Clay Moyle
By Kelly Richard Nicholson

Kelly Nicholson’s new book ‘Hitters, Dancers and Ring Magicians’ has been in the works for quite a while. In fact, I saw a nearly completed manuscript for it six years ago. But, having now read the finished product I can see that the additional time it’s taken to get it into print has been put to good use digging up many more interesting facts. Dan Cuoco, the Director of the International Boxing Research Organization, provided the foreward, and as he say’s, Kelly begins by providing the reader with a historical context of the sport from the late 19th century, and then follows that with seven chapters that are effectively mini-biographies of fighters who exemplified the strength and spirit of the game during the period of 1890 to 1910.

That period of time was filled with not only a multitude of great fighters, but a number of extremely colorful characters as well. The men that Kelly chose to focus on in this 216-page soft cover book are in order: George “Kid” Lavigne, Bob Fitzsimmons, “Barbados” Joe Walcott, Joe Gans, Terry McGovern, Sam Langford and Stanley Ketchel. I agree with Dan’s statement that any selection of a few men as being the best or the most destructive of their time will invite argument, but as he points out Kelly doesn’t pretend to have the final word on that issue, he merely presents these seven men as a worthy cross-section of the best and bravest during that period of time, and as does so with descriptions of their exploits that are first class.

I think Kelly would agree with me when I say that it’s often difficult to separate fact from fiction when one is writing about men from that era, but I believe he’s made every effort to do that, and makes a point of calling into question certain details that have been written about these men over the past century. I strongly recommend the book and endorse it as a well researched and entertaining piece of work. As a collector, my only real complaint is that the book isn’t available as a hardback.

The book was published by McFarland Publishing and is priced at $29.95. It can be ordered from their website or by phone via # 800-253-2187

 Hitters, Dancers and Ring Magicians

Callis description --

Lavigne was sturdy and muscular in build; He was very quick and a hard hitter; His power far exceeded his size; He was rough and durable; His reach was 64 1/2 inches; Lavigne was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1959 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998

During his career, Lavigne defeated such men as Joe Walcott, Dick Burge, Eddie Connolly, Tom Tracey, "Wilmington" Jack Daly, Joe Soto, Johnny Griffin, Jerry Marshall, Andy Bowen and Jack Everhardt

Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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