“Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing: A Photographic History” by Mike Silver
March 4, 2016
4 of 5 stars (very good)
The Golden Age of Boxing, which ran roughly from the 1890’s to the 1950’s, produced many memorable fights and boxers. It was a time when boxing was the most popular sport in America, even more popular than baseball or horse racing. Jewish boxers were very prominent during that period, and their stories are captured in this book by boxing historian Mike Silver.
The book is an excellent source of information for readers who are not familiar with that era in the sport’s history. There are passages that speak of nearly every part of the sport during that time, such as the popularity, the media coverage, the venues and the rules. Of the latter, there is an excellent section on how the current Marquess of Queensbury rules came to be the standard rules governing the sport. It was also interesting to learn facts about the sport such as how breaks in the sport were demanded to break up the fights into the rounds as we know them now and how there used to be an unlimited number of rounds – just keep fighting until a winner is declared. It would be hard to imagine some of the rules being able to exist in today’s version of the sport.
Each boxer discussed by Silver in the book has Jewish heritage, even if he may not have been practicing the religion. Records for each boxer are included and some of them have very extensive histories. Greats such as Benny Leonard and Ted “Kid” Lewis are well documented, but what was truly impressive about the book is the extensive research that Silver did to be able to include at least a few paragraphs about more obscure Jewish fighters and their records.
Of course, there are plenty of pictures of the boxers to go along with their stories and these combined with the good writing and exhaustive research make this a pleasurable book for boxing fans to read. It is one that is recommended to add to one’s boxing book library.
I wish to thank Lyons Press for providing a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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