Book Review: Bundini Don’t Believe The Hype
By Chris Akers
Unsurprisingly, the main focus in most sports is on the athletes. They are the ones who generate the headlines, entertain us with their skill, and make us act out a range of emotions as they engage in contests against other athletes in their field.
While this is true of boxing, its focus is as much on those involved in the periphery of the sport than those who engage in bloody contact in the ring.
Writers, promoters, trainers, photographers, and even referees can be just as well known as the boxers themselves. Their presence adds to the rich historical tapestry of the squared ring. Their contribution in a lot of cases can be vital to a boxer’s career.
This is the case with Bundini Brown. A cornerman to the great Sugar Ray Robinson and most famously, Muhammad Ali,
Bundini’s presence in both their careers galvanised them when in trouble during fights. As George Foreman is quoted as saying.
‘Bundini was the source of Muhammad Ali’s spirit.’
These words are on the cover of Bundini: Don’t Believe The Hype (Hamilcar Publications), the biography of Bundini Brown by Todd Snyder.
Words were his weapon of choice when navigating life and Bundini used these to smart effect when trying to rouse fighters to give a little more. While to most people Bundini’s name is linked with his association with Ali, there is much more to his life than just as a motivator for Ali. This biography does an excellent job of uncovering what else made Bundini the person he was.
Each significant moment in Bundini’s life is articulated with the depth that it requires. Throughout the book, these moments are described by Bundini’s son, Drew Brown III.
This gives an interesting perspective to Bundini’s life, as it shows how his father’s moments in the corner of major fights affected his home life and the impact these moments had on Drew Brown III later in life.
It discusses his tough upbringing in Sanford, Florida, through to joining the United States Navy, to marrying a white Jewish woman at a time when interracial marriage was considered taboo (and in some states illegal), to his time with Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali. He even starred in prominent Hollywood films such as Shaft and The Colour Purple.
The appreciation within boxing circles of Bundini Brown and his influences in other aspects of the entertainment, specifically as a prototype for the hype men that came through in hip hop, should not be underestimated.
Snyder does an excellent job of capturing Bundini’s rich and eventful life. A fascinating read not just for boxing fans, but for those who are interested in people who can succeed despite the tough upbringing and times that they have come through.