There are a lot of sides to Dick Beyer. As The Sensational, Intelligent Destroyer, he was a Japanese icon; as Dick Beyer, he was a successful football player and wrestler; as Doctor X, he was AWA World champion. So when co-author Vince Evans sat down with Beyer to write the star’s autobiography, there was a lot of ground to cover.
The just-released book, Masked Decisions: The Triangular Life of Dick ‘The Destroyer’ ‘Doctor X’ Beyer; From American Athlete to International Icon, is actually Beyer’s second autobiography, with the first coming out a few years ago.
“Our tact was to tell how Dick Beyer developed, his values, his story. He wanted more of his family to come through this particular story than the one that came out in Japan in Japanese,” said Evans.
Wilma Beyer, Dick’s wife, explained it a little differently. “He tells it like it is. He gives a lot of background about his career, how he got started as the Destroyer, how he got started as Dr. X. It’s a very interesting story.”
Beyer himself said that it is “an autobiography of Dick Beyer and his family,” and is pleased that “it’s got more humour in it” than the usual autobiography. Besides the text that recalls his early days through today, there are lots of Beyer’s personal photos.
Masked Decisions has been in the works for about eight years, said Evans, who was a Buffalo, NY-based freelance writer assigned to do a profile of Beyer for an over-55 lifestyle magazine when they first met. Beyer liked the piece, and there was half-hearted talk of an autobiography. The two met up again when Beyer was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, and it was then that it turned into more than just talk.
“I write pretty good, but I’m not capable enough to write a book,” admitted Beyer. “It took a number of years to get it moving and going, actually three years as far as getting it written. That’s really how the story came to be,” said Evans, who now lives in San Jose, California, and runs a cancer hospice.
The next challenge was finding a publisher. Despite sending out a couple of dozen proposals, the only bite came from Beyer’s alma mater, Syracuse, which agreed to publish the book — in a couple of years.
In the end, it was self-published, with some help from Outskirts Press in physically putting the book (and e-book) together.
“After some soul-searching and some talk about this option, that’s how we went,” said Evans.
Though his name isn’t on the cover, both Beyer and Evans give a lot of credit to Steve Yohe, the esteemed historian who has compiled the massive Destroyer Record Book listing thousands of Beyer’s bouts along with clippings.
“His ring record was absolutely critical. Without that, I wouldn’t have had a significant timeline, I wouldn’t have had some of the key matches, the dates that he provided,” said Evans. “A lot of it is centered on Yohe’s work, and I give him a tremendous amount of credit. It really was the road map, if you will, that we used to get through from Point A to Point B, particularly in the wrestling world and the matches that he had. Yohe’s work was absolutely essential. I don’t know if I could have completed the work without it, it was that critical.”
Beyer said Yohe’s record book helped keep things in line. “I wanted to make sure what I had in the book was exactly what I did. I didn’t want to exaggerate the story. I wanted it to be true and to the point,” Beyer said. Evans stressed that the book is far more complex than a straightforward life story.
“It is a biography, but there’s actually a story in there. It does have some turns and twists that happened in his life,” Evans said, bringing up the example of Beyer’s divorce from his first wife, and how it broke in the Japanese press. “It was a difficult time for him, and we wanted to play out how difficult it was for his family.”
To really help him understand what went on, Evans was able to collect the memories of Beyer’s two grown children, Kris and Kurt.
“Kris and Kurt gave me front row seats to their experiences, to what happened, how it was told to them, what their emotional reactions were,” said Evans. “All that is built into the book. I think it reads more like a personal story, somebody’s trials and their successes.”
Right now, the book is available through Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com, and all hope that it will eventually make its way into bookstores. Hobbled at the moment by a bad back, Beyer is hoping to feel well enough to start hitting the media trail.
“It’s certainly not a moneymaking proposition. We’re just happy to get the story out. We’ll see where it takes us,” concluded Evans.