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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 15 January 2006
Rarely has a book captivated me as much as this one.....from the menace and destructive power of tyson to the speed and grace of roy jones.
Donald Mcrae's journey across the world to seek out the very best boxers of the time is fascinating from start to finish. At times funny at times heartbreaking this book is a must for boxing fans.
Utterly compeling as he enters the mind of the boxer to try and understand why they have chosen the fight game as there path in life.
Im only sad that ive finished it.
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on 26 January 2000
Donald McRae brings his personal insights from many hundreds of hours spent in the company of professional fighters to the page in a remarkable book.
Not only does he look at the big stars in boxing, but also the smaller names who do so much to ensure the survival of this sport.
The insights here are fascinating, revealing to the reader the motivations of the professional fighter in a refreshingly objective text.
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on 17 February 2003
This is a superb book. Through brief glimpses into the worlds of various top boxers you can create a picture of the modern condition of professional boxing. It is written like a memoir, a journal or a diary, following the author from his first meeting with Mike Tyson, traveling to various places around the world, interviewing the likes of Roy Jones, Oscar de la Hoya, Chris Eubank to name a few, and then coming full circle to meet Mike Tyson again before he fought Evander Holyfield. It gives insight into the psychology of a fighter, and the politics of all those controlling him, and even glimpses of the personal lives, introducing wives, girlfriends, children. Any fan of boxing would find this book a pleasure to read, I have loaned my copy to six people, all of whom enjoyed it, and surprisingly not all were boxing fans. It is written by a fan for a fan, and the author treats each of the legends with the same respect, awe and compassion that they all deserve. I simply cannot recommend this book any more than to say it is a must read for anyone. This is a total all-rounder. **********, ten out of ten.
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on 26 August 2015
Despite not being a huge boxing fan, this is unquestionably one of the best sports books that I have ever read. In fact, after Friday Night Lights, which I could frankly reread over and over, this is probably the second best sports book that I've read. McRae takes you from his South African beginnings, dealing with issues of race during the apartheid era, all the way to Ireland, England and the USA. His close involvement with some of the biggest boxers of the 90s, in particular James Toney, makes this fascinating in a way that many ghost-written autobiographies do not.

Some have commented that this books seems fragmented, and to an extent that is true; the author writes chronologically and jumps between different boxers, different countries and continents, but he returns to the same fighters again, whether in periods of triumph or turmoil. The hard-edged prose gives a poetic beauty to an uncompromising, maligned and often savage sport. The way that tragedies are dealt with is also important. If you like boxing then you definitely need to read this, but sports fans in general should read this so gain an insight into what goes on behind the scenes and for an exciting overview of (perhaps) boxing's last great/mainstream era.
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on 26 July 2010
McRae manages to beautifully convey the complexities that surround the fight game. The warmth and compassion that many many fighters display, combined with the petrifying ferocity - and the even more petrifying origins of that aggression - that sustains them. He gives us depressingly predictable insight into the dark heart of boxing, the murkiness and duplicitousness of promoters and the abuse of fighters who deserve better, and even the terrific dangers that fighters subject themselves to. What I especially liked about it was McRae's humility and sensitivity throughout, he never takes his access to the fighters for granted, and gets across his trepidation when confronted with these volatile men. Absolutely great.
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on 23 July 2009
I'm fussy. I can't finish most books. I get bored, irritated by bad writing, or just tired by the same cliches. I have reread this book 3 times over 5 years. It differs, as it shows boxing in two lights, the barbaric brutality than claims lives, along with the incredible skill it demands.

It's fascinating because it's one man's journey through boxing. He meets the fighters and gets more out of them than you'd ever expect. The fear, the joy and the brutality of the boxing ring. Buy it.
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on 5 June 2013
I loved this book. You gain a real insight into the minds of the fighters and the way that the book is written is witty, articulate and incisive. The fighters that McRae mainly writes about are Mike Tyson, James Toney, Roy Jones, Naseem Hamed and a few others too. The book rekindled memories of some of the great fighters of the 90s and really got me thinking about the fight game, how one minute a fighter could be on top of the world, the next, lying in a coma fighting for their lives. If you're a boxing fan you'll love this book and won't want to put it down. An excellent read.
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on 3 May 2016
One of the best-ever books about sport - gripping for any boxing fan, any sports fan, or indeed anyone with no interest in sport. Particularly interesting if you remember watching Tyson, Benn, Eubank, Roy Jones, Hamed etc.
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on 12 March 2010
As the title mentions, anything under 5 this book does not deserve. A well written experience of a man who has come across many a big name in the fight game, he captures James Toney in outstanding fashion, the aura he builds in the dressing room and a fighters entrance is second to none. He explains the back and forth feud between Kallen and Toney, how a young fatherless james toney would become champ, his shortcomings and failures. He also discusses his interviews with Tyson whilst he was imprisoned and brings a different Tyson to surface, his disgrace at Eubank, and a young and enthusiastic Naseem before he was the prince.
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on 25 July 2009
An interesting read - dipping (rather than delving into the lives of some of the big boxing names of the 80s/90s - thought provoking but sketchy and fragmentary (just as you think the author is getting somewhere and we are learning something unique he changes subject - the Oscar De La Hoya section is so minimal that it is unfortunate that the publishers make such a big play of his name on the blurb).

The main memories from reading the book are about the author's girlfirend and their social life rather than the boxers. Agree with the 'Could have been a Contender Review' that the Eubank impression by the girlfriend left a lingering impression (strange that!)though feel four stars is more worthy than three as there were some genuine insights into the dangerous world of boxing and I enjoyed the author's company on his journey.

An interesting read but better insights into the world of boxing exist elsewhere (try Budd Schuleberg. Paul Gallico. AJ Siebling - orthe Come Out Writing selection of writings which is truly superb and insightful)
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