Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ali vs. Spinks I

I try to read a few sports a year.  Some of you may recall that this summer I read The Outsider, the recently published memoir of tennis star Jimmy Connors.  Today I added a new book to my sports reading list: John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro's One Punch from the Promised Land: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title. Like many Americans, I first became fans of the Spinks brothers when they won gold medals for the incredible 1976 U.S. Olympic boxing team in Montreal.  Sugar Ray Leonard, Howard Davis, and Leo Randolph also won gold medals that year.  Leon Spinks defeated the Cuban great Sixto Soria in the light-heavyweight division.  "Big John" Tate was knocked out by the Cuban legend Teofilo Stevenson in the semifinals of the heavyweight division but went on to win the bronze medal.

I must admit that I was rooting for Muhammad Ali when he faced Leon Spinks for the heavyweight title in 1978, this despite the that Ali was out of shape and looking old.

Here is a taste of the Amazon book description:

It was 1976 when Leon and Michael Spinks first punched their way into America’s living rooms. That year, they became the first brothers to win Olympic gold in the same Games. Shortly thereafter, they became the first brothers to win the heavyweight title: Leon toppled The Greatest, Muhammad Ali; Michael beat the unbeatable Larry Holmes. With a cast of characters that includes Ali, Holmes, Mike Tyson, Gerry Cooney, Dwight Qawi, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and dozens of friends, relatives, and boxing figures, ONE PUNCH FROM THE PROMISED LAND tells the unlikely story of the Spinks brothers. Their rise from the Pruitt-Igoe housing disaster. Their divergent paths of success. And their relationship with America. The book also uncovers stories never before made public: the big paydays, the high living, the backroom deals. It’s not afraid to tackle an issue rarely discussed: Does the heavyweight title deliver on its promise to young men in the inner city? This is the definitive story of Leon and Michael Spinks. And a cross-examination of heavyweight boxing in 20th century America.

HT: The Daily Dish