The Boxing Kings, Two Years Later

Today marks two years since the publication of The Boxing Kings. The book grew out of a passion for boxing that gripped me in my early years, a passion that included not just watching matches on television but also reading about the sport’s history and watching old films (such as were available in that pre-Internet era) of famous fights described in the books I’d found. As much as the contemporary sport captivated me—and I grew up in its last golden era—it was its rich, character-laden past that left the deepest impression, and that seeded the ground for the book I’d write years later. Of all those characters, it was the heavyweight champions that remained most vivid, an inexhaustible gallery of human types that I’ve carried in my head ever after.

Though The Boxing Kings is many algorithms short of bestseller status, I’ve been pleased by the reception the book has gotten from those who’ve read it. It has a five-star rating on Amazon, which is enormously gratifying, and it was a heady experience to see the book reviewed positively by expert boxing scribes such as Bobby Franklin, Gary Lucken, Rafael Garcia, Don Stradley, Thomas Hauser, and Thomas Gerbasi, as well as by non-boxing writers whose work I’ve long admired, such as Michael Brendan Dougherty, Jacob Siegel, Larry Thornberry, and Daniel Flynn.

During the years I worked on the book, I’d sometimes wonder: “Will Mike Silver think I got it right?” Among boxing historians, I know of none with Mike’s breadth of knowledge or scholarly integrity. Thus, imagine how I felt when I read what Mike wrote on the book’s Amazon page: “I am very familiar with the history of boxing’s heavyweight division and have read numerous accounts of that history in other books, but this is the best I have ever read.” As far as I’m concerned, this is the book’s seal of historical approval.

I had lots of fun talking about the book to audiences, and on radio, with many colorful and interesting hosts. But in the radio world, I owe a special thanks to Craig Silverman of KNUS-Denver, who has had me on more times than is probably advisable. Outside of my immediate family, Craig has been, quite simply, the best friend The Boxing Kings has had. Thanks for everything, Craig.

For years I’d heard established authors give variations of that venerable message that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters most. Easy for them to say, I’d think—they’ve gotten across the finish line. Only when I reached my own finish line did I understand that they were right. Though it was, and is, a joy to see The Boxing Kings between covers, the deepest joy was the work itself—some of the happiest years I’ve ever spent.