“Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing” by Carlos Acevedo
Boxing, professional, history, essays
March 31, 2020
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Anyone who follows the sport of boxing knows that for every success story, there are many others that have a darker side. Even for those fighters that have enjoyed tremendous success during their careers, many of them had other tales of woe. These can range from financial problems, drug abuse, crime, even an untimely death. This book by boxing writer Carlos Acevedo tells some of these stories on many different boxers from different weight classes and eras.
The variety of the stories and the boxers portrayed is the biggest strength of this book. Not only are legendary fighters portrayed such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, but there are some very interesting tales about other fighters who may not be as familiar to readers such as Ad Wolgast, Carmelo Negron and Eddie Machen. There are several sad stories on fighters whose career either ended too soon after a defeat (Davey Moore), fighters who seemed to always be on a path to destroying themselves (Tyson, Aaron Pryor, Tony Ayala Jr.) and even one who became known to even non-boxing fans, Jake LaMotta. While his story of sinking to very low depths and rising about them is familiar to movie goers who saw “Raging Bull”, Acevedo’s account of LaMotta does much more justice than the movie does in only a few pages.
That is pretty much the theme across the entire book as Acevedo writes essays about these pugilists that are complex yet very easy to read and comprehend. Some of his prose is pure bliss to read. Here are just a sample of some excellent quotes from the book:
- - When talking about the legendary third fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, the brutality of that match led Acevedo to state that “The ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ was a CliffNotes for sadism.”
- - He states that boxing “lends itself far too often to an intellectual clam chowder (common ingredients: social Darwinism, atavism, gladiatorial analogies, talk of warriors and so on)”
- - Describing promoter Don King when he dropped Davey Moore from his band of boxers: “Even Don King, a man who would rush into a burning oil tanker to rescue a crumpled dollar bill, cut him loose”
This is just a small sample of the excellent writing and research that was put into this great collection of stories on a wide selection of boxers. Any reader who has any interest in the “sweet science” will want to pick up this book – but be warned, once one starts, this is very hard to put down.
I wish to thank Hamlicar Publications for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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