Growing up in North Carolina, William Murdock was a big wrestling fan, and a huge fan of Jack Brisco. Little did he know that 20 years later, he’d be teaming with his boyhood hero on the former world champ’s memoirs.
Entitled Brisco: The Life and Times of National Collegiate and World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco, it was a project that took longer than expected for Murdock and Brisco, but it’s been worth the wait.
The duo were recently at the NCAA wrestling nationals to peddle the book. It was Brisco’s first trip to the nationals since he won the whole shebang back in 1965. Needless to say, everyone was pleased to see the former champ back in the fold.
“Dan Gable came over. They’d never met. He said, ‘Jack Brisco, 191 pounds, 1965, Oklahoma State.’ He knew the whole thing. It was great,” recalled Murdock for SLAM! Wrestling, mentioning Gable, probably the greatest amateur wrestler the U.S. collegiate program has ever produced.
According to Murdock, Brisco got a “tremendous reception” at the nationals. What surprised the writer was who was excited. The old teammates and high school friends were expected; the kids who had never seen Brisco work were a revelation.
“What was neat about the book was young kids would come up. We had the heavyweight title belt there. So they were looking at that,” Murdock explained. “I said, ‘Do you know who Jack is?’ ‘No.’ ‘He’s a three-time state high school champion, runner-up in ’64 national championships, national champion in ’65, two-time world champion.’ ‘He did all that?’ It really appeals to the young kids who want to read about his high school stuff. It appeals to national champions and guys of that level. And the pro fans are there too.”
It’s not a salacious biography by any means, but a book meant to be read by anyone.Murdock himself got into amateur wrestling as a youth, in part because of the influence of high-profile grapplers like Brisco, so he brought a familiarity with both the pro and amateur styles to the table.
A friend of the late Lou Thesz, and in the wrestling loop in North Carolina because of a charity golf tournament he is a part of, Murdock was asked to write a story on Brisco for Win Magazine by amateur wrestling proponent Mike Chapman, who dabbles in publishing. It steamrolled from there.
“[Jack’s] a big Duke fan, and I went to Duke. We just kind of hit it off kept in contact, talking back and forth,” Murdock said. A couple of trips to Brisco’s Tampa, Florida home and countless phone calls later and the book was completed.
During the bulk of his day, Murdock is the executive director of Eblen Charities, working with families with illnesses and disabilities in North Carolina. He credits the example set by his squared circle heroes as part of the reason for his desire to help others.
“I did this in gratitude kind of to Jack and everyone who is mentioned there, because I think they’ve done a lot for me,” he said.
His local connections came in handy for the cover too. “The cover was designed by Greg Harrison. Greg Harrison also designed the Ultimate Fighting octagon. He’s a friend of mine. We actually wrestled on the same high school wrestling team.”
Up next, Murdock is working with Nikita Koloff on an autobiography and mulling a run at a book about the NWA World title after all his research for Brisco.