Around the turn of the century, pugilist Joe Choynski was almost as famous as reigning heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries.
Choynski had earned his respect the old-fashioned way--by never shying away from a challenge.
Over the past sixty years, Choynski’s fistic exploits have faded.
But a new book written by Christopher J. LaForce restores some of the luster to Choynski’s name.
The Choynski Chronicles covers all aspects of the former fighter’s life and boxing career.
Written with obvious care, the mammoth biography (over 750 pages) uses numerous newspaper articles, “sometimes too many in this reviewers opinion” from Choynski’s career--plus original content from the author.
LaForce describes Choynski's matches against legends like Jeffries, James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons and Joe Walcott in detail, but it’s the writing on Choynski the man, that lifts the volume above the ordinary.
The book is also loaded with a copious collection of rare photographs.
Choynski was hardly a typical pug. He grew up in a well-to-do household in San Francisco, surrounded by writers and deep thinkers. He would ultimately use his natural intelligence inside the ring.
Weighing no more than 175 pounds soaking wet, Choynski regularly fought heavyweights who outweighed him by up to thirty pounds. His style was more boxer-puncher than the typical brawler of the day, but his punch carried a real kick.
In 1901, the 33-year-old Choynski traveled to Galveston, Texas to face future heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who was just beginning to make a name for himself.
Choynski knocked out Johnson in round three with either a perfect left, or a crushing right hand. Whatever the punch was, both boxers were arrested seconds after the fight ended by the Texas Rangers. Jailed for over three weeks, Choynski schooled Johnson on the art of defense.
It’s no coincidence that Johnson became one of the best defensive fighters in history.
Later in his life, Choynski became a trainer and boxing teacher.
The Choynski Chronicles is a fine book on a fascinating man and his times.
Choynski was a heroic boxer to many, displaying great courage as he battled some of the true legends of the fight game.
It’s a tribute to author LaForce that he manages to bring this once-powerful force in the ring back to life.