Book Review: Sporting Blood: Tales From The Dark Side Of Boxing
When a forward written by Thomas Hauser, one of the finest authors around today, ends by saying:
‘This is powerful writing.’ You have a very good idea what you are in for when start reading Sporting Blood, the excellent first book by Carlos Acevedo.
Acevedo is the founder of The Cruelest Sport and is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and his work can be found on numerous other publications and websites.
The author quite brilliantly and graphically explores the dark side of boxing with a series of articles featuring the likes of Jack Johnson, Roberto Duran, Aaron Pryor, Johnny Tapia and others.
As Hauser says: ‘Acevedo is the most original, perceptive, and best new writer in boxing.’
It is very hard to disagree with those words. When most of the world will be forced to spend a lot more time indoors over the coming months, the often forgotten art of reading could be making a comeback on a mass scale.
Those looking for new reading material are strongly advised to look in the direction of Acevedo’s excellent piece of work. The writing at times is on another level, well above the normal standard.
The chapter on the former world light-middleweight champion Davey Moore, was a particular highlight of mine if highlight is the appropriate word for a subject matter with such dark implications and often leaves us questioning our love for it.
The Moore section like virtually all of the essays in the book doesn’t end well, an all too familiar narrative in a sport where happy endings are hard to find.
Moore defended his world title against a fired-up Roberto Duran in 1983. The Panamanian was looking for redemption after ‘No Mas’ when his day in the sun appeared to be over.
Moore took a fearful, life-changing beating at the hands of Duran. It should have been stopped much sooner, and Acevedo highlighted perfectly what we witnessed:
‘Yet referee Ernesto Magana seemed spellbound by the butchery taking place before his eyes.’
When writing about the conclusion of the Aaron Pryor Alexis Arguello rematch, and the struggles both fighters had following the end to their savage rivalry, Acevedo wrote:
‘There would be no salvaging either man. For both Pryor and Arguello, the future would be an illusion.’
There are a plethora of further chapters in the book including the one on Joe Frazier, where Acevedo relays perfectly the amount of hate Frazier carried towards Muhammad Ali, which he took to his death.
With much of the world, never mind boxing, on lockdown, we can only look to the future or reminisce to get our lust for the sweet science satisfied. Sporting Blood satisfies on every level imaginable.
Sporting Blood: Tales From The Dark Side of Boxing is out now and is published by Hamilcar Publications.