The (ostensible) subject of this book is pre-WWII flyweight (max wgt 112 lbs) boxer Benny Lynch (b. 1913, pro career 1931-38, world champion 1937-38, d. 1946). The first Scottish world champ, Lynch, whose paternal grandparents had emigrated from Ireland, was something of an anomaly in that he was a hard-hitting, two-fisted slugger who was, nonetheless, "light on his feet", able to "bounce" around his opponent while searching for an opening and then dart into range and fire fast, powerful blows. He was also atypical becuz he could fight from both a right-hander's (aka "conventional" or "orthodox") stance and a left-hander's (aka "southpaw") stance. Further,ore, even though he was left-handed, Lynch fought predominantly out of a conventional stance.
In addition, unlike many fighters who were adept at pressuring their opponents &/or threw a high volume of punches, Lynch did not fight out of a crouch, but stood relatively erect, carrying his hands somewhat low. And, although he did not "employ" upper body movement, "slip" punches, or routinely try to block them with his gloves or elbows, he wasn't easy to hit largely becuz of his deft footwork. Of course, even if he WAS hit, Lynch wasn't particularly concerned becuz he flaunted a great chin and, for someone with such fair skin, was very resistant to facial laceration. Suffice it to say, at his peak, Benny Lynch was one of the greatest fighters in the flyweight division's storied history and this offering from John Burrowes was the first and, sadly, is still the only "full scale" bio of this superb pugilist.
Unfortunately, the author couldn't seem to decide whether he was writing a Benny Lynch bio or a history of the Gorbals, the section of Glasgow in which Lynch was born and raised. The first chapters of the book are spent describing Lynch's ancestral homeland and then the Gorbals - including its ethnic composition (due to wave upon wave of immigration), day-to-day life, and it's more colourful personalities - and it isn't until chapter 7 (of 20) that Lynch is finally placed front and centre. But, after finally introducing his ostensible subject, Burrowes often switches his focus back and forth from Lynch to other Gorbals inhabitants (or other fellow Scots). Sometimes these "sidetrip" profiles are pertinent to this bio - like the case of future Lynch manager-trainer Sammy Wilson or Alex Farries, an early Lynch rival with whom Benny would later become good friends - but, other times, the author profiles someone plain and simply becuz he seems to have found her/him to be an interesting (Gorbals) "character" despite the fact that they are irrelevant to the main story (for ex, Burrowes devotes an entire chapter to Tash Conlin, a neighbourhood "sage").
To make matters worse for a bio about a boxer, Burrowes' descriptions of the action in Lynch's most important bouts are very brief - sometimes comprised of a single sentence - inexcusable omissions from such a book. Just as irritating is the fact that the author gives little information about each of Lynch's most famous opponents - this, after having spent so much time providing sketches of various "characters" who weren't remotely as important to a boxing bio as the fighters themselves, such as boxing promoter George Dingley and bookie Hugh McAlevey, each of whom receive chapter-long profiles even though little is said of either - especially McAlevey - the rest of the book.
Other problems with this book are that it lacks an index (a must for a boxing bio), footnotes/endnotes, and a bibliography (the latter two points being important becuz, for ex, the reader cannot ascertain which "facts" have been provided by "primary sources" or which opinions have been given by which "experts"). And, unlike previous editions of this Burrowes' book, this 2005/6 paperback doesn't contain any photos (the first edition was published in 1982).
On the plus side, the author is a good descriptive writer and many of his vignettes of scenes of Gorbals life and sketches of various local "characters" are informative and entertaining, respectively, He also does a good job relating Lynch's losing battle with alcohol, which caused his very rapid decline from the pinnacle of his profession, and his split with shrewd, devoted manager-trainer Wilson, a foolish decision on the champion's part that drastically hastened his fall from grace (both of which serve as excellent cautionary tales for boxers on the dangers of substance abuse or other excesses and of surrounding oneself with self-serving, covetous parasites). In addition, Burrowes' descriptions of Lynch's training regimen is informative and thorough (which, unfortunately, makes his lack of elaboration of the ring action and Lynch's noteworthy opponents all the more puzzling and annoying).
Despite the above issues, this book is, on the whole, a decent enuf read and probably worht the Amazon asking price plus shipping and handling charge). However, if one would like to acquaint oneself with the life and career of Benny Lynch BUT is NOT interested in reading about Irish emigration to Scotland and the "sights and sounds" and characters of pre-WWII Gorbals, does NOT want to spend the time to read 200+ pages, &/or does NOT want to shell out $15+ for this book, I suggeast that one check out the boxing recordkeeping site BoxRec to view Lynch's bout-by-bout ring record; read the article, "The Enduring Legend of Benny Lynch: Why the Cheers Have Never Died", which was written by Ed Maloney and ran in the June 1992 issue of The Ring magazine (the so-called "Bible of Boxing"); and check out the available film footage of Lynch's bouts on YouTube.