“Counterpunch: Ali, Tyson, the Brown Bomber and Other Stories of the Boxing Ring” by Ira Berkow
Boxing, history, columns, collection
May 1, 2014
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Covering more than seven decades, this collection of columns from the New York Times by Ira Berkow tells readers about many of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing. Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier and Evander Holyfield are just a few of the many boxers who were the subject of this prize-winning author’s stories.
A nice touch to this book is that Berkow not only writes about the champions, but also some other boxers whose names will not be familiar to the casual fan, such as Charlie Nash and Marcel Cerdan. No matter whom the boxer is, each column is written in a manner that when the reader finishes it, he or she will stop and pause to think about that boxer. Whether the story was about a particular fight, the journey of how he reached where he did in the sport, or a reflection on the life of a recently deceased fighter, Berkow’s writing does justice to each man he portrays.
While reading each column, I was impressed with the knowledge that Berkow had not only for the fighters but how he was able to capture the emotion of the fighter featured. One very poignant column was about Du Koo Kim, the fighter who died from injuries suffered in a fight with Ray Mancini in 1982. That was during the time many boxing matches were still featured on over-the-air television networks and was considered a fight that was too brutal to be shown on TV. It was a controversial fight, but this story ignored that aspect and focused on the type of man Kim was and how he lived his life. Stories like Kim’s made this book a fascinating and enjoyable read for me.
If there is anything that can be considered a negative, it would be that a reader may want to learn more about the fighters. It has to be remembered that most of these columns were written during the heyday of newspapers and this medium was the way to learn this information. Space was at a premium and Berkow used every word to paint a wonderful picture of the fight or the people participating.
This book should be read by any boxing fan from any era. A great collection of anecdotes about the sport of boxing, Ira Berkow shows why he was a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
It reads quickly as each story is no longer than two to three pages. Remembering that this is a collection of newspaper columns, each chapter should take no longer than a few minutes to read.
Do I recommend?
Boxing fans and those who like to read about boxing history will enjoy this book. The variety of stories, fighters and eras that are mentioned in this book will ensure that there is something for everyone.
Book Format Read: