BOOK REVIEW: A FISTFUL OF MURDER: THE FIGHTS AND CRIMES OF CARLOS MONZON
By Chris Akers
In light of the recent passing of one of Argentina’s most revered figures Diego Maradona, it seems quite fitting that there is a recently released book about another celebrated Argentine, who shared some of the same traits as Maradona.
A fighter who, like Maradona, was raised in poverty yet rose to become one of the most well-known athletes not just in his homeland, but in his chosen sport.
Monzon’s ascent to the world middleweight title coincided with the dominance of South and Central American boxers outside of the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions.
It could be argued that Monzon was the best of the bunch. Unlike when Roberto Duran against Estaban De Jesus he did not lose a fight and unlike Jose Napoles against John H Stacey, he didn’t suffer a shock loss in his backyard. His style of fighting appeared unremarkable. Yet his ability to control what occurred in the ring helped him dominate at 160lbs.
This biography of his life, written by Don Stradley, does a good job of describing how Monzon rose from fighting fairly unknown fighters (except for Bennie Briscoe) to gaining a shot at the world title.
Something which I know was how the American boxing cognoscenti rated him as a boxer while he was at his peak. It seems not very highly, despite jointly winning Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the year award with Muhammad Ali in 1972.
Yet while the violence he exerted in the ring was measured and controlled, his life outside the ring was anything but. His affair with a glamourous film actress was just the tip of the iceberg regarding Monzon’s personal life. His life spiralled out of control and lead to a sensational court case.
This is where the book thrives, as the detail that goes into what lead to the court case, the history of the protagonists involved, and the case itself is excellent. It is here that the enormity of the court case in Argentina is explained brilliantly as well as the impact the case had not just on Argentina at the time but in the present time.
Like his biography on Edwin Valero, Don Stradley writes about his subject that shows you their dark and their light in vivid form.
Though some boxing fans may be aware of the events within Carlos Monzon’s life, both in and out of the ring, this book will add more detail to some of the more sordid details. To the casual fan, it is a good introduction to one of the greatest middleweights of all time, and one of the greatest fighters to have some from South America.