|The First Black Boxing Champions - Essays on fighters from the 1800’s to the 1920’s
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 11, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: Released last May, The First Black Champions is
a meticulously researched and compelling look at fifteen of the most
famous and talented boxers of the turn of the century and after.
foreword by Al Bernstein, editors Coleen Aycock and Mark Scott do a
wonderful job of compiling each biographical chapter. The compilation of
fifteen biographical essays depicts the struggles of the African
American fighter inside the ring and out. The volume combines a piece of
boxing and American history with a copious collection of never before
seen photos, cartoons, descriptions and fight posters.
is the most famous name in the book. To white America at the time
Johnson, who won the heavyweight championship in 1908, created a stir in
white people with his talent in the ring and lack of respect out of it.
Mark Scott uses Johnson's own words to help the reader understand the
is wonderfully informative and unique chronicling the rise and
sometimes-tragic fall of the boxers. The book gives insight into the
advent of the “colored title” weaving it through the early decades.
Billy Calogero opens things with an excellent account of former slave Tom Molineaux’s
drive to be the first black American to win the heavyweight title.
Sadly, a theme is set in place, as Molineaux not only has to battle his
opponent Tom Cribb, but a malicious audience.
Peterson’s expertly tells the story of the great Peter Jackson who then
champion John L. Sullivan refused to fight. Peterson sheds some light
on Jackson’s short but extraordinary life.
Adcock’s fascinating account of legendary Joe Gans is a joy to read.
Adcock’s writing brings the old champion back to life from his roots in
Baltimore to his exploits in the ring.
information on the “Barbados Demon” Joe Walcott has always been a
challenge. Standing only five two and weighing one hundred and forty
five pounds, Walcott knocked out fighters who outweighed him by sixty
pounds. Mike Schmidt’s essay reveals the extent of Walcott’s talent and
provides details of his final years working at Madison Square Garden.
name Jack Blackburn will always be associated with Joe Louis. Joseph
Bourelly writes about the trials and tribulations of Blackburn’s life
before he met and began to train Louis. Long considered one of the best
fighters of his generation, Blackburn had his boxing career derailed by a
Moyle does an admirable job of telling the story of Sam Langford, as
does Alex Pierpali with his duel biography of archrivals Sam McVey and
book concludes with the tragic story of light heavyweight champion
Battling Ski. Peter Benson’s prose flows beautifully as he probes the
myths of Siki’s short life. Maligned often by the press and mocked by
fans and critics alike, Siki’s life is a sad affair of lies, deception
and ultimately murder. Benson’s essay is part social commentary,
biography, and mystery as he works to explain Siki’s mercurial
personality and solve his murder.
fighters examined, are George Godfrey (Tony Triem), George Dixon (Mike
Glenn), Bobby Dobbs (Kevin Smith), Dave Holly (Douglas Cavanaugh),
“Dixie Kid” Aaron Brown (Cathy Van Ingen) and Speedball Harden by Chris
First Black Boxing Champions is not only a book for boxing fans, but
for those curious of how things were one hundred years ago. The respect
these champions deserve is long in coming as is the recognition. This
collection of essays pays these men there due and provides the reader a
look at how America once treated its superior fighters.
This one is not to be missed.
For more information on this book please visit the website.
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