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Sweet William: The Life of Billy Conn (Sport and Society) Paperback – 25 Nov 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (25 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252077458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252077456
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,529,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Before Roberto Clemente, Terry Bradshaw, or Mario Lemieux became household names, Billy Conn was Pittsburgh's most famous athlete. In Andrew O'Toole's Sweet William: The Life of Billy Conn, the East Liberty-born boxer's career is examined, and there's much to enjoy... The best parts of the book are the colorful backroom stories that seem to be intrinsic to boxing lore." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "An affectionate yet even-handed biography of the fighter known as 'The Pittsburgh Kid.' O'Toole makes a relatively normal life sing with his obvious passion for his subject [and] his meticulous research... A welcome addition to the boxing-literature canon." Kirkus Reviews "The rough-and-tumble sports world of the late 1930s and early 1940s emerges vividly... O'Toole masterfully re-creates both the life and the times. For all fans of boxing history." Booklist

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Billy Conn is one of those boxers whose career is forever defined by one fight, his knockout loss to Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world in 1941. Yet there is much more to Billy Conn than this fight, and he was the personality kid who lit up the light-heavyweight division before and during his championship reign, 1939-41. The book tells a great deal about Billy Conn's life in and out of the ring, and is a fascinating read throughout its 322 pages, enabling the reader to learn much about both Conn the fighter and Conn the human being. The only negative point is that the book does not include Conn's ring record, which as a shame.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Genuine Article 5 Jun. 2010
By Pugwash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I moved to Pittsburgh in 1988, and grew up a passionate fight fan after watching Muhammad Ali knock out Oscar Bonavena in his second comeback fight. Days after my move, I ventured to the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, found Billy Conn's home, and knocked on his door. He answered the door, erect in bearing and straight-forward in manner. I explained to him that i had read about his fight and career, and wanted to meet him and get his autograph. It was late afternoon, and he and his wife, a beautiful lady, were having appetizers and a drink.

I was treated to one of the most surprising and enjoyable couple hours of my life. he brought me down to his basement, where there was a gallery of pictures of eleven champions he had fought hanging on the wall. He told me stories of his fights with Melio Bettina and Teddy Yarosz. He gave me his opinions on Muhammud Ali and Mike Tyson, and of course, spoke of his life-defining fight with Joe Louis. He was disarming, strong, and unpretentious.

I shared a drink with him and his wife, who likewise, permeated a genuineness that filled their home. She told me to call their son, Tim, who became a friend who I would go to fights with.

This has little to do with this book, other than the subject.

This is the story of an American icon. An underdog, who captured the hearts of the American sporting public. Billy took the elevator almost to the top floor, but was grounded not by any quit or lack of heart, but by too much heart.

This book traces his ascent through the middleweight ranks and to the light heavyweight title. It paints a bullseye on the character and personality of Billy Conn, and what he meant to the people of Pittsburgh and sadly, a generation who pined for a White Hope.

It colors in his flaws and humanness as well.

Where it falls slightly short is in recounting his true raw greatness as a fighter, and his place in the history of the light-heavyweight division. There have been few who have battled so many champion and champion caliber fighters.

The war definitely stole some of his glory years away as a fighter, and given Billy's penchant for winning rematches, a second fight against Joe Louis, had it come off much sooner, may have gone far differently. But that is mere conjecture.

This is an immensely enjoyable biography about a worthy and relevant subject.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Sweet William; The Life of Billy Conn 7 Aug. 2008
By Ray J. Mccormack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My name is Ray McCormack, and I am a boxing historian. I have been following boxing for almost 50 years. This book is one of the most informative and objective books I have ever read about a boxer.

The book gives you a very accurate and exciting glimpse of the life of Billy Conn, and of the 1930's and 1940's in boxing and the USA.

I rarely recommend books about boxing. The reason being the books are usually full of mistakes and unsubstantiated rumors which soemhow become accepted as facts as the years go on. This book is 100% legitmate. I strongly recommend giving it a read
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Pittsburgh's Sweet William, Billy Conn 25 Feb. 2008
By spry old lady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written and easy reading...enjoying the local references...brings the fight scene during the 30's and 40's alive and vivid...lots of facts..anyone living in the Western PA area will appreciate the narrative
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