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Thread: Book Review - UnCrowned Champions

  1. #1
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    Mar 2006

    Book Review - UnCrowned Champions

    UnCrowned Champions
    by J.J. Johnston and Don Cogswell

    Uncrowned Champions is a collection of essays recounting the greatness and the tragic oversight of prize fighters from the first half of the 20th century. J.J. Johnston is an amateur boxer-turned-actor-turned-boxing historian who co-authored Chicago Boxing (2005), Chicago Amateur Boxing (2006), and Babyface and Pop (2011) –the latter of which is an overdue biography of the great Jimmy McLarnin. D.S. Cogswell is a boxing historian and member of the International Boxing Research Organization. He has written extensively about the sweet science over many years.

    Tipping the scales at almost 2 lbs and with 22 articles spanning over 300 pages, Uncrowned Champions approaches Big Bill Tate in the book weight division. The sheer volume of information it offers to boxing aficionados, chroniclers, and historians rivals the punch stats of Harry Greb over 15 rounds. Perhaps its most attractive feature is the graphics that are offered on almost every page –artwork by the late Robert Carson is accompanied by rare action photographs, portraits, and contemporary newspaper sketches.

    While it is and always has been true that the sport of boxing offers poor boys a detour from dead-ends, it doesn’t end with that. Only a small percentage of those gloves take hold of fame and fortune. Far more have ended their careers as broken as they were broke, despite their blood-stained determination and often enough, despite their skill.

    Who tells their stories?

    The enthusiasm of Johnston and Cogswell burns brightly enough to see them exhume even the smallest details about long-dead giants like Peter Jackson, Harry Wills, George Godfrey, and the great giant-killer himself –Sam Langford. Later fighters examined include Lloyd Marshall, Holman Williams, “Tiger” Ted Lowry, Charley Burley, and Jimmy Bivins. Mike Gibbons and Packey McFarland stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest and in rebuke to the widely-held notion that a fighter’s complexion was his only hindrance to glory.

    Interestingly, this book reduces well-known icons to supporting roles, and yet it whispers something else, something quite poignant: Great though they were, the world champions with names every boxing fan knew were, in the end, lucky. There were others –and these others were ducked and avoided because of their color, lack of connections, or the timing of their arrival on the scene. They may have been every bit as good as the gods of the ring.

    There were others; Johnston and Cogswell have summoned them out of the black and into the blue.

    ~ Springs Toledo

    Uncrowned Champions (2011) by J.J. Johnston and D.S. Cogswell.
    Nonfiction/sports history. $38.00. 978-1-4507-7749-0.

    for a signed copy, email Cogswell at bxscribe@pacbell.net

    Last edited by Dan1213; 10-07-2011 at 11:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Re: Book Review - UnCrowned Champions

    Chuck wrote me this morning . . .

    I had the page magnifier working overtime until early this morning reading about the great "uncrowned" fighters and the wonderful intertwined scenarios presented as well. The professionalism and terrific editing job of a certain A. I. Yoskowitz should also be cited.

    Chuck Hasson

  3. #3
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    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Re: Book Review - UnCrowned Champions

    Table of Contents:

    Black Prince Peter - Peter Jackson

    A Rite of Passage

    Boston Tarbaby - Sam Langford

    The White Man's Burden

    Saint Paul Phantom - Mike Gibbons

    Extended Bouts of Reign

    Pride of the Stockyards - Packey McFarland

    The Great War and Boxing

    Over There

    Orphans in the Storm

    Darkess Before the Dawn

    Brown Panther - Harry Wills

    The Law of Unintended Consequences

    Dark Shadow of Leiperville - George Godfrey

    Fame, Fortune & Fisticuffs

    Lloyd Marshall

    Holman Williams

    Another Man Done Gone: Boxing and the Second World War

    On the Wings of the Brown Bomber

    Stardust & Resin

    For the Duration

    Charley Burley

    Jimmy Bivins

    Trinkets . . .

    The King Must Die

    . . . Galore

    When You Wish Upon a Star

    Professional Career Records of the UnCrowned Champions

    Hall of Fame (IBHOF) Induction Years
    Last edited by don1234; 10-18-2011 at 04:51 PM.

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