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To Be the Man is an autobiographical book written by professional wrestler Ric Flair and Keith Elliot Greenberg, and edited by Mark Madden. It was published by WWE Books and distributed by Simon & Schuster in July 2004. The book's title was taken from Flair's famous catchphrase: "To be the Man, you gotta beat the man!" Its retro cover design references the golden age of Flair's career.
To Be the Man reached No. 5 on the hardback, nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list. It reached No. 10 for nonfiction best-sellers in Publishers Weekly. Upon its release, Flair held a successful book signing at a Borders bookstore in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Nearly 13,000 copies sold between July 4 and July 11, according to Nielsen BookScan.
The book discusses Flair's strange youth and beginnings that lead him to stardom in promotions such as American Wrestling Association, National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling, and World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment.
Criticisms of wrestlers
To Be the Man received a lot of attention for his legitimate criticisms of certain wrestlers. Flair openly criticized Mick Foley, calling him a "glorified stuntman", in response to what Foley said about Flair in his book, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks: "Flair was every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side". While Flair admitted that he wasn't a great booker, he felt insulted by Foley's remark.
Flair also criticized Bret Hart, and even accused him of using Owen Hart's death to "grind his axe with Vince". In response, Hart wrote a scathing rebuttal debunking Flair's comments, while defending Foley and Randy Savage, another wrestler Flair criticized. Flair also criticized former WCW President Eric Bischoff for what he perceived to be poor treatment during his time in WCW, which in turn led to a backstage confrontation between the two before an episode of Raw in March 2003.
Praise of wrestlers
Among the list of wrestlers Flair had praise for in his book, they include:
- Harley Race
- Kurt Angle
- Stone Cold Steve Austin
- Terry Funk
- Ricky Steamboat
- The Undertaker
- The Rock
- Wahoo McDaniel
- Shawn Michaels
- Triple H
- Eddie Guerrero
- Arn Anderson
- Ricky Morton
- Blackjack Mulligan