Great Book for Turn-of-the-Century Boxing Fans
Any fans out there of old-school boxing circa 1900 and thereabouts? I just read a great fictionalized biography of Stanley Ketchel the great middle-weight champ. The fight scene's felt very real to me, althogh I'm not a boxer. The character development and overall story-arc is fantastic and the whole book has a sort of dusty outlaw western noir vibe. Lots of famous historical personalities make appearances including a drunk Jack London, a brief appearance by The Champ John L. Sullivan, and, of course, the Galvaston Giant. The book is called "The Killings of Stanley Ketchel" by James Carlos Blake. I cannot speak to the biographical accuracy of it, but the fights are correct (i.e. his wins and losses are describes as such in the book).
I am reading boxing stuff to stay inspired, and am getting ready to hang a poster print of that painting of the Dempsey-Firpo fight in my workout room. Any recommendations for other great boxing reads from the 1900s-1940s?
I'm assuming that you're looking for good pugilistic fiction, rather than instructional manuals. The best I've ever read is "Black Ajax" by George MacDonald Fraser, who also famously wrote the Flashman series. It's an excellent fictionalized account of the career of Tom Molineaux, the ex-slave who fought his way to the top of the bare-knuckle circuit in early 19th century England.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also wrote a series of boxing novels.
Agreed. "Black Ajax" by the late George MacDonald Fraser is absolutely Terrific. I wish I could write something like that so well. Gets my vote :-)
Sounds great, I plan on checking it out after I finish "Mongoliad." I am also interested in any good old-timey boxer biographies. I just read a great one about Jack Dempsey, and another good one about his rival Gene Tuney.
Another good read that I recommend pretty highly (keeping in mind that I am not an historian) is Hitters, Dancers, and Ring Magicians. It covers brief biographies of several great fighers from the early 1900s.
Yeah, I've read "The Manassa Mauler" by Randy Roberts. No Fight Record. Major drawback.
"Gene Tunney" can't remember who wrote it. Virtue of Full Right Record for both Gene + Jack.
There's another on Jack, which I got from some kind soul on Bullshido, "A Flame Of Pure Fire" which is pretty good. The best one is "Dempsey by Dempsey" his autobio.
Yes, you're among friends in boxing books :-)
Can you recommend a good bio of Gentleman Jim or John L? Ive never been able to find one. If historical fiction is of interest ' a conspiracy of paper' has a protagonist based on Daniel Mendoza.
Daniel Mendoza? Yes, familiar with him from an early age - he was featured in a children's comic when I was young. Egan refers to him as does AJ Leibling.
John L? I don't know that he wrote his autobio nor have I come across a bio, although he was featured heavily in The Ring mag in the 1950s and of course in many an anthology.
For Corbett, he wrote "Scientific Boxing" and you can find it on LULU as The Great Kirk Lawson scanned it and published as a Free PDF. Gentleman Jim also features in the bio of Tunney, in that they sparred and apparently even at his advanced age, Corbett proved elusive to hit - much to Tunney's surprise.
Other than that, I'll have a little think. If I can help answer any questions, fire away.
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