There is a kind of after-hours stigma attached to modern boxing. Far removed from Ali standing—black-and-white-poster-print—over Liston, fights now are usually a rock-em, sock-em Late Nite show piped out on deeply-buried cable stations, or a blue-moon main event accompanied by the letters PPV and sponsorships shinier than the shorts in the ring. Boxing's been given the inorganic HBO treatment—bastardized, some would say—by grotesque caricatures like Tyson and his impossibly-high-pitches theatrics.
Which is perhaps why boxing—the way it used to be—has been canonized, too, enjoying somewhat of a sentimental resurgence in the mainstream with movies like Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man, and Resurrecting the Champ portraying a pageant of grit and heart—of earnest men giving themselves to the ring and doing it for pride and class, not promotional contracts.
It is precisely this kind of boxing that veteran sportswriter George Kimball chronicles exhaustively in Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Durán and the Last Great Era of Boxing, an enthusiastic jaunt through the sport's brief return to artistry in the post-Ali era, painted by Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns, and Roberto Durán.The book reads like a compendium of boxing manna in its own right, with recollections from fighters, promoters, and those for whom simply watching these fighters spar was as much a thrill as a gift. But more so, Four Kings is the product of Kimball's immediately apparent zeal for the processes of the sport. . . (Read Gelf's full interview with George Kimball.)
Purchase Four Kings, by George Kimball, at McBooks.com