Sweet William: The Life of Billy Conn (Sport and Society) Paperback – 25 Nov 2010
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"The rough-and-tumble sports world of the late 1930s and early 1940s emerges vividly, as O'Toole describes the way mobsters infiltrated the fight game and how Conn needed the help of Pittsburgh Steeler owner Art Rooney to stay clear of the unsavory types. Conn, though not widely known today, was a beloved, blue-collar American hero in his era, and O'Toole masterfully re-creates both the life and the times. For all fans of boxing history."--Wes Lukowsky, "Booklist"
"In Sweet William, Andrew O'Toole takes you to the streets of Pittsburgh and New York prior to World War II. You can't help but feel the sweat, feel the struggle, and get caught up in the glamour. It's a superb piece of storytelling--and an important book about an important fighter from boxing's Golden Age."--Russell Sullivan, author of Rocky Marciano: The Rock of His Times
"Affectionate yet evenhanded biography of the fighter known as 'The Pittsburgh Kid.' O'Toole makes a relatively normal life sing with his obvious passion for his subject, his meticulous research and his ability to empathize with Conn, his family and the colorful characters who inhabited the boxer's literal and metaphorical corner. A welcome addition to the boxing-literature canon."--"Kirkus Reviews," October 15, 2007
In Sweet William, Andrew O'Toole takes you to the streets of Pittsburgh and New York prior to World War II. You can't help but feel the sweat, feel the struggle, and get caught up in the glamour. It's a superb piece of storytelling--and an important book about an important fighter from boxing's Golden Age. --Russell Sullivan, author of Rocky Marciano: The Rock of His Times"
About the Author
Andrew O'Toole is a freelance writer who is the author of several books, including Smiling Irish Eyes: Art Rooney and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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