SPORTING BLOOD

TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE OF BOXING

An often engaging set of boxing profiles that packs a powerful punch and rarely misses its target.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A history of the cruelest sport, told in brutal, poignant vignettes of boxing greats.

As Thomas Hauser, the author of Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times (1991), notes in this book’s foreword, few newspapers or magazines today employ full-time writers devoted to boxing, and substandard boxing websites have proliferated. But Acevedo, the founder of The Cruelest Sport website, stands out in this landscape; his prizewinning writing has been featured in Boxing Digest, Boxing World, and other publications, and this book may cement his status as one of today’s best boxing journalists. In these 21 tales of boxing legends, he looks at tragic heroes of yore, such as early-1900s sensation Jack Johnson, and adds nuance to the stories of well-known later fighters, such as Mike Tyson. With his expertise in boxing technique and form, Acevedo expertly weaves together fighters’ private lives and dramas inside the ring. He’s particularly adept at placing boxers in historical context, such as the Jim Crow South that produced Johnson, and the Northern, racist judicial system that targeted him because he dated white women and defeated many white men in the ring. Many essays challenge prevailing notions about boxing icons; for example, Acevedo focuses on aspects of boxing great Muhammad Ali’s life that white “middle-class baby boomers” and “activist liberals” may take issue with. Ali, he says, was a conservative Muslim who had a strict moral code against drinking and smoking, adhered to traditional gender roles, and not only rejected civil disobedience as a protest strategy, but also opposed the integrationist ideals of 1960s activists. By the 1980s, Acevedo says, Ali had befriended right-wing authoritarians Idi Amin and Ferdinand Marcos as well as prominent American conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Acevedo’s crisp, efficient essays will be accessible to general audiences who may be unfamiliar with many of the fighters, such as Don Jordan, Johnny Tapia, or Eddie Machen, but his fresh insights will still appeal to hardcore fans, as he looks at the greats in new ways. Ringside photographs and artistically shot portraits of fighters complement each chapter and give the book a powerful visual aesthetic. The author compellingly begins his first chapter on Ali with a touching story of his own father's giving him a comic book featuring Superman and Ali as characters, which launched Acevedo’s lifelong passion for boxing. This passage is so beautifully written that it may well leave readers wanting more of the author’s insights on his own life and career. However, each vignette that follows is provocative in its own way, and the book’s structured framework attempts to tie them into a larger, overarching narrative. That said, introductory and concluding chapters might have helped to better unify the book’s common themes of triumph, tragedy, self-destruction, and brutality and made the book a more cohesive read from start to finish. Despite this deficiency, Acevedo still delivers one of the better books on boxing in recent years.

An often engaging set of boxing profiles that packs a powerful punch and rarely misses its target. (sources)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949590-07-4

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Hamilcar Publications

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 48


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 48


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

Close Quickview