Saturday, February 28, 2015

Oscar "El Torito" Diaz: Welterweight Champion Passes

Remembering...Oscar "El Torito" Diaz
September 29, 1982 - February 26, 2015

The Boxing Glove would like to send out our condolences to the family and friends of Oscar “El Torito” Diaz. Oscar Diaz has passed away in San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 32 years old. He made his boxing debut in 2001 and won the NABA and the NABF welterweight championships.

Diaz had sustained a brain injury on July 16, 2008, when he was fighting for the USBA welterweight championship against Delvin Rodriguez. As a result of the injuries from the fight, Diaz was in a coma for two months, and spent the past several years since his injury in and out of rehabilitation. His death was due to the complications of the injuries he sustained during the USBA title fight.

With the passing of Oscar Diaz, we would like to remind people that many boxers do not have medical insurance or a pension plan when they get into the boxing profession. Boxing is a sport that many of us enjoy, but, do we really think about what happens to these athletes if they sustain injury in the ring or when the lights have faded, along with their careers? We would like to appeal to the boxing community to support these boxers and those organizations, like the Retired Boxers Foudation, Inc., to make a change in the boxing profession. Write boxing boards, councils, and world bodies to change their policies and to give athletes benefits and medical protections. These boxers are making these organizations millions of dollars and bring entertainment to us, they deserve to be treated in a humane way, and that means giving them support in their time of need.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and
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Risky Business at the O2

Tyson Fury  23(17koes)-0 will put his World heavyweight title ambitions on the line tonight, Saturday, February 28th, against the tough Christian Hammer 17(10koes)-3, when they meet at London’s O2 Arena. 

Hammer is a Germany-based Romanian who should come to fight. He comes into this fight with little to lose against Fury, while Fury has it all to lose against Hammer.

Fury is waiting for a shot at World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, and any slip up against Hammer would be disastrous. However, the chances of Fury coming unstuck against Hammer is remote. Fury has taken this fight seriously and looks to be in good condition, and while Hammer is tough and willing, he is a level below Fury.  This could be an interesting fight while it lasts, but it is unlikely that Hammer will last the distance.  Fury should be able to end things between the 5th and 7th rounds.  Indeed, he may well use this fight to send out a message of intent to Wladimir.

On the undercard of the Fury vs. Hammer contest is an interesting clash between Chris Eubank Jr. 18(13koes)-1 and Russian Dmitry Chudinov 14(9koes)-0-2, for the Interim WBA world middleweight championship.  While the title is one of today’s more spurious belts, the fight itself is an important one, offering the winner a possible future shot at WBA world middleweight king Gennady Golovkin. 

This will be Eubank Jr.’s first outing since his bittersweet showdown with Billy Joe Saunders, and he has certainly chosen not to take the soft route back. Against Saunders, the son of former world champion Chris Eubank Sr., showed an almost split boxing personality, fighting the first 5 rounds almost in a daze, and then coming alive in the last half of the fight to almost put the result out of the bag.  The end result is that there are still as many questions regarding Eubank Jr., as there are answers.  On one hand, against Saunders Eubank looked woefully inexperienced, and seemed to have frozen, on the other hand, he showed enough explosive flashes of talent to make many observers believe that Eubank Jr. may still have what it takes to follow in the world championship footsteps of his famous father.

The truth behind this belief will receive a n interesting test on Saturday night when Eubank meets Chudinov.  The Russian is himself something of a mystery man, and the result could well be the fight of the night that will tell us a lot about both men, especially Christ Eubank Jr. 

This looks like a points win for Eubank Jr, and a win which will put him right back into the mix, and a very possible rematch with Billy Joe Saunders in the not too distant future.

Tyson Fury Vs. Christian Hammer Weigh-In

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review: The Choynski Chronicles

 The Sunday Book Review by Peter Silkov

“The Choynski Chronicles:  A Biography of Hall of Fame Boxer Jewish Joe Coynski”  by Christopher J. Laforce

Joe Choynski is a name that will probably fail to ring a bell for most boxing fans today, aside from those who have an acute interest in the history of the sport and the great fighters of the past.  Yet, Choynski was one of the greatest fighters of his time, and during a career, which ran from 1889 to 1904. “Chrysanthemum Joe” fought a dazzling array of top names, including five men who would go on to become heavyweight champion of the world.  It is an irony of Choynski’s career, and probably one of the reasons why he is not more remembered today by the general boxing fan, that he never got the chance to fight for the world title himself during his career.

Therefore, this is a biography that is seeking to regain some of the recognition and acclaim for Joe Choynski that has been lost steadily over the past 111 years since he last boxed competitively. With that in mind, author Christopher J. Laforce has made “The Choynski Chronicles” a magnum opus.  This is a near 800-page study on Choynski, both as a fighter and as a man.  Choynski’s personal and professional life is gone over in great detail. Choynski was not your average boxer, especially for the time. 

Born Joseph Bartlett Choynski, on November 8, 1868, in San Francisco California, he did not come from a poverty-stricken background, but rather a materially comfortable upbringing, with parents that were both cultured and intelligent. It is little surprise then that Choynski was to be one of the cleverest fighters of his time. He was one of first true boxer-punchers, mixing speed and ring science, with a true knockout punch.  This mixture of brains, speed, and power would enable Choynski to compete with the best heavyweights of the 1890s and 1900s, despite never weighing much more than 170 pounds. Chrysanthemum Joe often had to give away 20 or 30 pounds away to his opponents, but showed that size in itself is often no guarantee of victory, when met with the kind of strength and intelligence that Choynski possessed.

Choynski was the first of what would prove to be a wave of outstanding Jewish-American boxers. In many ways, he was a man ahead of his time, both as a fighter and as a man.

During his ring career, Choynski swapped punches with such top names as Frank Childs, Kid Mccoy, Joe Goddard, Jim Corbett, Tom Sharkey, Peter Maher, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jim Jeffries, Jack Johnson and Marvin Hart.  

One of the fascinating aspects of Choynski’s career is that he fought Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jim Jeffries, Jack Johnson, and Marvin Hart, all before they won the Heavyweight championship of the world.  Amongst Choynski’s best results were his draws with Bob Fitzsimmons and Jim Jeffries, the Jeffries draw being after 20 rounds! However, Choynski’s most notable career victory must be his 3rd round knockout of a young Jack Johnson.

While Choynski was certainly afraid of no man regardless of size or reputation, another commendable aspect of his ring career is that he was one of the few top white heavyweights of his time not to draw the colour bar, and fought a number of the top coloured heavyweights of his day.  Indeed, within this biography there is a fascinating story of how after he had knocked out Jack Johnson, the both of them were jailed for 3 weeks for breach of the peace, and while incarcerated, they spent their time boxing exhibitions for the public. During these exhibitions, and the private time that they spent together, Choynski schooled Johnson in the science of defence, and Johnson would go on to be one of the greatest defensive technicians that the Heavyweight division has ever seen.

The Choynski Chronicles looks deeply into all of his fights, with round-by- round commentaries, and many insights into the build-ups and aftermaths of his battles, often using various newspaper articles from the time itself to shed light upon these historic fights.  But, this book is more than just a study of Choynski; it is also a fascinating insight into the lives and characters of the other boxers of his era, and the times in which they all lived. 

The book is filled with hundreds of rare photos, including many of Choynski’s opponents. There is also a detailed index and appendix, and a full record of Chrysanthemum Joe’s career. 

Some may find the size of this book daunting, but Laforces’s narrative, along with the huge amount of historical details, which he includes, combines to form a fascinating portrait of a very unique boxer and man.

Sometimes the balance between writing a definitive biography and an entertaining read can be lost in the detail, however, The Choynski Chronicles, Laforce has managed to keep that balance and even rise above it, and to form a biography that is a must read for anyone with any interest in boxing history.  Even those who are already acquainted with Choynski’s life and career will find much that they didn’t previously know within these pages.

The Choynski Chronicles is as clever and hard-hitting a book, as the man it portrays. 

 Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Review: Mi Vida Loca: The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia

The Boxing Glove Sunday Night Book Review by Peter Silkov

“Mi Vida Loca: The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia”
By Johnny Tapia & Bettina Gilois

The autobiographies and biographies of boxers tend to be generally a little more dramatic than the lives of other sportsmen. For whatever reason, boxers live a bit more on the edge of life to most people. Perhaps this is one of the ingredients that go into making a boxer. Over the years, there have been many boxing biographies about fighters who have been born on the wrong side of the tracks and made good through their involvement with the fight game. However, the path to success is seldom a smooth one and success in itself is often just a prelude to an impending fall. 

Even by the usual standards of the clichéd cycle of success and failure, which seems to haunt so many boxers, Johnny Tapia’s story is one of extremes, extreme highs and extreme lows. A life lived upon the constant precipice of impending disaster. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine anyone having a life that swung more violently from the sweetness of victory inside the ring, to the bitterness of addictions and tragedy outside of it, than Tapia. To say his life was lived on a razor’s edge is an understatement. Johnny’s life was lived on a burning razor, and perhaps the biggest triumph of this physically small man’s life is that he managed to achieve so much and touch so many before he was finally done.

The title of Johnny’s biography says it all, “Mi Vida Loca”, which translated from Spanish means,  ‘My Crazy Life.’ This title is not just the title of a book, it was a title of his life, so much so that Johnny even had these words tattooed on his chest.

Throughout “Mi Vida Loca”, the narrative is first person; it is a basic, unpretentious technique, which fits Tapia’s persona perfectly. Anyone who has seen footage of Tapia talking will know that he was as quick and inexhaustible with words, as he was with throwing punches.  If anyone was made for a first person narrative, it was Johnny.
“Mi Vida Loca” reads as if you and Johnny have sat down together for a few hours and Johnny is running through the X-rated movie that is his life. He was a five-time world champion who was also declared dead five times from overdoses.

Born on Friday the 13th, Tapia asks in the introduction to this book…
‘My name is Johnny Lee Tapia.  I was born on Friday the 13th, a Friday in February of 1967. To this day I don’t know if that makes me lucky or unlucky.’ 

Johnny grew up believing that his father had been murdered before he was born.  Ironically, a little before his own death Johnny would find out that this was untrue and that his father was actually alive, but this event actually occurred after the publication of this book.

Tapia’s mother was murdered when he was just eight years old, after he had helplessly witnessed her abduction. She was stabbed over 20 times, and raped, and died days later in hospital. Johnny didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to his mother while she was dying in hospital, or later, at her funeral. He was forbidden to go to either by his Grandparents.

It was to be a loss from which Johnny would never fully recover for the rest of his life.     He was left in the care of his Grandparents, numerous cousins, and aunts and uncles, (some of them not much older than Johnny himself) that constantly crowded their house. 

The story of Johnny’s childhood is not for the faint-hearted. Life was far from easy when his mother was around to protect him, but after her violent death, he was dragged headfirst down into the grip of his horrifically dysfunctional Grandparent’s household. 
Tapia grew up surrounded by drugs and violence and the bed for him was a little corner of the floor. In his Grandparents household, beatings were commonplace, and surrounded by his older relatives, as many as 15, of varying ages, the tiny Johnny was always a ready target.  Yet, Johnny was a ‘natural’ fighter. He had to be, just to survive. Soon Johnny’s uncles started taking him to bars and carparks to fight all- comers for a few dollars. Defeat in any of these ‘fights’ means a bigger beating for Tapia afterwards at the hands of his uncles. 

It made no difference that Johnny was barely nine years old.

“I was raised as a pitbull, raised to fight to the death.”

Aside from his Mother’s murder, Johnny recollects various other harrowing events that he survived or witnessed as a child, such as a bus crash in which he sees a pregnant woman die in front of him.

That Friday the 13th statement reoccurs throughout the book.

Despite the often-dark imagery of Tapia’s experiences, there are also moments of humour in “Mi Vida Loca,” albeit usually wrapped in black. Sometimes Johnny’s escapades, even at some of his lowest moments, are like something out of an old-fashioned slapstick comedy film.    

In time, boxing would prove to be Tapia’s salvation. From a precocious amateur career, followed by a championship laden professional career, Johnny found the inside of the boxing ring a far safer place than the world beyond the ropes. It is perhaps the only place where Johnny truly found the peace of mind that he searched for throughout his life.

If the reader is about to think that stardom and triumph in the boxing ring would sooth all Johnny’s demons, they will realize they are sadly mistaken. If anything, the success he gained in boxing often left Johnny with a bittersweet taste. It’s almost as if part of himself resents his own success, and soon, he is seemingly doing his best to ruin the very thing that offers him salvation.

After resisting drugs all of his life, Johnny falls into their grip at just the point where it seems that he is about to rise above and truly escape from his troubled past.

Never one to do anything by halves, Johnny is soon throwing himself into drugs with the same energy and dedication that he once had for boxing.

The details of Johnny’s descent into drug addiction at the very point where his professional boxing career is hitting the heights is one of the more moving and frustrating aspects of this book. You find yourself both feeling sorry for Tapia, yet, wanting to shake him by the collar as well. At one point, due to his drug addiction, Johnny is banned from boxing indefinitely, and reduced to sleeping in parks and under bridges.

There is a saying that ‘behind every great man is a great woman,’ and that seems to ring true in Johnny’s case. Meeting his future wife, Teresa, proves to be a turning point in his life. She would prove to be the extra ingredient that gives at least a semblance of balance to Johnny’s life. However, balance for Johnny would be getting clean of drugs in the run-up to his fights, only to disappear for weeks after the match, as he is sucked once more into a drugged out haze. Johnny’s relationship with his wife is similar to his relationship with boxing. There is no doubt about his love for her, but he constantly stretches her patience and trust in ways that would certainly have made many other women run away in the opposite direction.  Again, as with boxing, and now in his relationship with his wife, Johnny‘s self-sabotage continues, trying to deny himself the stability and happiness which part of him feels he does not deserve.

Despite all of the manifestations of Johnny’s ‘dark side, Teresa sticks around, and there is little doubt that she saves both his life and his boxing career.

With the chaos of his private life, it is incredible that Tapia would win five world titles, losing just 5 times in his career. Three of those defeats came in the twilight of his career, when his out-of-the-ring lifestyle was finally catching up with his fighting skills. 

For all the misery and turmoil that Johnny recounts in this autobiography, there is no self-pity; he usually points the finger at himself no matter what the circumstances.  Even the murder of his mother is a source of great guilt for Johnny. This is a man searching for an understanding of his life, rather than looking for sympathy.

Johnny Tapia died on May 27, 2012, at just 45-years-old. After all of the overdoses and suicide attempts, he died of natural causes, when that big heart inside of him finally gave out. His death came just as he had completed filming a documentary on his life. Good as that documentary is, it doesn’t come close to the insight, and at times, overwhelming detail that can be found in “Mi Vida Loca.“ Written in 2006, when Johnny was still boxing, it is the closest you can get to the heart of Johnny Tapia.  It is a humorous, disturbing, and insightful look at one man’s struggle to survive in a world full of terrors and demons, of loss and tragedy, and how despite all of this, he still managed to achieve a greatness in the ring that can never be taken away from him. 

Amidst all the pain there was triumph, and in that triumph there is hope for many people. 

Johnny Tapia didn’t want pity. He wanted to inspire people to better themselves, to overcome life’s hardships just as he had, yet, not fall into the same traps that he did.  If he could overcome such a brutally dark background then others surely could as well.

‘I m still here because God wants to show people that there is something out there for them, that if you have courage and you want to do something with your life, if you want to resurrect yourself, then you can go for it.’ 

Johnny Tapia was immensely popular during his lifetime, even amongst people who had never met him. Those who did meet him describe a man who was hungry for love and attention, eager to please and help anyone, and a soft touch in many ways. Johnny Tapia may have  passed on, but for those who never got the chance to meet him, this harrowing and passionate book is the next best thing.

My only reservation with this book is the lack of any photos at all. It would have been nice to see photos of Johnny’s mother, family members, and of Johnny himself through the various stages of his life, both in and out of the ring. The absence of Johnny’s boxing record is also a regrettable oversight.  Despite these weaknesses, Johnny’s narrative is so vivid, that the absence of photos goes almost unnoticed by the reader. 
“Mi Vida Loca” leaves the reader feeling he has just shared a beer and a handshake with the man himself. 

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ad Wolgast: The Michigan Wild Cat

 By Peter Silkov

Ad Wolgast stands in boxing history as one of the bravest and toughest individuals to ever lace on a glove.  Nicknamed the “Michigan Wild Cat,” Wolgast lived up to his name as one of the wildest and ferocious of fighters, during an era when life was hard and boxers were altogether a harder and tougher breed when compared to the fighters of today. 

Born Adolphus Wolgast, on February 8, 1882, in Cadillac Michigan, Wolgast turned professional in 1906, and almost immediately began mowing through the lightweight class with an almost frightening violence. Wolgast quickly earned himself the reputation of an ultra-tough man of the ring at a time when boxing was over flowing with hard bitten tough guys.  However, Wolgast  took his toughness to almost hitherto unparalleled levels.  He seemed impervious to both pain and punishment, while at the same time, being able to dish out a devastating amount of punishment himself.  Wolgast had a good punch in both fists, and his body attacks alone could wreck a man. 

There was just one man in his division who could rival Wolgast in toughness and ferocity, and that was Battling Nelson.  It was fitting then that after fighting his way up the ranks of contenders, and leaving few standing in his wake, Wolgast eventually came face-to-face with Nelson in 1910 to battle for Nelson’s World lightweight crown.  The two men had actually fought a non-title 10-rounder the previous year, which Wolgast had won on points, but that fight was just a preliminary warm up compared to their world title fight on February 22, 1910.  The fight has been described as the most savage battle ever fought in modern times, and its mixture of violence and endurance is unrivalled in modern boxing history.  Both men did their best to tear each other to shreds for 40 rounds, before the referee finally stopped the contest in favour of Wolgast, with Nelson having been rendered helpless and blind by the beating he had endured, but still defiantly on his feet. 

Wolgast was to hold onto his world title for a little over two years, but there is little doubt that the war with Nelson left a permanent mark on him, and it is interesting to note that he would lose 3 of his next 5 fights, albeit in non-title bouts.

On November 28, 1912, Wolgast lost his World lightweight title to Willie Richie, when he was disqualified in the 16th round for a foul blow. It would be the beginning of a long slide downhill. During his peak years Wolgast had earned £240,000 from his fights and vaudeville appearances on stage, but as he stubbornly continued to fight on, despite an obvious slippage in form, Wolgast’s life began to fall apart.

After losing his title to Richie, Wolgast went a sad 19-25-10 in his final fights. 
The terrific punishment which he had absorbed in so many of his fights had taken a terrible toll, and in 1917 he was admitted to a sanatorium having suffered a mental breakdown.  Eventually he was discharged, but by then his wife was taking steps to divorce him and he soon found himself stripped of most of his assets.  Ad returned to the only thing he knew and continued fighting until September 6, 1920, when he was held to a 4-round draw by Lee Morrissey. 

By this time Ad’s mental decline had become so acute that he was put into the care of boxing promoter Jack Doyle, who housed Wolgast in a cottage on the  grounds of his house and allowed him to spend his days training in the gym that was just a few steps away from the little cottage.  Ad trained diligently everyday believing that he was getting ready for a comeback which would make him champion of the world once more.  Everyday Ad asked Doyle when was he going to get his fight, and every day Doyle answered ‘Tomorrow.’  Eventually in 1927, Wolgast became too much for Doyle to handle and was committed to the first of a number of mental institutions where he would spend the rest of his life.  The stories of Ad Wolgast’s final years are not pretty, he spent his final years still training for the fights that now existed only inside his battered mind, yet, his behaviour and illness apparently made him a easy target for many of the orderlies who were supposed to take care of him, and he is said to have endured frequent beatings. Ad Wolgast  passed away on April 14, 1955, leaving behind a story of triumph and glory won at a terrible price. Wolgast's final record was 59(40koes)-13-17 and newspaper decisiom record 22-21-6.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Book Review: Tony Zale: The Man of Steel

The Boxing Glove Sunday Night Book Review By Peter Silkov

"You receive far more from life by what you give, rather than what you get."

~Tony Zale 


 Most boxing fans are familiar with the life stories of Rocky Graziano and Jake Lamotta. Both boxers were World middleweight champions during the late 1940s at a time when the middleweight division was enjoying a golden era of great fighters and great fights. After their fighting days were over, each man would have successful autobiographies and films released about their lives and boxing careers. Graziano only had to wait until the mid-1950s to see both come to fruition. Yet, there was one man who missed out on the post-career acclaim afforded to both Graziano and Lamotta, and his name was Tony Zale. Zale was also a World middleweight champion during the 1940s, winning the title twice, being the first man to regain the title since the legendary Stanley Ketchel.  Despite this achievement, and a record that speaks for itself, Zale would not receive the same attention afforded to both Graziano and Lamotta.

Zale and Graziano are indelibly linked together by the three wars that they waged for the World middleweight title between the years 1946 to 1948. While Zale emerged from the trilogy the winner, with two victories out of the three fights, it was Graziano who would go on to enjoy a profitable post-fight career, being a regular fixture on tv, while Zale was to slip into the background, almost unnoticed, and forgotten.

Graziano was a loud, colourful and controversial character, whereas, Zale was a quiet, and reserved person outside of the ring; a man who preferred to do his talking with his fists inside a boxing ring, rather than try to gain attention for himself outside of it. As a result, while the legends of both Graziano and Lamotta have grown through the years, Tony Zale has in many ways become a forgotten champion, and when he is remembered, it is primarily because of his connection to Rocky, and their classic fights together, rather than his own individual boxing career, aside from his battles with Graziano.

However, after many years of anticipation, a new book, “Tony Zale: The Man of Steel” looks to redress the balance and finally bring back some long deserved recognition to “The Man of Steel.”

Written by Zale’s nephew, Thad Zale, and Clay Moyle, “Tony Zale: the Man of Steel” looks closely at the man behind the boxing gloves, resulting in an intimate biography that varies between recounting Zale’s exciting career within the ropes, to his personal life outside of the ring. This includes some moving, and at times, startling revelations about Tony’s private life which reveals the strength and integrity of his character as a man, not just a fighter.

The subtitle of this biography is “His toughest battles weren’t fought inside the ring” and as one delves into its pages, the reasons for such a subtitle becomes clear. 

Zale was born Anthony Zalezkie on May 29, 1913, in Gary, Indiana, of Polish stock. It is almost a cliché to say that a fighter had a hard upbringing, but Zale’s life was marked by tragedy early on when his father Josef died in a traffic accident when Tony was still an infant. The loss was made even more acute for Zale as his father died while riding his bike to the local pharmacy to buy medicine for a two-year old Tony, who was sick with measles and chicken pox. 

Losing his father at such a young age, and under such circumstances, might have been enough to push someone with less character off the rails and into a troubled childhood and adolescence. Yet, the Zale family was a strong unit, with a deeply held religious foundation, and led by Tony’s mother, Catherine, Zale and his six siblings pulled together in the coming years to keep the family together and put food on the table. It was the kind of attitude that was needed to survive, especially during the darkening years of the depression.

Instead of rebelling, or becoming a juvenile delinquent, Tony would play his part to help his family survive, and this search to improve the lives of his mother and siblings eventually led Tony to follow his older brothers and take up boxing, first as an amateur, then as a professional. Despite an impressive amateur mark of  over 200 fights, Zale's professional career started off with a false start, as from 1934 to 1935 he was mismanaged to a 17-9-1 record, and promptly retired for a time, and chose to earn his money in the hot hell of the Gary Indiana’s steel mills instead. Perhaps some of the steel of Gary’s infamous mills seeped into Tony’s skin, but the story of his return to the ring, and how he built himself up from just another struggling young fighter, into one of the world’s premier fighting machines, and eventually the Middleweight champion of the world, is one of the most fascinating aspects of this biography.

At his peak, Zale was a box-fighter, with one of the most deadly body attacks in the business. He was also a lionhearted fighter who was at his most dangerous when he was hurt. It says much for Zale’s pugilistic ability that he participated in his classic trilogy with the much younger Graziano when he was in his early 30s, having lost four of his peak years due to WW2. Zale’s fights with Graziano are only a part of his ring story. The battles that he went through in order to win the world title just before WW2 intervened upon his career are fully explored in this book.

The details of Zale’s fights are well recounted, and at times, you can almost feel his crunching left hooks to the body, and his right hooks to the head. Indeed, it is one of the almost typically perverse ironies of boxing that the first two Zale vs. Graziano contests were not filmed, although rumours of clandestinely filmed footage existing somewhere still surfaces every now and then. With this in mind, the detailed descriptions of all three fights between Zale and Graziano, and their build-ups and aftermaths, are especially welcome.

In addition to his fighting career, we also see how Zale’s private life with his first wife was disintegrating, even as he was thriving as world champion. The eventual demise of Zale’s first marriage, including the loss of custody of his two daughters, straight after the end of his boxing career, is a devastating blow from which the proud champion never fully recovered.  True to his character, Zale simply takes the blows and gets on with life the best he can, and furthermore, spends much of his time giving back to others. He spent much of his post-boxing life training youngsters, but would not only encourage their physical development, but also their mental development. He encouraged those that he encountered to complete their academic education at all costs, believing as he did, that a full education was a fundamental basis of success in life, and regretting his own abbreviated time at school.

As well as its detailed narrative, this biography is filled with numerous photos, most of them rare. In fact, the last 109 pages of “Tony Zale: the Man of Steel” are a collection of hundreds of photos from the Zale family collection, in addition to an index and Zale’s full fight-by-fight boxing record.

Both Thad Zale and Clay Moyle have lovingly put this book together, and the respect and affection, that the authors hold for their subject, is clear, at the same time,  does not overshadow the end product.

During my own journey as a lifelong follower and fan of boxing, I can remember first reading about Tony Zale at the age of about 8, and reading about how he emerged the overall winner from his three bloody wars with Rocky Graziano.  I would go on to read as much as I could about both of these fighters, and remember my puzzlement when I found so little literature on Zale, in comparison to that upon Graziano. In many ways, this is a boxing biography that I have been waiting for ever since I first read the name Tony Zale, as a wide-eyed eight-year old. Having finally read it almost 40 years later, I am happy to say that the wait has been worthwhile. This is a biography which I feel positive that the champion himself would have been proud. Much of it is bittersweet, Zale did not have an easy life, and there are some episodes within this book when you feel moved and disturbed upon Zale’s behalf.  However, what shines through the pages of this biography, most strongly, is the constant strength of character, which Zale exhibited, even in his lowest times. This man truly had a steely resolve not to give in to the blows of misfortune and fate, and faced the many ups and downs of life with the stoical determination with which he faced his opponents inside the boxing ring.

Despite this steeliness, Zale comes across as having a warm and gentler character beneath the external toughness. Tony Zale emerges from “Tony Zale: The Man Of Steel” as a champion in life, not just in the ring, which is perhaps the greatest compliment that can be bestowed upon anyone. Just like Zale himself, this biography packs a hefty punch, and I would regard it as a must read for anyone who is a serious boxing fan, and especially those who are fascinated by the great champions of Tony’s era, when the top fighters thought nothing of fighting on a monthly basis, and every weight division had just one world champion.  “Tony Zale: The Man Of Steel” not only portrays the life and fighting career of Tony Zale, but it also brings the reader back to an era in boxing that will probably never be seen within the sport again.

“Tony Zale: The Man of Steel” is out now, and can be purchased by either of the authors, or from Amazon.  Hopefully this biography will bring Zale back into the minds of today’s modern boxing fans, and he will be granted the kind of respect and recognition that for so long seemed to elude this iron man of years gone by.

You can order from the authors directly and also read more about Tony Zale's life on the website


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