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The Mad and the Bad Boxing Tales of Murder, Madness and Mayhem By Thomas Myler

Release date: 09th June, 2018
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £12.99
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Dublin-based boxing historian and author Thomas Myler proved in his last book, Boxing’s Hall of Shame, that he knows his way around the fight game and in The Mad and the Bad, he presents a dozen bite-sized portraits of boxing’s toughest characters that successfully whet the appetite and leave the reader wanting more.

Myler introduces us to fighters such as ‘Two Ton’ Tony Galento, whose idea of training consisted of downing half a dozen chickens with a plate of spaghetti, washed down with “half a gallon of red wine or beer, often both.”

Then there’s Roberto Duran, the archetypal hard man, who hailed from the backstreets of Panama and recognised that if it wasn’t for boxing, he’d either be in prison or dead.

Many of the featured boxers have similar backgrounds.

Rocky Graziano, for instance, was a Brooklyn-born petty thief who spent time in prison, but successfully turned his life around in the ring. Not as though he was one for ringcraft: his all-action style wowed the crowds and his three brutal world middleweight title fights against Tony Zale, the ‘Man of Steel’ from Gary, Indiana, “remain among the most thrilling ring battles of all time.”

Myler regularly goes ‘off-piste’ and introduces a number of supporting characters to his pacey narrative, boxers such as Al ‘Bummy’ Davis, “a roughhouse fighter and villain,” gunned down by a gang as he tried to prevent them robbing a bar.

Then there’s Irishman Tom Sharkey, just 5ft 8ins tall, but “one of the toughest heavyweights in the business”. Prior to fighting eight-times married conman Kid McCoy (that’s not a typo), Sharkey twice fought James J Jeffries over an incredible 25 rounds, the second bout described as “one of the fiercest fights in ring history”.

If there’s a common theme to The Mad and the Bad, it’s the realisation many of the featured boxers have that the sport offers them a form of freedom, an escape from a life of petty (and in some cases heavy duty) crime. Myler manages to squeeze plenty in to his short portraits. Don’t be surprised if one or more of them turn into fully-fledged biographies.

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