Sunday, April 24, 2016

TBG Book Review: Ring Battles of the Century by Gilbert Odd

The Boxing Glove Sunday Night Book Review

Review by Peter Silkov

“Ring Battles Of The Century  By Gilbert E. Odd.

This week I am reviewing one of the classic boxing books, “Ring Battles of the Century” by Gilbert E. Odd.  First published in 1948, this book contains a varied selection of fights, which in Odd’s opinion, were worthy of the description of being a ring ‘battle of the century.’

Ever since boxing first gained popularity, right back in the days when it was fought to a finish with bare fists, one of the most fascinating aspects of boxing, for its followers, was to recall outstanding matches of the past.  As boxing’s history has grown, so its wealth of ‘classic’ fights of the past has grown with it. 

Gilbert Odd was already recognized by 1948 as one of Britain’s premier authorities on boxing.  He had started writing about boxing for the newspaper Boxing (later to be known as Boxing News), and at just 18 years old and by 1941, he was installed as the paper’s editor, a post he kept until 1951.  In “Ring Battles of The Century,” Odd brings together a collection of fights from the 1910s, to the 1940s. Given the age of the book, many of these fights are now forgotten by today’s generation.  This book is a fascinating insight back into a time when boxing was a much more intense and difficult profession.  This was a time when fighters often fought every week and to gain a title was a much more difficult achievement than it is today.

Included in this book are some fighters that current boxing fans might find familiar, such as Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Graziano, Benny lynch, Henry Armstrong, and Jimmy Wilde.  There are also greats of yesteryear in this book, whose names have been largely forgotten today.  Men like Len Harvey, Jack Peterson, Peter Kane, Eric Boon, Mickey Walker, Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis, and Jim Driscoll.

In recalling each of the 22 fights that are featured in his book, Odd builds up the background for us in each match, placing it in context of both fighters’ careers at that point in time. The reader is given some fascinating insights into both men’s build up to their climatic showdowns.  The fights themselves are described in great detail, along with every thrill, controversy, and twist or turn.

The boxing matches inside this book include Jack Dempsey’s classic brawl with the giant Luis Angel Firpo, which saw Firpo floored over half a dozen times, and Dempsey punched out of the ring.  Joe Louis is featured in his famous defence of his World heavyweight title against Britain’s Tommy Farr.  Benny Lynch’s classic war with London rival Peter Kane is another highlight.  Then there are the exciting scraps between Teddy Baldock against Alf ’Kid’ Pattenden, Tony Zale against Rocky Graziano at Yankee Stadium, and Gus Lesnevich against Freddie Mills. 

The 22 fights in this book don’t offer a dull moment from start to finish.  One thing that comes through in this book, is that many of these contests if they took place today, would have been stopped much sooner.  This was a time when referees were usually unwilling to stop a fight, unless it was warranted by one of the contestants taking a truly terrible amount of punishment. 

Ring Battles of The Century is a rare insight into some of the great fights of the last century, when boxing was far more interwoven with every day life and its champions were house hold names.  Gilbert Odd takes us to a time when boxing was still one of the most popular sports world wide, a time which unfortunately will probably never be recaptured.

*The book contains many photographs, the photos on this page are not from the book. 

*Book available at Abe Books and Amazon:

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to

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