The holidays are upon us once again and that means lots of food, snow, awful renditions of Christmas Carols and of course, holiday shopping. Got that boxing fan in the family you don’t know what to get or are you said boxing fan looking for gift ideas for yourself? Well relax, Santa Schweitzer is here to make your life a little easier with this great guide to boxing books to get this holiday season. If you’re a person who’s saying, “Hey, I don’t wanna read books! I want some new boxing gloves!!!”, then go buy some boxing gloves, dummy! If it’s something you’re going to put on your body, you should know what you want. Besides, if you’re coming to me for advice on what kind of athletic cup to buy… well, just don’t come to me at all.
Here are some books that I myself have read throughout the years which I’m recommending to you, my loyal readers. So, get out those credit cards, because nothing’s cheap today.
Beautiful pictures from photographer Jim Lommasson with an introduction by the late Bert Sugar and a forward written by the late Joe Frazier, Shadow Boxers is nice coffee-table book that includes pictures from boxing gyms all over America with essays and stories from a wide range of writers that’ll have your interest peaked and might inspire you to grab a camera of your own and stop by your local boxing gym to snap a few shots.
For those of you who felt that the 2001 biopic Ali felt like a live action Disney movie about the all-time-great boxer, this book is a great look at the rise of one of the biggest icons of the 20th century. And while the book is about Ali, it is also about the two champions who preceded him, Floyd Patterson, a person who always seemed like the least-likely person to ever be heavyweight champion, and Sonny Liston, the man almost no one ever wanted to have as champion. It gives a great insight into Ali as well as behind the scenes details into his fights with Patterson and Liston. For example, did you know that Malcolm X played a major role in heavyweight history leading up to the first fight between Liston and Ali (then Clay)? If you pick up this book, you’ll find out more than you could have ever possible imagined. And after you’re done it, you’ll probably give it to Michael Mann and say, “You should have read this!”
In his last year of eligibility, Robert Anasi, then thirty-three, decided to fight in the Golden Gloves tournament, the premier event in amateur boxing. As the gym becomes a way of life for Anasi, it does for the reader as Anasi ushers the reader into a world of training and competition, of friendly rivalry, of artistry and violence.
I bought this book when I first got into boxing and I’ve probably read it at least 20 times since. While some might not be interested in the journey of an older amateur, I really enjoy reading Anasi’s journey over and over because I can relate to it. The uneasiness of entering the gym for the first time, not really getting the basics, the tension one feels before sparring. It’s a great look at the good and bad of the sport as well as the world around him. A really great book.
Like many of you, I thought I learned everything I could about the Tyson/Douglas fight via HBO’s excellent Legendary Nights series. I was blown away by how much Layden was able to give the history of Buster Douglas, who in my opinion, was the most reluctant heavyweight champion since Floyd Patterson. But Layden also goes into great deal of the performance that resulted in the greatest upset in boxing history. But also it’s a great portrait of Tyson who sadly was never the same after that fight. The same goes for Douglas who was close to death just five years after his greatest victory. I don’t want to talk too much about this book mainly because so many of you know the story but this book will tell you so much that you didn’t know. If you’re a Tyson fan or a fan of boxing history, I strongly recommend this book.
Aside from my birth, another great thing about the 1980’s was boxing’s welterweight and middleweight division. The quartet of Roberto Duran, Sugary Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler made boxing great as themselves legends. Journalist George Kimball goes over the history of each fighter and each fight between two of them. Again, while most fans might know the history of the fights, but there’s a lot that you’ll learn in this book as well. For example, did you know that the epic Hagler/Hearns brawl almost took place in Windsor, Ontario?
If you can, go out and get these books because I’ve really enjoyed them and I have a feeling you will too. And if you have some books of your own that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to recommend them to me.