Boxing trainer Angelo Dundee is on my list of people I would love to sit in a pub with so I could just listen to him talk and tallk and talk. He always seemed like one of those guys who can tell a story, and then another story, and then another story each one better than the last until the bell rings for last call and you get up off your bar stool and make your way home. And that is the feeling I got reading Dundee's "My View from the Corner: A Life in Boxing."
This is or has the feel of an `as told to' book with famed boxing writer (and great story teller in his own right) Bert Randolph Sugar. We have Angelo Dundee talking to Bert Sugar about boxing, the universe, and everything and the result is a book that makes you feel as is you really were sitting next to Dundee and Sugar in your local bar.
The book is roughly divided into three parts. In the first, we hear about Dundee's youth and introduction (through his older brother Chris) into the world of boxing and his early stable of fighters, most notably light heavyweight Willie Pastrano. The second and biggest part takes us through Dundee's years with Muhammad Ali, from his days as Cassius Clay, through his last days as a fighter. The third and final part covers Dundee's post-Ali years with Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman (during his second stint as the lovable, heavy, old timer).
Dundee's style is conversational and reads more like the transcript of his conversations with Sugar than it does a conventional piece of writing and I think this works perfectly. It isn't pretentious or smug; it is just Dundee being Dundee and that's pretty darn good.
Dundee's discussion of his relationship with his fighters, particularly Ali, is the heart of "My View from the Corner". I don't think any reader will be disappointed. Dundee was extraordinarily loyal to the fighters under his care and it shows. However, he doesn't shy away from discussing the flaws of those same fighters, including Pastrano, Ali, and Leonard. He is one of life's realists who knows that even our sporting heroes can have feet of clay so when he talks about some of those flaws it doesn't come across as bitter or angry. It simply comes across as a glimpse of a real human being.
Dundee, as you would expect, also gives a great account of his view of some of the great fights of the last 50 years including the two Ali-Liston fights, Ali-Frazier I and III, Ali-Foreman, and the two Duran-Leonard bouts amongst others. His story of Ali's knockdown by Henry Cooper in London in their first fight and the miracle of the slit glove that gave Ali two minutes of rest is compelling. For me, Dundee brings a view of his fighters' famous and not so famous bouts that I just never would have seen as just a fan even those I've watched time and time again.
I think any boxing fan, even readers with just a passing interest in the sport, will love this book.