Audio Books for the Boxing Enthusiast

May 10, 2011

The sport of boxing has fascinated audiences young and old for generations, dating back as far as 7,000 years.  And whether you like the artistry of bodies in motion or the thrill of a live fight, there is simply nothing quite like watching a boxing match.  So if you’re on the lookout for audio books that speak to the inner fighter in all of us, here are a few that are well worth the listen.

1.       The Sweet Science by A.J. Liebling.  Boxing enthusiast Liebling wrote for The New Yorker on a variety of topics, all of them interesting and all of them beloved to the writer.  Boxing was only one of them, but in this audio collection of essays, his love of the sport shines through.  He analyzes fights and interviews some of the biggest names in boxing history (Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, etc.), but it’s less play-by-play and more prose, with a dynamic style that takes you into the ring and helps you to envision the fight.

2.       Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History by Jeremy Schaap.  The host of ESPN’s Outside the Lines gets his history on with this audio book that explores not only Depression-era boxing, but also the circumstance that led Braddock to become one of the most inspiring figures in the sport (and of the era, for that matter).  The titular match is delivered in detail with round-by-round accounting, but you’ll be drawn in by the story of a man who was favored to win, fell on hard times, and pulled himself back up to become the boxer he was meant to be.  If you liked the dramatized version of this story told in the movie of the same name, you’ll really love the factual history surrounding the man.

3.       Punching: Skills, Tips, & Techniques (Fast Track Audiobook Series) by Sammy Franco.  Whether you’re tired of watching from ringside and you want to get in the game, or you just want to learn some basic self-defense, Sammy Franco can get you started with this lesson in punching techniques.  You’ll not only learn basic skills, but also common mistakes, dos and don’ts, injury avoidance, and how to train both with and without boxing equipment.  It’s a great how-to for the average Joe who wants to learn to use his fists like a pro.

4.       Muhammad Ali: A Tribute by Geoffrey Giuliano.  He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, but whether you call him The Champ, The Greatest, The Louisville Lip, or simply Cassius Clay, you probably realize that he is the best known boxer in history, due partly to his amazing talent in the ring and partly to his tumultuous personal life.  This two-hour tribute to the man behind the myth is composed not only of interviews with those who have known him, but also rare clips of Ali himself.

5.       The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.  Some will remember the movie of the same name that was released in 1992 (starring a very young Stephen Dorff as the adult P.K.).  It was based on the fictional novel, which features a young British boy growing up in South Africa under the flag of Apartheid (Dutch colonial rule).  He turns to boxing and mentorship by the native Boers to help him get through a troubled childhood punctuated by prejudice and mistreatment in an Apartheid boarding school.  And the audiobook sets a rich landscape for this story that relates not only a boy’s love of boxing, but also how he uses his power to change the world around him.

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