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Kings Of The Ring: The History of Heavyweight Boxing [Hardcover]

Gavin Evans
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Sep 2005
This stylishly written, meticulously researched and richly illustrated book chronicles the history of heavyweight boxing through the lives of its champions, among them: the 18th-century Englishmen who battled bare fist, often in secret locations, backed by aristocratic patrons; the American John L Sullivan, last bare knuckle and first gloved champion - an eccentric drunk who would 'lick any man in the house' as long as their skin was white; Jack Dempsey, whose ferocious aggression attracted the first $1 million gate and Joe Louis, whose 11-year reign was viewed first as a triumph for black America and then as an American triumph; Rocky Marciano, who went through his entire career without defeat and, of course, Muhammad Ali, a man who rose above his own sport and all sport. And from there to the dark and brutal Mike Tyson - a figure hovering between triumph and tragedy - and the enigmatic Lennox Lewis, a champion who retired before it was too late. This is the story of the world heavyweight title-holders, men who have often risen from impoverished beginnings to achieve fame and fortune through the power and artistry of their fists. It is a story not just of fights and fighters, but of what made them into fighting men, of what became of them when their bodies could no longer answer the call, and of the times in which they lived in and the passions and prejudices that moulded their world.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; Ill edition (22 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297844202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297844204
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 21.6 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 494,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'dazzling... a handsome history of heavyweight boxing... stylishly written... terrific, arresting... it deserves a place on any fight fan's coffee table.' (THE INDEPENDENT)

'... this truly wonderful book ... fantastic photographs... It's a cliche to say "if you only buy one book on heavyweight boxing, make sure it's this one", but the simple truth is it has to be said.' (SUNDAY SPORT)

Book Description

A stunning illustrated tribute to heavyweight boxing, written by one of the sport's foremost writers,featuring the world's very best sports photography. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars kings of the ring 8 Nov 2005
By A Customer
I must admit I picked up ‘Kings of the Ring’ with a little trepidation. I like my sports books to be correct in every detail as well as sparkling and original, and I was concerned this might be coffee table fare – great on pictures but light on text. I found myself extremely pleasantly surprised.

The book is broken up into chapters on all the heavyweight champions and a few who never won universal recognition, from the bareknuckle days to the present, and yet it manages a seamlessly coherent narrative. In the early 20th century, for example, the theme is one of white (mainly Irish-American) men striving to the top while battling to keep African Americans out of the loop. This allows the author, Gavin Evans, to delve deeper than any other I have read into the lives of some of the great fighters who were frozen out of the title race (Peter Jackson, Sam Langford and Harry Wills) and also to look at the failings of the great champions with an unblinking eye.

He clearly admires many of these men and the way they fought, but he never allows that to blind him to their many faults. As he writes in his introduction, “In retrospect their flaws probably seem more remarkable than in their own airbrushed times: the extreme racism of most of the early white gloved champions, the violence against women and other men, the greed, the stupidity, the links with organised crime, the alcohol and the drugs.” All of this is exposed without recourse to euphemism or, indeed, for hyperbole and in some cases the picture that emerges is genuinely shocking.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Boxing Book 19 Nov 2005
I've always followed boxing and i have a good knowledge of the sport and most of the boxers of the last 15 years or so. However, previous to reading this book my boxing knowledge of the older fighters was extremely patchy at best. However reading this book changed all that and i now consider myself to have a pretty indepth knowledge of the history of heavyweight boxing.
The book is brilliantly layed put and presented, with some stunning photos in it. The acual writing is also up to these same high standards as well, and the book goes into great detail about the lives and careers of all of the great heavyweights of the last 100 years and beyond. The chapter on the origins of boxing and the bareknuckle era is particulary interesting as i didn't have a clue about this era at all previosly.
Basically, this book is absolutly perfect for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge on heavyweight boxing, but it is also just as perfect for boxing nuts who already know a lot about the sport. Recommended for all people interested in boxing
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kings of the Ring – a big hit with me 3 Nov 2005
By A Customer
Kings of the Ring lives up to its billing as a history of heavyweight boxing. All the great names are there from the bareknuckle sluggers to the highly trained athletes such as Lennox Lewis. I found the book to be a chronicle of the evolution of the heavyweight division demonstrating the great strides in technique and entertainment achieved over a relatively short time line. The book is a compromise between what the boxing purists would want and the requirements of tabloid newspaper readers. For the purists there are blow by blow accounts of some of the great clashes between these heavyweight titans. For those fascinated by sporting sleaze and scandal, the warts and all details of lives lived to the limit are all there. The irony is that such strong men in the ring can be so frail outside it when the crowds of admirers have gone. Big and glossy with many of the most famous fight shots from the history of the sport, the book is as good pictorially as for its words.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average boxing book! 16 Nov 2005
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, the text is engaging and original (with an interesting look at some pioneering early black fighters), the pictures are fantastic and the design and layout is excellent. Boxing exists as a sport, as a series of human stories, and as a wider history of the times that shaped it - and this book delivers on every level. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative 12 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great insight, love the old time boxers, puts today premadonnas to shame, the ammount they boxed.
Well worth it for any fan.
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