Read these great books about boxers and boxing, the toughest sport in the world.
1. King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero by David Remnick
“On the night in 1964 that Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) stepped into the ring with Sonny Liston, he was widely regarded as an irritating freak who danced and talked way too much. Six rounds later Ali was not only the new world heavyweight boxing champion: He was “a new kind of black man” who would shortly transform America’s racial politics, its popular culture, and its notions of heroism.”
2. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser
“In the words of more than 200 of Ali’s family members, opponents, friends, world leaders, and others who have known him best, the real Muhammad Ali emerges: deeply religious, mercurial, generous, a showman in and out of the ring.”
3. Phantom by Kevin King
“A story of hopeless love—a serial philanderer and gambler married to a woman much younger—and impossible love—his wife, Casey Googan, and a black boxer. Turn of the century Boston comes alive with crew races, balloon races, boxing, rat-baiting, and fashion competitions judged by Isabella Stuart Gardner. Boston’s sculling champion, blue-blood Foxhall Codman, is obsessed with the possibility that the phantom sculler who rowed through him in fog on the Charles River was a woman. Thirty-thousand spectators—Brahmins and geeks, catch-penny operators and thimble riggers—turn out for the epic race on the Charles, a battle of the sexes prefiguring Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King seven decades later.”
4. On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates
“Joyce Carol Oates at first seems like an odd choice as an expert on the sport. A frail academic known for her moving stories of family interaction, she wouldn’t at first strike you as a devotee to a sport that most academics abhor. But she is a lifelong fan. Her father was a fan and it seems that it runs in the blood. She’s been going to matches and watching them on film since she was a young girl, and due to her thoughtful approach and extraordinary access she manages to coax the true spirit of the athletes from a myriad of interviews.”—Review via Amazon.com
5. Reading the Fights: The Best Writing About the Most Controversial of Sports by Joyce Carol Oates and Daniel Halpern
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