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Inside the early days of pro wrestling

Chris Multerer (right) takes on an opponent.

Chris Multerer (right) takes on an opponent.

March 3, 2014

Chris Multerer is wrestling with his past.

The descendant of the "golden age" of professional wrestling has told his story in "Job Man: My 25 Years in Pro Wrestling," and will discuss his just-printed book during an author visit March 24 at the Wauwatosa Public Library.

More than 10 years removed from his wrestling career, Multerer (a.k.a. Chris Curtis) co-wrote the book with longtime friend and Wauwatosa resident Larry Widen. The book describes the work of a "job man," specially trained to participate by mostly showcasing the talents of wrestling's star attractions. The job of these character actors was not for the faint of heart.

His book, a collection of stories and anecdotes — starts with an acknowledgment that his 57-year-old body feels the pain inflicted by wrestlers such as Crusher, Mad Dog Vachon and Hulk Hogan.

"People say pro wrestling is faked," Multerer wrote, "but that's not quite true. Yes, it is presented as entertainment and we are telling stories in the ring, but 'fake' isn't the right way to put it. Every competent wrestler has the capability to seriously injure his opponent. The art of professional wrestling is learning to take potentially dangerous falls in such a way as to render them harmless. One wrong move and you're in a wheelchair for life."

Why Tell?

Still standing, now at 6 feet, 275-pounds, he wanted to tell his story because he knows there are still pro wrestling fans of all ages who want to know more, he said.

"I fell in love with it when I was 9 years old," he said. "It's just something that catches your eye."

A Milwaukee native who changed his surname for wrestling, Multerer said his interest grew and he turned the attraction into a side career lasting more than two decades. He fit wrestling around his occupations as he provided security for several local hospitals and served as a director of environmental services for Milwaukee School of Engineering.

"I was fortunate to meet the right people, get into it and get the training," Multerer said. "When I was in it, some people badmouthed professional wrestling, but I loved the business and being able to travel throughout Wisconsin and across the nation. When you have a dream, you follow it."

Fan Base

Multerer expects to address fans of all ages at his Wauwatosa author talk.

"A lot of people still remember pro-wrestling from years ago," he said. "Like myself, they grew up following it, and youngsters today have heard about those days. People are interested in the details of how it worked and the stories involving the better-known wrestlers."

He also wants to delineate between pro wrestling's past and present.

"Today's wrestlers are all musclemen, and they don't do what we did because people don't want to see headlocks and leg locks," Multerer said. "Now it's all acrobatics."

He also emphasized that the book is not a tell-all.

"It's got some history and it's clean without sexual references or references to rehab," Multerer said. "It does have some colorful language. It's not a book about how to make coffeecakes."

Tag Team

Multerer and Widen have known each other since 1973, when they both worked at a local restaurant. As their friendship continued, Widen experienced his friend's foray into pro wrestling.

"I was with Chris when he wrestled a 600-pound bear at the Sentinel Sports show," Widen states in the book's introduction. "I was in that drafty old ballroom on Fond du Lac Avenue when he stepped into a ring for the very first time. And I was there when he worked a superstar opponent at the Arena less than a year later."

That was not the only thing Widen noted.

"I saw the whole thing from a different vantage point," he wrote. "After Chris' match, I found myself watching the fans as they lived, for a moment, inside the drama playing out before their very eyes."

That experience, amid many others, led Widen to the only answer he could give when asked to co-write the book.

"You can see why it took me almost one whole second to say 'yes.'"

MEET THE "JOB MAN"

WHAT: author talk and book signing for "Job Man: My 25 Years in Pro Wrestling"

WHO: Chris Multerer (aka Chris Curtis)

WHEN: 7 p.m. March 24

WHERE: Wauwatosa Public Library, 7635 W. North Ave.

MORE: Go to Lulu.com and search "Job Man." Also sold at The Little Read Book in Wauwatosa.

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