May 18, 2014
With “Death in the Ring”, the stale air of the past becomes invigorating and refreshing. Clark has a unique slant when writing about his subjects–he becomes them! The legendary John L. Sullivan, the colorful Jack Johnson, the artistic Mickey “The Toy Bulldog” Walker, the inscrutable Sonny Liston, and many more boxing greats, all are alive again–and they speak to us–sharing their intimate feelings and secret thoughts through Clark’s creative pen. It’s a dangerous literary game of “faction” that Clark plays, but he plays it well and we buy into Clark’s portrayals, speculations, and flights of fancy because, Clark is a boxing historian and grounds his subjects in fact. These stories are wonderful!
April 26, 2015
This book can be considered a book on the history of boxing as there are stories about many great fighters covering all eras of the sport, from John L. Sullivan to Oscar de la Hoya. However, to call this is a history book does it a great injustice because the writing style is very unique.
Author George Clark Thomas takes the fighters he writes about and tells stories from their point of view. It may be about some of their fights, it may be about their families or it may be about life after the ring. The title may be a bit misleading, as the stories are not necessarily about “death.” The fighters don’t die in the ring but do have some reflections on their lives and it may be from the grave. For example, one story is titled “Jerry Quarry from Boxers’ Heaven” (this was my personal favorite in the book) and tells about both Jerry and Mike Quarry and their struggles in and out of the ring.
Another aspect of the book I liked is that the stories were not all boxing legends easily recognizable by all fans. Stories about Tiger Flowers, Harry Greb and Oscar Bonavena are told as well as some about Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey and Muhammad Ali. One very humorous fictional bout pits Nelson Mandela against Barack Obama that had me in stitches even at Thomas tried to put them in a serious fight.
Most fans love to compare fighters of different eras and wonder what would have happened if they could fight. Would Joe Louis vs. Joe Frazier be a good fight? Could Jack Dempsey have defeated Muhammad Ali? There are plenty of scenarios like these that play out in the fighter’s mind. Of course, whoever is telling the story will win that fight.
This was a terrific read that I enjoyed from first page to last. A very unique spin on the history of the sweet science, it is a book that I believe anyone who enjoys reading boxing books will want to add to their library.
I wish to thank Mr. Thomas for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Pace of the book:
I always believe that collections of stories or anthologies are quick reads as the reader can choose to read as many as he or she likes in one sitting and then can quickly pick it back up without losing anything in a story.
Do I recommend?
Yes – all boxing fans should enjoy this entertaining collection of stories. This is especially true for those who wonder who would win matches between great fighters in different eras.
May 27, 2014
George Thomas Clark has done it again. He put together a book that is hard to put down. AND it’s ALL about boxing from the beginning to what it is today.
Like GTC said, “The greatest enemy of the boxer is not his opponent, but the sport itself.” He brings back memories and tidbits of the boxers that once ruled the sport, from John L. Sullivan to Somkin’Joe, George Forman and yes, Cassius Clay, ahh, I mean Muhammad Ali.
GTC does his best to put you at the scene during AND after their Boxing Career. Putting together the boxer’s story was masterfully done by the author and how he did it is unique.
We find out through GTC that most boxers had problems, of course, after they hung up their gloves, thus the title of the book – ‘Death in the Ring.’
I’m GLAD George Thomas Clark sent me this book knowing that I probably would Enjoy reading it. AND I DID. Thanks George.
May 18, 2014
This is the third book of Clark’s that I have read and I wasn’t disappointed. The book is more than a history of boxing. Clark’s book explores the depths of human misery, human nature and boxing. George Thomas seems drawn to the fringes of humanity and his treatment of that fringe society makes the fragility of the human experience come alive. In this case, the treatment is of boxers and those in that world. The treatment evinces a knowledge of the human experience that makes the reader wonder how Clark can so wonderously explore the psyche of the subjects he writes about. I will have to dust off the other Clark books that I have and give them another look. I am psyched to revisit this storytellers magic.