American writers have been fascinated by the ring, both the primal contest inside the ropes and the crazy carnival world outside them. From neighborhood gyms and smoke-filled arenas to star-studded casinos and exotic locales, they have chronicled unforgettable stories about determination and dissipation, about great champions and punch-drunk has-beens, about colorful entourages and outrageous promoters, and, inevitably along the way, about race, class, and violence in America. Like baseball, boxing has a vivid culture and language all its own, one that has proven irresistible to career journalists and literary writers alike.
The Library of America presents a gritty and glittering anthology of a century of the very best writing and reportage about the fights. Here are Jack London on the immortal Jack Johnson; H. L. Mencken and Irvin S. Cobb on Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier, dubbed ""The Fight of the Century""; Richard Wright on Joe Louis's historic victory over Max Schmeling; A. J. Liebling's brilliantly comic portrait of a manager who really identifies with his fighter; Jimmy Cannon on the inimitable Archie Moore; James Baldwin and Gay Talese on the haunted Floyd Patterson; George Plimpton on Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X; Norman Mailer on the ""Rumble in the Jungle""; Mark Kram on the ""Thrilla in Manila""; Pete Hamill on legendary trainer and manager Cus D'Amato; Mark Kriegel on Oscar de la Hoya; and David Remnick and Joyce Carol Oates on Mike Tyson. National Book Award-winning novelist Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin) weighs in with a foreword.