Boxing Book Review: Billy Miske
Boxing Book Review: Billy Miske
By Antonio Santiago, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 5, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
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Billy Miske
By Antonio Santiago, Doghouse Boxing. One of the couple of books that I have recently finished reading has to do with a boxer whom I had previously known only as a footnote in boxing history, The St. Paul Thunderbolt, Billy Miske. Miske fought Jack Dempsey twice, but for most of us he was known only as the man beaten by Dempsey by a third round knockout for the world Heavyweight title in the 1920’s. Writer Clay Moyle, one of the best boxing writers in the world and a friend of mine, changes that perception with his new book, Billy Miske (2011, WIN BY KO Publications, ISBN-10 0979982243, ISBN-13 978-0979982248, www.winbykopublications.com, all rights reserved). Moyle’s work has so far concentrated on past boxers who were not champions, debuting with his exceptional book on Sam Langford. Hopefully he will follow this up with a book about Pedro Montanez, as I already asked him to. He is in the planning stages for a book about a former world champion whose name I shall not reveal so that nobody gets ahead of him.

Clay Moyle went the full distance in writing this book, leaving no detail lost as he brings the figure of Miske to life. He also brings the personality of Miske alive, demonstrating us Miske the human being afar from the ring, unlike some other writers who only mythologize the fighters with accounts of their fights. Here you read about Miske at home, or during Christmas, or during chats with his friend and manager Jack Reddy.

Billy Miske, the book, like the boxer after it was named, is an entertaining, never-bore-you type of work. At 203 pages, it is large enough for it to stand out from a bookshelf, but also skinny enough not to be too big. Yet the wealth of information contained in the book about the Heavyweight division during the Dempsey era, and about the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, during the same time, makes it have the same worth as ten pounds of gold.  Fighters like Fred Fulton, Bill Brennan, Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Jess Willard, Kid Norfolk, Gunboat Smith, Harry Greb and so many more are also discussed in this book.

The book is well detailed about specifics, such as the places and time in which boxers were born, how they came to fight Miske, the negotiations behind doors including the ill-fated Dempsey-Tommy Gibbons 15 rounder of Shelby, Montana, and many other anecdotes of the time. Moyle must be seriously considered by the Smithsonian Institution as it’s boxing historian or by current President and President to be until 2016, Barack Obama, as the United States’ official boxing historian, because he spares no detail to present this as a complete book, which he achieved by researching deeply about Miske.

A good number of photos accompanies Moyle’s literature, which helps in Moyle’s mission of introducing us to the Miske who was more than just the guy who lost to Dempsey. I for one had never seen photos of him and had no idea what Billy looked like, although, because of the poisonous “color-line” of the time, I was really assured he was White.

The book is presented in a wine-red cover, titling in white, with a black and white photo of Miske looking at the camera as if he was staring at the reader, which presents the work as what it is; an honest, straight look into a simple man of courage during simpler times.

I think Clay Moyle is one of the finest writers out there, and with this book, he does his subject justice. Miske would have loved it could he have read it.

And for $29.95, you will love it too, as will your pockets.

Please send all Questions and comments to Antonio at TJ69662094@aol.com.

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