The former heavyweight champ whines and wheezes, fudges and dodges, accuses and abuses in this conspicuously self-serving...

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LARRY HOLMES: Against the Odds

The former heavyweight champ whines and wheezes, fudges and dodges, accuses and abuses in this conspicuously self-serving autobiography written with veteran author Berger (Blood Season: Tyson and the Worm of Boxing, 1989). Give him his due: Holmes is one of the few to survive the fight game with most of his faculties and a pocketful of money. After making his pro debut in 1973, Holmes hooked up with that ""dirty rotten Don King,"" a man he calls everything from a ""scumbag"" to a ""bushy-headed horseshitter,"" but with whom he inexplicably continues to work. Scoring a unanimous decision over tough Earnie Shaven in 1977, Holmes went on to win the WBC crown from Ken Norton by a single point. Feeling like a ""bargain-basement champ,"" he believed only a victory over Muhammad Ali would win him respect. That fight would not take place until 1980, when the fading Ali was 39 and ""slower than Heinz ketchup."" The win did nothing for Holmes, aside from putting $5 million in his pocket. He would barely survive fights with journeymen such as Mike Weaver (always with an excuse oft sore shoulder or bad hand that he never revealed to the press), but somehow he managed to compile a 48-0 record, one victory shy of Rocky Marciano. He then lost to Michael Spinks, mainly, he says, because of the racist sentiment against him from Italian-Americans and because he'd been ""jobbed"" by drunken, paid-off judges. He substantiates none of this. While he decries the graft and corruption in boxing, he knowingly hires shady promoters like Harold Smith, fresh out of prison. Most bizarre, perhaps, is Holmes's assertion that announcer Howard Cosell made a pass at him on two separate occasions. While his frank assertion that boxing is a needlessly brutal sport that is only about money is somewhat commendable, Holmes doesn't appear to recognize his own culpability and venality.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1998

ISBN: 1429975547

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998