Top positive review
Insightful look at an Exciting Boxer!
on 27 June 2011
I can remember watching one boxer in particular growing up in the 1980s who always guaranteed drama and excitement every time he fought, that boxer was Thomas `The Hit Man' Hearns. Firmly in the `hit or be hit' category Hearns always figured in thrilling edge of your seat contests where the outcome was never certain. His fights with Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran have sealed his credentials as a boxing superstar. His eight world titles at six different weights have ensured he is considered an all time great of the sport. No one has tackled the life of this legendary boxer until now...
Brian Hughes is a respected trainer of champions and has served British boxing loyally for forty five years. He has already written many sports biographies on footballers as well as boxers and is amply qualified to tell the Thomas Hearns story. His son, sports psychologist, Damian is also an accomplished writer in his right. So with this undoubted pedigree, does their book deliver on its promise?
Well, my answer after completing its 234 pages is an emphatic yes! I was so relieved that I enjoyed this book and both Hughes' did justice to one of my heroes from the eighties. Hughes Sr actually witnessed first hand Hearns' training at the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit. It was here in this tough, no-nonsense environment that master technician and boxing coach Emmanuel Steward helped to hone the skills of a slew of talented young boxers from deprived backgrounds and turned them into world class operators, including his most famous protégé, Thomas Hearns.
Like the man himself this book is a down to earth straightforward account of one of boxing's most celebrated and loved sons. In lesser hands it could easily have descended into hyperbole, but the Hughes' have produced a balanced, well researched and accurate account of an extraordinary and exemplary career.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning how the tall, skinny amateur who won most of his contests on points was developed and nurtured into one of the most destructive and concussive punchers of the modern era. Hearns' power is chillingly evoked here; the reader gets a true sense of the menace and power that Hearns brought with him into the ring. A fierce competitor inside the ropes he was (and still is) a quick-witted, charming and almost shy man outside them. Hughes Sr and Jr manage to bring out Hearn's personality onto the page.
The book is full of insight from those that knew Hearns, among them are: Emmanuel Steward, Jackie Kallen, Bob Arum, his stable mates at the Kronk gym as well as old ring adversaries. Although as a biography relying mainly on research, archives and personal recollections without interviews from the man himself this is no warts and all account. Don't go reading this expecting to get too close to the enigmatic multi weight champion. Rather this explores what made him such a fantastic fighter and how he generated such excitement whenever and wherever he performed.
The first contest with Leonard (for example) was a huge event and this is very well conveyed as is the enormity and sheer drama of the Hagler fight. Younger readers will appreciate just how much these fights meant and their place in boxing history and folklore. Older readers will bask in some wonderful memories of some momentous and special boxing nights.
A boxer like Hearns deserves remembering and in Brian and Damian Hughes' he has worthy and knowledgeable chroniclers providing readers with a meticulous and entertaining look at a sparkling career. I recommend this book to all serious Hearns fans, compulsive reading.