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on 15 April 2017
loved it
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on 29 August 2007
No Ordinary Joe is the autobiography of Joe Calzaghe and takes his story up to April 2007 when he beat Peter Manfredo Jnr at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. At the time the book was written, Joe had been the WBO super-middleweight champion for 10 years making 20 successful defences, as well as gaining the IBF super-middleweight title in 2006 in a fight against Jeff Lacy described by the respected commentator Hugh Mcllvanney as "one of the greatest displays of superb technique, confidence and fighting intelligence a British boxer has delivered in a major contest." Despite his record, recognition had been slow coming to Joe before the Lacy fight. This is surprising, as he has a broad appeal capable of crossing over to a female fan base with the looks that led to the offer of an M & S modelling contract (which he declined) as well as being a devoted father and family man. The book is remarkably objective for an autobiography and Joe is able to come up with a number of reasons for his comparatively low profile: He came after the barnstorming Benn-Eubank-Collins years and boxing's move away from terrestrial television to Sky; he has been dogged by hand injuries; the fact that his talent scared off the biggest names; possibly it's the British inability to fully embrace winners but perhaps most of all in a celebrity driven age, Joe has never been interested in the fame game. You get a clear idea from the book as to how Joe has developed as an athlete. He very courageously discusses how he was very badly bullied at school despite being a schoolboy boxing champion. This ended a reasonably promising academic performance and it could be that this intelligence was diverted away from academia to the ring. He acknowledges tensions in the relationship with his father and trainer, Enzo who clearly recognised his son's prodigious talent at an early age. There could have been more analysis of Enzo as his story is, in many ways, just as remarkable as he had no previous experience of boxing training. Although Enzo could see the talent, Joe's career was set back by a number of people who did not know how to handle it. So astonishingly the Wales ABA did not put him forward for the Barcelona Olympics qualifiers and whilst managed by Mickey Duff he was not being brought on sufficiently quickly. There are also some great anecdotes such as Joe's mounting discomfiture when Enzo decides verbally to have a go at Tyson. The forward by Sugar Ray Leonard is a little odd as it seems far more about Sugar Ray Leonard than about Joe but that's a minor quibble. Overall it's a highly readable book from a great and modest champion.
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on 12 June 2007
Great book, well written giving valuable insight and taking you on the journey through Calzaghe's career. Any boxing fan should make this a must read. To overcome the problems with his hands and apparent bad management decisions at the start of his career yet end up as an undefeated champion (and the first super middleweight boxer to win the prized belt awarded by The Ring in the division's near 20-year history) tells you something about the man.
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on 26 October 2007
The best Autobiography of a sports-man I have read.

I read Freddie Flintoff and Michael Vaughan's autobiographies when I was on holiday last year and to be honest they both seemed like token efforts devoid of feeling and not offering much insight - Don't get me wrong, they were professionally written and I don't regret reading them but when I put them down I was left with the question - Well, what have I really learned about the person? Put crudely, there was no X-factor.

No Ordinary Joe is different. The book is ghostwritten but unless i'd read it on the inside pages I never would have known as some of the thoughts seem very personal and honest - Very rare today!(I'm 29 by the way not 79)

No Ordinary Joe is a refreshingly honest and often amusing (In an intentionally dry way) look at the life and career of Joe Calzaghe. The book covers the background and history of his family and the influence (In particular that of his Dad & uncles) they have had throughout his career as well as his preparations, the fights themselves and how he saw/sees his career progressing and what he intends to do after boxing.

Importantly (and probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed it) the book doesn't dodge the controversial issues and, in fact, meets all of them head on. I have followed Joe's career closely and can't think of any accusation etc. that wasn't addressed - Being called chicken for pulling out of specific fights, Enzo being briefly sacked as his trainer, The honesty about where his career was at the point of the Omar Sheika fight.

In fact, the book opens with a quote from his father/trainer Enzo "If you pull out of the Lacy fight, all that you'll be remembered for in the boxing world is for being a f*cking chicken, is that what you want?"

There are numerous other frank quotes like this and while some people might have been tempted to stay away from this type of thing, seeing it unecessary/too risky to address, this book doesn't. Articles criticizing Joe are plentiful (often quoted from newspapers columns) and believe me when I say they have not been amended or watered down in order to influence the reader to see him in a better light, you just get the article and then you have Joe's take on it, which to me seems to be largely genuine.

The book of course covers all of Joe's professional (And the significant amateur) fights and I enjoyed the insight into his state of mind pre-fight, how his fight preparations went, as well as how badly and how surprisingly long his injuries have affected him. I was also pleased to see his healthy sense of self awareness in admitting that he sometimes can't half be a pain in the ar*e and a moody so and so.

A damn good and insightful read and to make a bad (but accurate) pun, it pulls no punches.

Nick
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on 23 June 2015
I was fortunate enough to get to watch Calzaghe fight live, against Mikkel Kessler, in Cardiff Millenium Stadium. I followed him throughout his career and can honestly say he was the most amazing fighter. I believe that his record places him among the very best to have ever graced the sport. The ferocity in how he attacked Kessler and the grace about which he danced the ring, were truly a sight to behold. Joe’s autobiography is an outstanding read. Here we have a legend in his own words. The early years of his fighting career demonstrates how difficult a ladder he had to climb. His training regime was immense and the dedication his father showed him is a tale unto itself. Aside from the boxing and sport side of the book, it is a great story about the relationship between a loving father and a caring and obedient son. Enzo Calzaghe is as much to credit for Joe’s wonderful career, as the great fighter is himself. I found it really bizarre how Joe was overlooked by the national squad early on and denied the opportunity to represent at the Olympics. It also shocked me how meagre his wages were right up until the latter stages of his career. When you hear of the immense purses available in the sport today, you get the impression that boxing is very lucrative. Joe was world championship material and was still struggling to make ends meet and finance a humble mortgage. It was a shame for me, that the book ended where it did, as it doesn’t cover the final few years of his career, when he really hit the very top and started to get the true recognition he warranted. It would be nice if he one day adds a further few chapters to cover complete the story. Joe comes across as a humble man and his modest upbringing in South Wales and really basic training setup, make his rise to success even more outstanding. His book is an essential item for any boxing fan’s reading list and a lover of sports biographies or a lover of sport in general should give this read a go. Joe is the people’s champion and his book affirms this view. https://wezgbooks.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/no-ordinary-joe-by-joe-calzaghe/
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on 27 October 2007
This is without doubt one of the most entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable sports bio's i have read. Numerous stories during the book make you laugh, in particular the various spats between Joe and Enzo. Most notably when his dad parked 2 miles away from the weigh-in to avoid paying to park!!! Also, this book gives a great insight into Joe himself and honestly appraises his career and feelings prior to the big fights.
My favourite sports book of all time is Donald McCreas Dark Trade and i found 'No Ordinary Joe' is not far behind. Very well written and easy to read, so much so that i finished it in 2 days on holiday earlier this year.
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on 28 July 2007
I've just finished reading this book in about two evenings, which just goes to show what an easy read it is.

At 272 pages, split down into 12 'rounds', 'No Ordinary Joe' lets you into the mind and life of the man who is considered the best pound-for-pound British boxer for decades. From birth and settling in Wales, to his amateur days (crying whenever he lost), onto his professional debut and his unbeaten record, this book offers you the chance to walk alongside Joe Calzaghe.

The book reveals the full extent of the hand injury which kept him from fighting just a handful (excuse the pun) of times during his career. Through anecdotes such as these, you realise the true closeness that Joe shares with his trainer, father and closest friend Enzo.

The book does labour a lot over specific fights, but you can hardly blame Joe for writing about the events which have made him a comfortable living and as close to a household name as a laid back young man from Wales can be. Nonetheless, it's intriguing to read about his very specific methodology which he follows fight-after-fight. Not to mention the way his personal life - such as his divorce from his first wife - has had an effect on his training, but an effect which he has had to sweep aside in order to maintain his Champion status.

The book opens and closes with words from some of Joe's heroes, friends and adversaries, leaving no doubt in anybody's mind: this Welshman is No Ordinary Joe.
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on 21 June 2012
I've finished the book in three days and it is a great read from start to finish.
It doesn't dwell heavily on Calzaghe's early life but it does shed a lot of light on his early pro career leading us up to the Manfredo title fight in 2007.
Some of the anecdotes between him and his father Enzo are sometimes painful and at other times hilarious.
The start of chapter 11 is particularily funny.
The book doesn't hide away from the shadier side of boxing and reminds us all of the problems facing a sport with no one world governing body.
Calzaghe does sing his own praises a bit but at the end of the day he has a lot to be proud of.
Ten year reign as WBO Super Middleweight Champion is a fantastic achievement and he deserves to be recognised rightly as one of the greatest British boxers of all time.
Great read.
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on 27 January 2009
I got this book as a christmas present and i also do boxing and love the sport. Joe Calzaghe is extremely underated and has exceptional boxing skills. He may not have the biggest punch but for technical ability and hand speed he is just phenomenal and is one of the great middleweights of all time though i dont think he will get the recognition he deserves because he didnt fight hopkins and Jones when they were at their prime though people forget Calzaghe was past his prime also ! very humble guy. Stays true to his roots and tries not let fame get to his head. Some interesting stories and a good insight into the mans life. Reader friendly and worth a read if you are a fan of the man.
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on 29 August 2011
Not bad. Gives you an insight into Joe's career as it should. If you're a fan its worth reading but if not I don't know if I'd recommend it. I love the guy so an informative read for me.
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