuries—sometimes serious—are a way of life for professional wrestlers. Photos courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved.

    At a match in Toronto, I was running to get to the relative safety of the locker room, but the crowd was right on top of me. I knew they’d be able to trap me before I’d made it to safety, so I had to do something drastic. I whipped around and hit the first face in the crowd, the one closest to me.

    The fan dropped like a sack of rice.

    When he went down, it distracted the crowd just long enough for me to slip into the locker room. But the fans weren’t going to give up and go away that easily. They started pounding on the locker room door, trying to break it down to get at me.

    Now I was mad.

    I swung open the door and pulled one of the fans inside. We swung at each other, and I hit him so hard I broke his jaw. How do I know? The next week, the same guy was right back at the matches … with his jaw wired shut.

    It was all in a night’s work for a working wrestler.

    I had an endless succession of back injuries and bulging discs, attended to by chiropractors in every city in the U.S. Those back problems ultimately resulted in two major surgeries.

    Many nights when I was wrestling I’d lie on a wood bench in the locker room to try to get a little relief from the searing pain in my back. Then I’d hear them call my name for the main event that night. I’d take a deep breath and struggle to pull myself off the bench and into a standing position. I’d gingerly pull on my jacket, or whatever I was wearing that night into the ring, and I’d slowly head out the locker room door into the arena.

    But every night that I crossed the threshold of that door and into the arena, something strange would happen. The people were all on their feet, screaming for the match to begin, screaming my name. I could see all their faces.

    It was at that moment, when my face met the fans, that I straightened up, walked into the ring and the pain disappeared. I went the distance in the match, gave the fans their money’s worth, then went back to the locker room and into the shower, and the pain came flooding back, coursing through my spine.

    Call it “fan adrenalin,” call it mind tricks, call it a crazy way to make a living—but, somehow, some way, the sheer will to perform for me and all the wrestlers led us to conquer the pain at least temporarily, long enough for us to survive our minutes in the ring.

    Believe it or not, with all the pain I experienced, I’m one of the lucky ones. The physical toll that the sport of wrestling took on all the competitors was relentless.

    The great wrestler Fred Blassie wrestled through the pain with serious kidney problems. When the pain got to be too much, Blassie finally went to the hospital, where doctors told him they wanted to remove one of his kidneys. Blassie called me looking for some advice, so I headed down to the hospital to be with him.

    When I walked into his hospital room, Blassie was in such pain that he was up out of bed, jumping and writhing around the room, screaming in agony. I called for the doctors to give him some kind of injection or painkiller to give the poor guy a little relief from the pain.

    Left to right: Freddie Blassie, Hard-Boiled Haggerty and Ripper Collins use Civc Auditorium folding chairs as weapons in a tag team match that strays outside the ring. Photo Courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved. Left to right: Freddie Blassie, Hard-Boiled Haggerty and Ripper Collins use Civc Auditorium folding chairs as weapons in a tag team match that strays outside the ring. Photo Courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved.

    They took Blassie into surgery and removed one of his kidneys. It was a safe bet that his troubles were either brought on, or at least made worse, by years and years of brutal abuse to his internal organs inside the ropes.

    The Samoan wrestler Peter Maivia—superstar Neff Maiava’s cousin—was similarly afflicted with kidney problems. Doctors also went in and removed one of Peter’s kidneys. Even though the medical care at that time could not definitively tell if the wrestlers’ kidney problems were a direct result of being punched and kicked in the ring, with both Blassie and Maiava I felt a huge sense of responsibility for their situations, and I footed all the medical bills for their surgeries and recoveries.

    So … pro wrestling’s all fake?

    Ask Maivia. Ask Blassie. Ask their doctors.

    Or ask Sonny Myers.

    Myers was a wrestling friend of mine, a tough shooter originally from Missouri. One night at our match in Waco, Texas, things got way out of control. Sonny was trying to get out of the ring and away from the crazed mob when two guys grabbed him and held him. Another fan pulled out a long, curved linoleum knife and sliced Sonny across his belly, right through his wrestling trunks.

    Sonny’s intestines spilled out into his hands.

    It was an absolute miracle that the knife wound didn’t cut into Sonny’s intestines. We rushed him to the ER—still holding his intestines—and the doctor was able to sew him up. Sonny was back in the ring wrestling within a few months. (In fact, Sonny had a long career in wrestling, and went on to train a host of young wrestlers, among them Hulk Hogan.)

    Fake? Ask a couple of wrestlers named Yukon Eric and Killer Kowalski.

    In the waning moments of a big match between the two of them, I was watching as Killer slammed Eric near the corner of the ring. Then Killer climbed up on the top ropes for the big finale. He leapt off the ropes, with the intent of appearing to land on Eric’s throat.

    But Killer missed his mark. Kowalski’s knee accidentally swiped the side of Eric’s head with such immense force that it popped Eric’s ear clean off. I watched, awestruck, as the ref grabbed the ear and put it in his pocket.

    Eric was rushed to the hospital, but the ear could not be reattached.

    (One sad footnote: Yukon Eric’s life ended tragically. Some years later, Eric returned home from a wrestling road trip to find that his wife had left him, and had taken all the furniture. He was despondent. Yukon Eric drove to his church, parked his car, put a gun to his head and shot himself dead.)

    So. Pro wrestling. All a big, phony show? Just silly, light entertainment? No consequences? All a big fake?

    You tell me.

    If this excerpt has got your blood up and you're looking for more hard-hitting inside stories, head to our online store to purchase your own copy of Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Big Time Wrestling!

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