While Knievel was healing from his latest round of injuries, the book Evel Knievel on Tour was released. Authored by Knievel's promoter for the Snake River Canyon jump, Sheldon Saltman, the book painted a less than perfect picture of Knievel's character and alleged that he abused his wife and kids and that he used drugs. Knievel, with both arms still in casts, flew to California to confront Saltman, a VP at Twentieth Century Fox. Outside the studio commissary, one of Knievel's friends grabbed Shelly and held him, while Knievel attacked him with an aluminum baseball bat, declaring, "I'm going to kill you!" According to a witness to the attack, Knievel struck repeated blows at Saltman's head, with Saltman blocking the blows with his left arm. Saltman's arm and wrist were shattered in several places before he fell to the ground unconscious. It took numerous surgeries and permanent metal plates in his arm to eventually give Saltman back the use of his arm. He had been a left-handed competitive tennis player before the attack.
When reports of the savage attack on Saltman were shown on the evening news, Saltman's elderly mother back in Boston suffered a heart attack from the shock and died soon thereafter. In addition, Sheldon Saltman's book was pulled from the shelves by the publisher after Knievel threatened to sue. Saltman later produced documents in both criminal and civil court that proved that, although Knievel claimed to have been insulted by statements in Saltman's book, he and his lawyers had actually been given editorial access to the book and had approved and signed off on every word prior to its publication. A judge in the case called Knievel's actions among the "most despicable" and "cowardly" that he had ever seen. On October 14, 1977, Knievel pleaded guilty to battery and was sentenced to three years probation and six months in the county jail, during which he publicly flaunted his brief incarceration for the press as just one more publicity stunt.
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