By Tim Hornbaker
On an ezboard internet website entitled Kayfabe Memories in early 2002, several topics
having to do with the legendary “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers and his controversial exit from
professional wrestling in 1963, struck a cord with die hard enthusiasts. Wrestling fans were
completely enthralled by the new history being shared and the topics provided much fodder
for discussion. Many interested followers came out of the shadows to share in their
memories of Rogers and their recollections of the WWWF. Despite the fact that much of the
narrative was eventually found to be more of a fiction than fact, many positive pieces of
information came out of the collective search for the truth.
But one question was never answered. Just who was Max Jacobs?
Jacobs was the author of a college term paper entitled Buddie Rogers and The Art of
Sequencing – The Poetry of Performance in Professional Wrestling that had circulated
throughout the wrestling community for years. It was the subject of intense debate and
heavily scrutinized by serious minded enthusiasts and researchers. Altogether, the
document provided a perceptive look at one of the most dynamic professional grapplers in
history, the famous “Nature Boy.”
Those intrigued by the threads on Kayfabe Memories all eagerly wanted a copy of the
Rogers term paper, and the document eventually ended up on the web. While some
answers rested within the thesis itself, many more questions remained, especially the most
pertinent having to do with the individual responsible.
Wrestling fans guessed endlessly, pegging the writer to be possibly an old promoter, Rogers’
s ex-manager Bobby Davis, or perhaps one of Buddy’s relatives. One rumor even said it
was put together by a relative of wrestler Ralph Silverstein. Nobody knew for sure, and the
Several years later, two more papers by Jacobs emerged: "The Role of Promoter in
Professional Wrestling" and "Milo and The Halitosis Kid." They were both arranged after in-
depth interviews with longtime NWA kingpin Sam Muchnick and former wrestler and Orlando
promoter Milo Steinborn. Milo and The Halitosis Kid, a whopping 367 pages, retraced
wrestling history back to the latter part of the 19th Century, and painted a picture that – like
the document on Buddy Rogers – was highly unique and informative. Elaborating on such
influential figures as “Toots” Mondt, Vincent McMahon, Jack Pfefer, and, of course,
Steinborn, Jacobs presented some of the most well researched information ever put
together on wrestling.
Within the Milo manuscript were a few interesting tidbits that eventually helped find the
source. Max, on page 302, wrote that Louis Jacobs was the “author’s father.” Louis was an
entrepreneur involved in the concessions business at arenas throughout the U.S., and his
son described how his operation expanded. It was the first real look at the man behind the
Accepting that the author was very likely the son of the famous businessman, and not
anyone directly involved in professional wrestling, several historians put their minds together
in effort to collate all of the known facts about Max Jacobs. Shortly thereafter, it was decided
that someone should reach to him to finally get clarification on the matter.
After a hiatus, I utilized a promising lead, and on the afternoon of March 5, 2007, I engaged
in an hour long dialogue with Max Jacobs, the man behind the term papers. Max was not
only alive and well, but willing to share in all his memories of his time studying pro wrestling.
In his 69 years, Jacobs has been involved in several different careers. He’s a classically
trained actor with more than 100 credits under his belt, and former vice president at
Delaware North Companies, an international conglomerate providing hospitality, food, and
After selling out of the business in the early 1980s, Max considered going back into theater.
He attended courses on the road to a masters degree at New York University, and wrote the
three papers on wrestling for his American Theatre class, taught by Professor Brooks
McNamara. A dedicated philanthropist, Max was surprised by my inquiry, and admitted to
not having really talked about pro wrestling for 20 years.
Growing up around arenas and various sports, Jacobs was wise to the wrestling craft from a
young age. He wasn’t really a fan of the hysterics, but admired the performance aspects,
and called Buddy Rogers an “incredible individual” with a tremendous ability to draw heat.
Rogers first caught his eye at a match in Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium, at a time in which
Buddy’s antics were stirring up fans from coast-to-coast. Rogers wasn’t the biggest draw of
his era for nothing, and when Max finally got to interview Buddy in the early 1980s, much
more of his story was revealed.
His meeting with the “Nature Boy” at an gymnasium in Camden was the nucleus for the
Rogers paper, and there he was first introduced to the term “Sequencing.” Jacobs explained
that Rogers used the word “sequencing” for his wrestling performance, the act of applying
particular maneuvers in a chain-like order to drive the audience’s reactions. Buddy
understood how considerable a factor timing was, how victories for a heel had to be carefully
crafted to keep fans enthusiastic, and the importance of having a trustworthy opponent – all
to portray the perfect in-ring story. Rogers named Billy Darnell and Johnny Valentine as his
two top rivals based on the standards he, the eternal perfectionist, set.
Jacobs said that Buddy’s flying piledriver was a “spectacular move,” one that would seriously
injure an opponent if not handled the right way. In his opinion, Rogers was a “supremely
great artist,” and with great familiarity of acting talent, Max stated that he “never saw a guy
use his whole body [in the act of performance] like Rogers.”
A connection through his family concessions business at the Kiel Auditorium got Jacobs in to
see Sam Muchnick, and in St. Louis, he interviewed the promoter extensively. Muchnick
recommended that he see Paul Jones in Atlanta, Paul Boesch in Houston, and, finally, the
grand old man, Steinborn. He spent several days in Orlando discussing decades and
decades of history with Milo, putting together a massive database of information. Not only
did Steinborn possess an outstanding memory in his late 80s, but he was still extremely
tough. They talked from morning to night about Pfefer, Mondt, McMahon, and the man
Jacobs, and all of his wrestling mentors, called the “best,” Ed “Strangler” Lewis.
From his multitude of wise sources, Jacobs contributed further to the examination of
grappling’s deep past by adding the Muchnick and Steinborn documents. In addition, he
wrote a fourth piece on wrestling about Boesch.
Readers of his work recognize the time and effort that went into researching the topics he
wrote about, and the appreciation Mr. Jacobs had for the art of professional wrestling. He
viewed the sport with a different perspective, dismissing the typical grappling shenanigans to
focus on the actual science of “working” in a match. With a character like Buddy Rogers
elevating the standard of a performer to an unreachable apex, Max saw the best as his best,
and he still vividly remembers the wrestler who made the biggest impression on him.
My sincere gratitude to Mr. Max Jacobs for his willingness to share his memories.
March 6, 2007
|Max Jacobs – The Man Behind the Myth