10 Best Books About Boxing Update 05/2022

It’s an irony to some people, but it makes sense to others. Boxing is near the top of the list when it comes to violence in the name of victory, but it’s also a sport that has long been a favorite of great writers.

Hemingway and other big names in literature were in love with the drama of the ring and how it could be used to write great stories. And still others looked at the real-life events and made nonfiction books about great fights, great fighters, or great personalities that have been around for a long time. To get a taste of 10 books that are good for summer reading, click here. The scope of those works is too wide and the tastes of readers are too different to come up with a list of the 10 best boxing-themed books.

Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano

Alan Scott Haft tells the story of how his father made an incredible journey from a concentration camp in World War II to a fight with Rocky Marciano in 1949. Tells the story of Harry Haft, who had to fight other prisoners for German SS officers to make them laugh. The fight with Marciano was Haft’s 21st and last fight in the ring. He went 13-8 with eight knockouts.

Reading the Fights

Joyce Carol Oates and Daniel Halpern put together a collection of 23 essays from some of the best writers in the world, like Oates, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Pete Hamill, and A.J. Liebling.

It said that “These 23 essays by a wide range of writers would make us think that a boxing match is not a fight between two guys who fight with their fists.”

The Fight

“The Rumble in the Jungle” is a 240-page book by Norman Mailer. It tells all the stories from the 1974 world heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, which was called “The Rumble in the Jungle.”

“His hands were his tools, and he kept them in his pockets like a hunter puts his rifle back into its velvet case.” This passage alone is worth the price of admission.

Charley Burley, the Life and Hard Times of an Uncrowned Champion

Without being a speed-reader, this 658-page book is likely to take up the weekend or most of a whole week.

It was a lot of fun to read Allen S. Rosenfeld’s book about Hall of Famer Burley, who was a 15-year pro but never won a title. Those words come from Archie Moore, who was a light heavyweight champion in the 1940s. Burley knocked him down four times in 1944, and he won the fight. This is what Moore said: He called the Pittsburgh fighter the hardest person he had ever faced.

Facing Ali

Considering how much information there is about Muhammad Ali, very few stones have been left unturned. Stephen Brunt, on the other hand, did a good job with his 2002 book, which talks about what it was like to fight “The Greatest” from the point of view of 15 men who had actually done it.

Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman, and Earnie Shavers are just some of the former champions who are telling their stories. Earnie Shavers is a slugger, as well as Tunney Hunsaker, Henry Cooper, George Chuvalo, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Jurgen Blin, Joe Bugner, Chuck Wepner, Ron Lyle, and Jean-Pierre Coopman.

The Onion Picker

In this 214-page book from 2007, Gary B. Youmans talks about boxing in the 1950s, with Central New York’s Carmen Basilio as the main theme.

From 1948 to 1961, the two-time middleweight champion fought 79 times, including two 160-pound bouts with Sugar Ray Robinson, both of which ended in split 15-round decisions. The book is full of stories and snippets from his career. Basilio died last November at the age of 85, and now the book is even more heartbreaking to read.

The View from Ringside

There is no surprise that these 272 pages from 2003 by Thomas Hauser are as good as they can be. Muhammad Ali biographer Gerry Cooney has written many books about the boxer, and this one is no exception. Cooney talks about Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins vs. Lou DiBella, TV commentators, and famous names like Gerry Cooney, Arturo Gatti, and Hasim Rahman.

Ali and Liston: The Boy Who Would Be King and the Ugly Bear

A biography of Ali is not the same as a biography of Ali. Rather, Bob Mee tells their story in a captivating back-and-forth rhythm over 336 pages, contrasting Cassius Clay’s comparatively easy life with Sonny Liston’s long-running problems, both real and perceived. There is a lot of talk about their early lives, as well as the 15-month period in 1964 and 1965 when they met twice for what was once the most prestigious prize in sports.

My View from the Corner: A Life in Boxing

This is a behind-the-scenes look at how a big fight is put together by Angelo Dundee and Bert Sugar. It includes talking to other trainers in a business that is both competitive and cooperative.

Dundee talks about how he helped Thomas Hearns after a fight with Ali on the Ali vs. Trevor Berbick show in the Bahamas. Emanuel Steward tried to help Hearns find a hospital that could treat his wound, but they couldn’t find one. Steward was in a hotel lobby when Dundee saw him. He put him in touch with a plastic surgeon he had on call for his own fighters. At the hotel, Hearns had 100 stitches done. He was ready to go after that.

The Last Great Fight

Buster Douglas fought for the 1990 heavyweight title in Tokyo. Joe Layden’s book about the fight is a must-read for anyone who loves the sport. Over 320 pages, not only do the 10 rounds get a lot of attention, but the less-known details about the fighters, their entourages, and the fight itself are also interesting. Putting together a package for one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time needs to be done right, and this one from 2007 more than does the job.

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