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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Book Review: The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told

boxing books
Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told
Boxing, perhaps more than any other sport, is as much about its history and lore as it is about current fighters.  The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told is a collection of essays and stories that continue that tradition.  This book is an excellent read.

Edited by Jeff Silverman, The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told is a collection of thirty-six essays and stories about the sweet science.  Silverman includes pieces from many different eras written by very different authors.  Some stories are about fights.  Some are about fighters.  Some are true.  Some are fiction.  And, as with many aspects of boxing lure, some stories are probably a little bit of both.  In the introduction of the book, Silverman states, "Unlike its athletic brethren, boxing needs no translations as it moves from culture to culture across time and around the globe."  For this reason, non-boxing fans, even non-sports fans, will find something enlightening and inspiring in this book.

I am a relatively new boxing fan.  I first heard about this book on the Top Men Boxing podcast.  I purchased the book to learn more about the history of the sport.  That mission was accomplished.  I was introduced to the writing of venerable sports journalists such as Frank Deford and Robert M. Lipsyte.  I learned about Billy Conn's family life and Benny Paret's brutal death in the ring.  This book also includes fictional accounts from literary giants such as O. Henry and Jack London.

My favorite story in this book was the short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle titled, "The Croxley Master."  I grew up in the shadow of the coal mines of Norhteastern PA.  That story was written about a century before my birth and takes place in Whales, yet, it captured the sporting culture of where I grew up.  That story showed that no matter the era, sports is important to the people who sweat and bleed to feed their families.

In compiling such a varied array of essays and stories written by such a diverse group of writers, Jeff Silverman effectively communicates the timeless nature of boxing and of sports.  The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told is an excellent and pleasurable read for fans of boxing, fans of sport and fans of the human race.


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