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Barnhizer’s wrestling photos basis for book
wrestling book
Local resident Larry Barnhizer, displaying the book “When It was Big Time” consisting of some of work, will have 300 of his photos featured in a soon-to-be-released book named in his honor.

Larry Barnhizer and his legendary wrestling photos are back.

His camera eye and use of a 35-millimeter Minolta XD11 capsulized some the great ringside moments of Big Time Wrestling – try body slams and aerials from the likes of Pat Patterson, Ray Stevens, Andre the Giant, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, Pepper Martin, Kinji Shibuya, and Don Muraco, to name a few.

He was also there for Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura. Barnhizer, who was inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame not too long ago, once drove the latter – also known as “The Body” – to the airport.

His photos were featured in various wrestling magazines, from Montreal to New York, not to mention the Rock Rims book of a few years ago, “When it was Big Time.”

Next up is “More Than Thousand Words: The Larry Barnhizer Wrestling Scrapbook” from Flying Body Press. The official release date is Feb. 2.

“This is all my stuff – I’ve been waiting for something like this (book of my photos) all my life,” he said on Tuesday. 

According to Rims: “The book contains over 300 of Larry’s wrestling photos shot over a 30-year period in Northern California.”

A few pages from the book include the 1978 Wrestling Fans International Association in Knoxville.

Barnhizer has always been thankful for his chance encounter with Johnny Miller. He was a Modesto police officer in the late 1960s as well as the wrestling promotor at Uptown Arena.

Miller was talking with friends in an alley near Barnhizer’s apartment complex – through Miller, he became a regular at the Modesto venue, shooting up close and action photos of the popular wrestlers of the day.

“Johnny introduced me to all of the wrestlers,” said Barnhizer, who credited Miller for setting up interviews with all the big names. “We worked great as a team.”

He first tried using a rangefinder camera but had trouble getting his preferred shots. Barnhizer happily switched to the Minolta – it took him six months before he perfectly timed his aerial photos.

During his 40 years as a ringside photographer, Barnhizer, who had a family support – his wife, Linda, and son, Jeffrey – also worked at Spreckels Sugar Company in Manteca from 1960 to 1966, and Libby Owens Ford in Lathrop from 1966 to 1997.

He followed the Big Time Wrestling circuit, from home in Modesto to Bakersfield, Fresno, Stockton, Sacramento, and the Bay Area during those years.

“Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson were among the great wrestling tag teams of their day,” Barnhizer said.

He got the scope from the Mad Russian himself, Alexis Smirnoff, who confessed that he was actually French Canadian.

Sadly, Barnhizer said that many of his favorites from Big Time Wrestling have passed on.

They live on forever in his book, “More than Thousand Words.”

Cost is $20.95 per copy plus $4.25 shipping within the U.S.

To order, log on to WIWBTW or Rock Rims on Facebook, or email