NO WAY BUT TO FIGHT by Andrew R.M. Smith


George Foreman and the Business of Boxing
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An account of a punch man–turned-pitchman and the business in which he made his name.

A two-time heavyweight champion of the world and Olympic gold medalist, George Foreman (b. 1949) has led a fascinating life in and outside of the ring: a poor child who became a rich man; an overweight man and a world-class athlete; a devoted man who has been married five times; a sports commentator; a reality show subject and sitcom actor; and, of course, a home-shopping network star who sold a staggering number of meat cookers. Most pertinently, he went toe-to-toe with some of the best pugilists in the history of a quintessential American sport. In his first book, Smith (Sport Management and History/Nichols Coll.) approaches his subject in a scholarly manner, and readers receive such conclusions as, “He had not yet achieved the ‘emotional invulnerability’ of a soul aesthetic even if he looked the part,” and are regularly referred to more than 50 pages of footnotes. Unquestionably, the author did his homework, including research into declassified government documents, and he takes readers to far-flung locales, including Zaire in 1974 for the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" with Muhammad Ali. “Like a matador,” writes Smith of the fight, “he circled the ring, using his fists and his words to manipulate Foreman into a position for the estocada. Foreman looked to gore him, but he had been weakened by seven rounds of Ali’s physical and verbal banderillas.” In addition to Foreman’s bouts, the author also offers detailed (sometimes overly so) examinations of how those fights came to be, illustrating the nature of the sport—what Foreman says is “truly a gangster’s game”—more than providing a nuanced picture of the man.

Although not for the casual fan—if those exist in boxing anymore—students of the sport will find plenty to chew on.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4773-1976-5
Page count: 408pp
Publisher: Univ. of Texas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2019


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