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Books

Top 5 books on boxing, chosen by commentator Andy Clarke

Novels, travelogues and interview collections that get under the skin of boxers

Image: Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

Sky Sports boxing commentator and author Andy Clarke on his picks of the books that capture the life of a fighter.

The Black Lights by Thomas Hauser

Hauser pulls back the curtain on the sport and shows the reader boxing as insiders know it: “A sport that involves equal measures of greed and heart, loyalty and exploitation, courage and pain.”

Dark Trade: Lost In Boxing by Donald McRae

A William Hill Sports Book of the Year, Dark Trade is an intoxicating, intimate conversational chronicle which sees the subtle and intelligent McRae in the company of the likes of Mike Tyson, Chris Eubank, Evander Holyfield, Frank Bruno and Naseem Hamed.

The Professional by WC Heinz

Published in 1958, this is one of a handful of boxing novels that have really captured the essence of the existence of a fighter. Devout boxing fan Ernest Hemingway described it as “the only good novel about a fighter I’ve ever read and an excellent novel in its own right”.

Shadow Box by George Plimpton

Probably my all-time favourite boxing book. Plimpton, a contemporary of Norman Mailer and Ernest Hemingway, and present at such legendary fights as the Rumble in the Jungle, paints a picture of the sport like no other.

The Road to Nowhere by Tris Dixon

Armed with just a bus pass, a notebook and stamina, Dixon traverses the USA tracking down and arriving unannounced on the doorsteps of one-time contenders and cult heroes. A terrific boxing odyssey.

The Knockout by Andy Clarke is out on 30 May (Quarto, £17.99). Some of these titles are available to buy or preorder from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.
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