Boxing has produced thousands of books in a century and a half, ranging from technique books, to nutritional, to reference, to literature. The latter is the hardest to come by.
Beginning with Pierce Egan in the mid-nineteenth century, boxing’s chroniclers have turned an artistic eye on what was otherwise known as “the grim trade.” Some of the best sports writing spanning back over the last century centered on the sweet science and its many characters. Why? In part because, as Max Kellerman once told me, people are naturally drawn to fights. It’s instinctive. Kellerman made the “four corners” analogy long before Dana White did — if there’s a basketball game on one corner, a football game on another, baseball on the third, and a fight on the fourth, what are people watching?
The fight. Every time. There’s something about conflict being resolved literally (fists) rather than through the use of metaphors (a ball).
Writers have realized this for a long time, and it’s why boxing has produced so many great articles and books over the years. It’s a game of countless mental and physical layers; it’s not a game at all. Start with those perceptive differences, and many boxing works stray into philosophy as much as they do the reporter’s transference of basic facts. The best of these make the two intertwine (books like Norman Mailer’s “The Fight,” A.J. Liebling’s “The Sweet Science,” Mark Kram’s “The Ghosts of Manila,” to name a few).