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Format: Format Kindle
Pete Hamill, American journalist and novelist, writes in his Foreword to George Kimball's book "This book is about the last Golden Age of boxing. That is, it is about a time when the matches themselves transcended the squalor of the business side of the sport, and focused only on the men who fought."
This lucky reviewer was privileged to see the end of this era, to watch the last two of the nine super fights these four boxers fought with each other. Thus I was delighted to find this beautiful book, which told me details I had never heard, even though I followed the fighters and the sport closely. "Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing" radiates the feeling boxing fans had in these glorious days.
Naturally, all of it began with the childhood of the four kings, Duran, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard. Please note that I listed their names in alphabetical order because I do not want to give preference to any of them; the book makes clear how each of them helped to bring out the best in all others. Kimball tells us how it happened.
Duran came from the very poorest circumstances: "Food was scarce; unable to care for him, his mother literally gave the boy away on several occasions. He (Duran) followed Toti to a boxing gym at the age of eight, and had his first amateur bout a year later."
Hagler was shy: "On his first night Hagler once again watched in silence. On the second, Goody (Petronelli) walked over and asked with a smile, "Hey, kid, do you want to learn how to fight?" "That's what I'm here for," said Marvin. Goody told him to come back the next night and bring along his gear. Gear? All he had was a pair of cutoff jeans and some tennis shoes."
Hearns was skinny, worked hard, and was grateful to be able to participate at out-of-town trips Kronk Recreation Center's Emmanuel Stewart arranged for. Leonard, who among boxers was described as having "choirboy"-looks really sang in a church choir before he started boxing.
The book also tells the stories of their trainers, promoters, and gyms. All of them evolved with their respective fighters. There are also the stories in connection with their names. Ray Charles, after who Leonard was named, sang "America the Beautiful" before the second Leonard-Duran fight, at the Superdome, in New Orleans. Leonard won that fight. Hagler had his name legally changed from Marvin Nathaniel to Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Hearns had gotten his nickname because:"Tommy's like a Hit Man," the manager observed. "He does his business and then gets out of town." And Duran had more colorful descriptions assigned to him and his name, than anybody's mother would like to know.
Kimball's writing style is fast-paced, information-packed, and entertaining.
Fight Hagler vs Duran: "The rows of scar tissue Hagler wore like combat ribbons around his eyebrows could provide an inviting target, even for a boxer more observant of the Marquis of Queensberry rules than Roberto Duran."
Readers, who may not know about the "Queensberry rules for the sport of boxing", (written in the 19th century these are the rules, on which the rules of modern boxing are based), as well as other facts might have a harder time with this book; boxing fans however will be mesmerized by the riveting content Kimball manages to tie together to complete a beautiful picture of the boxers, the sport and the times.
Those, who miss the days when boxing was shown on the networks rather than pay-per-view, when ratings came from who fought who and not from manipulated or hyped stories, and Tommy Hearns (hailing from Detroit) could be "Motor City Cobra" with pride, will love this book.
In a way it is a neat thing that this book was written now. I read it close to my computer and watched some of the fights again on Youtube.
If you are ever looking for a gift for an important man in your life age 55+, who lived through the Golden Era, I recommend to buy this book. The chances to go wrong with "Four Kings" are remote.
Thank you, George Kimball, for this treasure.
Gisela Hausmann - author & blogger
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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While we're growing long-in-the-teeth for the great rivalries of the '80s to return to the ring, I picked up George Kimball's `Four Kings: Leonard, Hearns, Hagler, Duran, and the Last Great Era of Boxing.'
Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran are among the major colonnades of the '70s and '80s for boxing. A lot of fight fans can argue what era and class remains the golden age of boxing. Yet, when you observe the careers of these four fighters, you would be hard-pressed to argue against the tenure of their time.
In fact, if HBO and their mesmerizing 24/7 series portrayals of boxers today would have been available in the mid-80s, boxing would have remained one of the most popular sports today. I just wish that someone could turn the classic footage from the HBO Boxing preludes for each fight into a mini 24-7 series...HBO's Greatest Fights are close, but we need more.
Yes, it's true. The stories of Leonard, Duran, Hearns, and Hagler and how they intertwined haven't been highly described or investigated in detail. Fortunately, Kimball had the inside look at each fighter's climb with his job writing at the Boston Herald.
Throughout the book, he details the camp, pre-lim fights, and although Kimball interjects a lot of his own personal recollections and `I was there' descriptions that can stall the stroies, he provides sharp detail in each fighter's career. He also gives the chewy analysis upon how each fighter intertwined with one another for each fight.
Yet, the treats are found in the details provided by his notes and hanging with the great men who were in the corners. For example, due to his proximity to Brockton, Massachusetts as a Boston Herald reporter, Kimball pulls scintillating details from the rise of Hagler and through his conversations with Hagler's trainers, Goody and Pat Petronelli.
From Kimball's insights, you're not only able to see what drove Hagler for his fights, but also feel the loyalty, trust, and close bonds that Hagler had instilled throughout his career. Throughout the read, I grew to be a huge Hagler fan just alone upon the close circle that he kept throughout his career.
The sincere frustration that Hagler and the Petrocellis must have felt waiting for the big fights to come with Leonard and Hearns is symbolic of Hagler's final fight with Ray Leonard...He was robbed. The saving grace is that we saw him dominate the middleweight division for the time that we had. The bottom line here says that Hagler is the statue of this era, and I wish that we could grab more details upon him and his management team. He is what boxing is about and how fighters should handle their business.
Gems are also found in the conversations and details that Kimball gleams from Emmanuel Steward with his experience with Thomas Hearns. Kimball takes great care to compile all of the tidbits to determine who was the greatest talent of them all, and if not for the drama often found in Hearns's camps and pre-fight preparations, we may not even be questioning who the greatest fighter of all-time was.
Just for fun, take a look back at the Hearns-Duran fight via YouTube...What a master display of three minutes. The talent is incredible.
As for Leonard, Kimball eases through the events and depiction of Leonard. During the read, you definitely get to see the gloss that followed Leonard throughout his career and how the shine shielded a lot of his shortcomings in both in and out of the ring. After Leonard's rise from the `76 Olympics to the mainstream, you almost want to snicker at his results after the `No Mas' decision.
Kimball also finds nice details surrounding the rise of Duran and his camps throughout the book. If there is a fighter who seems to be neglected for his legendary career, it's `El Cholo', Roberto Duran, and Kimball fits the bill with great anecdotes and inside details.
Although the read provides great details, I would have liked to have seen more details and insights upon Roberto Duran, Kimball touches upon a lot of strong theories into Duran's strategies, his famed `No Mas' call, and his rise to the top of the heap. Yet, I would have liked to have heard more details from "Los Manos de Piedras" himself.
As a side note, unfortunately, with the passing of Duran's long-time trainer and boxing legend, Ray Arcel, we're not able to hear Arcel's voice as often as any boxing aficionado would hope to have from the legendary cornerman...(Check out Dave Anderson's "In The Corner" if you're looking for more Arcel nuggets and other tips from boxing great trainers. Kimball used Anderson's book as a reference. (In fact, I'll have another review for you shortly...I'm still reading the chapters on Eddie Futch, Kevin Rooney, and George Benson for a second go-around...Yes, that much fun.)
This reader would also like to see more answers of why Aaron Pryor couldn't have been included into rotation...Now, the neglection of Aaron Pryor for the great welterweight division runs, that's an overlooked story...Talk about a travesty for fight fans. (Note of bias: Pryor is this reviewer's favorite all-time fighting talent...Bar-none.)
In a lot of ways, I found that the read is more like the diving into the footnotes of the great depictions that were found in SIs and Ring Magazines. Lots of facts and interview snippets without a lot of gloss. The read also explores the great question:
Where are the big rivalries in the sport of boxing today...?
The book offers the mainstream opinions surrounding the topic.
First, the separation of divisions absolutely killed the rivalries. Second, the networks of HBO, Showtime, and other cable outlets dividing the fighters for their own promotions and not allowing them to have bouts within their divisions in order to protect their own promotional interests for their boxing schedules.
Kimball adds another theory from Gil Clancy that is a simple one to add to the answer the puzzle for the fall of boxing in the late '80s and '90s...Crack. According to Clancy, you had a whole generation that was skipped because of the inner-city drug wars, and the result is that boxing lost it's hold in the great urban cities.
From this blogga's point of view, after watching the fall of USA Boxing over the past decade from our dominance in the Olympics, we need to know more. I wish that we could see rivalries nurture and grow like the `Four Kings.' Yet, I think we'll have to turn to tennis or even ...Yeeech, the UFC in 40 years, to ever see a time like this one again.
Here's to Brockton, Mass, Washington, D.C., Guarere, Panama, and Detroit, Michigan...Thanks to George Kimball, and enjoy this read.
17 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Kimball is a boxing insider, and that alone qualifies him to write a book that is long overdue. I've been reading his articles covering the Sweet Science for three decades and his command of the lingo, recollection of details, and his ability to turn a phrase well, make "Four Kings" well worth reading.
Duran, Leonard, Hearns, and Hagler are modern day Greek Heroes. They're more than that. Neither Achilles, nor Odysseus, nor Arthur, nor Beowulf have anything on these four warriors, shrouded in myth and exaggeration as they are. The four kings' conquests, by contrast, can be seen on film.
Roberto Duran was the greatest among them. He came out of the barrios of Panama where he experienced the kind of poverty no American has tasted to become probably the greatest lightweight who ever lived. His reign of terror in his natural division lasted 7 years. He defied history and probability by stepping up a full division to challenge one of the greatest welterweights (that's 12 lbs north of the lightweight division) who ever lived in Sugar Ray Leonard -defeating him over 15 rounds. This hadn't been done in 50 years. Lightweights don't beat welterweights due to the difference in size. For Duran, pushing 30 and in his 70th fight, to defeat Leonard, who was younger, bigger, faster, and in his prime, was a considerable feat that confirmed the greatness of Duran.
Then came the fall. Duran quit in the rematch.
Three years later, he rises from the ashes of his disgrace and takes a 3rd title, once again from a younger, faster, and this time far stronger champion in Davey Moore. He then does the unthinkable. He steps up to the middleweight division and faces a man who is considered among the greatest of the 160 pounders ever -Brockton's own Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Duran becomes the first man to go the distance with Hagler. Only crazy lightweights would challenge middleweights, particularly as dominant a middleweight as Hagler was. And Duran was right there at the last bell, still scowling with those Manson lamps at the shaven-headed champion.
Uninspired and unready, Duran's next bout was with the fearsome punching Thomas Hearns. Duran is carried out on his shield inside of two rounds. But just when you thought it was over for Beowulf, he steps into the ring against another, larger, dragon. Iran Barkley had just knocked out Hearns (!) and decides that he is going to "finish off these legends." A friend of Davey Moore (who had died in an unrelated accident some time after the beating Duran gave him), Barkley had a vendetta to settle. He wants to destroy Duran. It's 1989. For perspective, know that Duran turned professional in 1968. He became lightweight champion in 1972. The champion is 6'1 and in his prime. Duran is 5'7, 25 pounds out of his natural division, and a decade past his prime. Summoning the kind of skill and courage that is rarely seen in the civilized world, Duran knocks down the giant and stands triumphant at the end of 12 rounds -a fourth title is his. Duran is Beowulf. He is Odysseus.
Duran is the greatest among the kings. There is little doubt about this among analysts and historians of the sport, and Kimball surprises me by failing to fully recognize this. He disappoints as well because he seems to take for granted that Duran was a man who fought as a 135 pounder during his prime, and who nevertheless had the intestinal fortitude to challenge all-time elites in the 147 (Leonard), 154 (Hearns), and 160 (Hagler) pound divisions when each and every one of them were in their primes.