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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering a hero, 20 May 2006
By 
S. Dunn - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Big If: The Life and Death of Johnny Owen (Hardcover)
This book is a fitting tribute to a great and brave man who died pursuing his passion. Johnny will always be remembered by the Welsh people as well as so many others, especially those who share his love of boxing. Such a sad story, this not only reports the fight and it's immediate aftermath, but gives an insight into the dignity of his family and the respect that gave way to a statue of John in his home town of Merthyr. The unveiling saw the visit of his final foe, Lupe Pintor, who conducted himself with great dignity throughout. A fitting tribute to a remarkable, brave young man who will never be forgotten.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy tribute to a brave man, 14 Jun 2006
By 
Mark Antony (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Big If: The Life and Death of Johnny Owen (Hardcover)
This book tells the life story of Johhny Owen, from Merthyr in South Wales, who became British and European Bantam weight Boxing champion, only to lose his life whilst in pursuit of the world championship title against Mexican Lupe Pintor in Los Angeles.

This is really two biogrophies, as the book relates the story of the rise to the top of their profession of Owen, and Pintor, and the people who influenced both of them, as well as an exploration of suprising links between South Wales and Mexico City, as the two men became drawn towards a night in September 1980, a night of high intensity, with it's cataclysmic aftermath.

Each round of the dramatic Los Angeles title fight is explored in detail, in between relating both men's story, charting the rise from working class backgorunds to the world championship Boxing arena. It is a story of hard work, dedication, but moreover, one of courage and love, because Johnny Owen was a very much human being, and his giant shadow still presides over Merthyr to this day, as well as over his adversary Lupe Pintor, who in 2002 unveiled a statue of Owen in Merthyr.

A film script has been written previously on this story, and it would be wonderful to see that project come to fruition in the future.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What boxing is about., 5 Dec 2006
By 
This review is from: The Big If: The Life and Death of Johnny Owen (Hardcover)
It has often been said that boxing is a sport "controversial and questionable, but surely fascinating". I couldn't think of a better way to expose and describe to anyone who is not directly involved in it (and some who are..) the best and the worst of this devilish discipline than this wonderful, compelling book, full of genuine and honest insights into the demands of boxing and the reasons why these remarkable characters choose to prove themselves in this ultimate test of physical strength, technique and sheer will-power. I had never heard of Johnny Owen before and knew nothing of this story. For whatever reason, I was just magnetized by the book as soon as I found it in the bookshop. Now that I have read it, it often happens that if I am out early in the morning, I find myself thinking about that nicest of men, out for his daily run - regardless of the weather - with a content smile on his face. I am sure Johnny would like to be remembered like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book- the tragic story of a Welsh boxing hero, 21 Mar 2008
This is one of the best books I have even read, probably the single best book about sport I have ever read. High praise indeed. Please note that this does not contain spoilers- the outcoming of the fight is common knowledge, and the reason for the book.

This is the life story of two men- Welsh Boxer Johnny Owen, and Mexican Boxer Lupe Pintor. It is also the story of their 12 round fight in Los Angles that lead to the tragic death of Owen. The narrative is very well written. It looks at the lives of the two men, roughly a chapter each at a time. In between chapters is a round by round account of the fatal bout. As such we see Johnny's childhood, poor but loved, followed by Pintor's childhood, horribly poor, and abused and beaten. The book considers the early careers of both men in turn, amateur days, turning pro, and winning titles. Both Owen and Pintor fought in some classic championship bouts before they met- Owen being European and British Champion, Pintor a World Champion. We also hear of thier lives and (in Pintors case) loves. All the time we are following the fight, too, with round by round accounts.

The most moving- indeed heartbreaking- part of the book is the events after the fight, leading to Johnny passing away. This does not conclude the book, however- they move forward about 25 years to the early 21st century. In a move that critics of boxing will never understand, Pintor comes over to Wales, as part of a moving TV documentary. The book concludes with the death of Owen's trainer- his father, Dick Owens, who passed away shortly after the TV series was made.

This book is a very through and detailed account, of a sad story in whch there were no villains. If I have to make one minor criticism, it would be that there is no criticism of anyone, except Dai Gardner, Owen's other cornerman who fell out with the Owens family. I realise that it is petty to attempt to cast blame, but never the less, incidents are hinted at that suggest that Owen shouldn't have been boxing at all. If you are reading this expecting a discourse on why boxing should be banned, you might be disappointed.

A final point. I was slightly confused when reading this regarding names. The family name is Owens, with an "s". When he turned pro, John Owens took the "ring" name Johnny Owen. I also would have found a bit more factual information useful, such as a list of Owen's fights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No If's buy this book, 26 Oct 2007
Without doubt the most moving boxing book I've ever read. when you read this book if you don't get a lump in your throat please check your pulse!

Brilliant research by the author which takes you through the boxing life of a great man. Broadbent though leaves it to the people who knew Johnny Owen best to tell their and his story then fantasticly charts the parallel life of Lupe Pintor until they finally met on that fateful night in September 1980. It doesn't end there though, it continues to tell how those most effected coped with the aftermath, until the unveiling of Johnny's statue. For me Broadbent's master stroke was the final few pages of this wonderful book, it would be easy for the author to put his two penny worth in but he leaves the final word to the man who knew Johnny best, his father, writing shortly before he passed away many years after his son's death, talks in a moving way about his son and boxing. This is a brilliant book worth reading if like me you are an avid boxing fan or care little for the sport.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book.A Moving Tribute To An Inspirational Man, 6 Oct 2008
By 
P. Gleave (Chester.UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was 10 when Johnny fought for the World title and can remember the story of the fight and it`s sad conclusion being in the news at the time.
This book tells Johnny`s story beautifully and also that of his opponent that night,Lupe Pintor.
It`s a book that is hard to put down,yet,as i neared the end of it i dreaded turning the page,knowing the tragic outcome.
Also,check out the BBC documentary about Johnny,The Long Journey,on youtube,also very moving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best boxing book ever, 4 May 2007
This is a great concept for a sports biography - taking two stories and interweaving them until they become one in the climactic ending. It is poignant and very moving, with the details on Pintor's life after boxing giving it an extra dimension. Brilliant stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely hard to put it down, 26 Mar 2010
By 
Andy G (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This isn't just one of the best books on boxing I've ever read, or one of the best biographies, or one of the best sporting books. Quite simply it is one of the best books I have ever read. It is genuinely hard to put it down once you start reading it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Buy, 4 May 2014
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Bought this book some time ago for a future read. I was not disappointed with it. I grew up in the same area, people had no money and took no prisoners. After I read the book I felt quite sad, as the book mentioned people and places I knew when I was growing up. I was not disappointed with the book any way.
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The Big If: The Life and Death of Johnny Owen
The Big If: The Life and Death of Johnny Owen by Rick Broadbent (Hardcover - 19 May 2006)
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