At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing
Edited by George Kimball and John Schulian • Foreword by Colum McCann
“A knockout of a collection. Some of the finest boxing writing—or sports writing, period—I’ve ever encountered.”—Dennis Lehane
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American writers have always been fascinated by the ring—by the primal contest inside the ropes and the crazy carnival world outside them. From back-alley gyms and smoke-filled arenas to star-studded casinos and exotic locales, they have chronicled unforgettable stories about determination and dissipation, great champions and punch-drunk has-beens, colorful entourages and outrageous promoters, and, inevitably along the way, have written incisively about race, class, and spectacle in America. Like baseball, boxing has a vivid culture and language all its own, one that has proven irresistible to career sportswriters and literary essayists alike.
This gritty and glittering anthology gathers a century of the very best writing about the fights. Here are Jack London on the immortal Jack Johnson; H. L. Mencken and Irvin S. Cobb on Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier, the first “Fight of the Century” that captivated the world in the 1920s; Richard Wright on Joe Louis’s historic first-round knockout of Max Schmeling; A. J. Liebling’s brilliantly comic portrait of a manager who really identifies with his fighter; Jimmy Cannon on Archie Moore, the greatest fighter of the 1950s; James Baldwin and Gay Talese on Floyd Patterson’s epic tilt with Sonny Liston; George Plimpton on Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X; Norman Mailer on the Rumble in the Jungle; Mark Kram on the Thrilla in Manila; Pete Hamill on legendary trainer and manager Cus D’Amato; Mark Kriegel on Oscar De la Hoya; and David Remnick and Joyce Carol Oates on Mike Tyson. National Book Award–winning novelist Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin) offers a foreword.
George Kimball (1943–2011) was a longtime sportswriter (Boston Herald) and the author of Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing. John Schulian was a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Daily News before moving to Hollywood, where he was, among other things, the co-creator of Xena: Warrior Princess. He is the author of Writers’ Fighters and Other Sweet Scientists. Both Kimball and Schulian are recipients of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism, awarded by the Boxing Writers Association of America, and in addition to At the Fights, they co-edited The Fighter Still Remains: A Celebration of Boxing in Poetry and Song from Ali to Zevon.
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