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A master-class for newcomers, a treat for aficionados...
on 15 May 2014
If the name Springs Toledo registers then you probably clicked "add to basket" with a grin. For those unacquainted, it's OK to get your hopes up a little.
In The Gods of War: Boxing Essays, Toledo gets his "meaty paws" on a timeless subject and, much like how the great Mickey Walker "steadily de-clawed" a wild cat in Ace Hudkins, the author carefully removes those unwanted clichés and recycled stories from his prose that routinely bruise capable writers.
These essays are for everybody, but it's reassuring to know that a seasoned voice is behind the rich text. True boxing writers must have a taste for archaeology. It's as much about being ingloriously hunched over in your search for microfilm as it is about supping caffeine to help get that first paragraph off the ground. Toledo informs as he entertains. Two of the well-reasoned arguments that stood out for me - Sonny Liston as an all-time heavyweight terror, and the myth of Sugar Ray Leonard's slugging tactics against Roberto Duran in Montreal.
Preceding the Liston chronicles and a dazzling top ten countdown of the greatest (post 1920) scrappers of all-time are a motley of little gems. Perhaps `Black July' was my favourite in which Toledo cleverly plaits his story while touching upon those universal truths that, if only for a resin-coated moment, bind the reader to the fighter.