Ali vs. Frazier:
for the best books on boxing
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Meet the fighters: Jacqui Frazier-Lyde and Laila Ali
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In producing their radio documentaries on Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva) not only learned a lot about boxing, but about the body of writing the sport has inspired.
"One true mark of the largeness, the emotional complicated-ness of any endeavor, is the calibre of the literature that it generates," Nelson says. Adds Silva: "The best of the writing on boxing gives readers an elegant and intimate understanding of a sport that might otherwise seem only confoundingly brutal."
Here, a reading list compiled by Kitchen Sisters intern and boxing fanatic, Heidi Kriz:
King of the World: Muhammed Ali and the Rise of an American Hero, by David Remnick (Vintage Books, October 1999). "A stylish and astute portrait of the man who changed the face of boxing -- and the culture of heroes in America -- forever."
On Boxing, by Joyce Carol Oates (Bloomsbury Publishing, 1987). "Oates has become the de facto grande dame of boxing writing, as one of the few women of letters to write about the sport as an afficionado."
Reading the Fights: The Best Writing About the Most Controversial Sport; edited by Joyce Carol Oates and Daniel Halpern (Prentice Hall Press, 1988). "A solid and diverse collection of writing on boxing, ranging from professional sportswriters, to writers trying to sort out their complicated emotions about what George Foreman called 'the sport to which all other sports aspire.'"
The Fight, by Norman Mailer (Vintage Books, reprint edition 1997).
"Mailer's rendition of the 'Rumble in the Jungle,' the epic re-match between George Foreman and Muhammed Ali in 1975. Mailer chronicles the crazy cast of characters and events that swirled around the match, which took place in Kinshasa, Zaire, at the behest of Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who offered both fighters $5 million dollars for the fight."
The Sweet Science, by A.J. Liebling (Penguin Books, reprint edition 1982).
"If the above books could be considered the New Testament on boxing, then this book qualifies as the Old Testament. Liebling, an early New Yorker writer whose other enthusiams included gourmet food , wine, and Paris, wrote an exquisite tribute to the early days of boxing and the stoutheartedness of the men who participated in it."
The Boxer's Heart: How I Fell In Love with the Ring, by Kate Sekules (Villard Books, September 2000). "Bloodied and bruised but elated, one woman offers an elegant account of her love affair with boxing."
The 12 Greatest Rounds of Boxing: The Untold Story, by Ferdie Pacheco MD, Mills Lane, and Jim Moskorvitz (Total/Sports Illustrated, October 2000),
"Pacheco, the famed 'Fight Doctor' who manned Muhammad Ali's corner for 15 years, offers the following criteria for picking an even dozen of boxing's greatest rounds: To be included, each must have exhibited some impact beyond boxing, had a significant effect on the sport's rules or a fighter's career, or life or death must have hung in the balance. "
Muhammad Ali: A View from the Corner, by Ferdie Pacheco MD (Birch
Lane Press, 1992). "An intensely personal memoir by the man who was the champ's personal doctor for most of Ali's long career."