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The Boxer’s Story: Fighting for My Life in the Nazi Camps By Nathan Shapow with Bob Harris

Release date: 16th August, 2019
Publisher: Biteback Publishing

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £16.99
You Save: £3.01 (15%)
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First published in hardback in 2013, Nathan Shapow’s The Box¬er’s Sto¬ry: Fight¬ing for My Life in the Nazi Camps, co-authored by sports¬writer Bob Har¬ris, is now available in paperback .

The press release accompanying the book calls it “an extraordinary and powerful true story that reads like a thriller. It will deeply affect everyone who reads it.” Ordinarily, such releases can be ignored; not this one.

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1921, Shapow was a pre-war boxing champion, but his sporting ambitions were put on hold once the Nazis captured his home town in July 1941. At the time, around 40,000 Jews lived in the city, but through the summer of 1941 an estimated 11,000 were murdered. In November the same year, Shapow was part of a group of strong, younger men shipped to a forced labour camp.

Extremely fit following years of phys¬i¬cal train¬ing as a box¬er and swim¬mer, Shapow drew the atten-tion of the camp’s first lieutenant, Ober¬sturm¬fuhrer Hoff¬man, who sin¬gled him out for spe¬cial tor-ture. Assum¬ing he was likely to be shot at any time, Shapow attack¬ed and subsequently mur¬dered Hoff¬man, a crime he kept secret for six decades.

The next time a sportsman or woman mentions being under extreme pressure, consider what the author was compelled to do under his watchful captors’ eyes. He was forced to box for his life against sturdy German opponents on three separate occasions, encounters from which he emerged victorious thanks to years of training, running, speed work and a sheer bloody-minded spirit: characteristics that saved him from certain death.

The book focuses primarily upon the role that phys¬i¬cal train¬ing played in Shapow’s sur¬vival, but it also reveals the efforts by various Jew¬ish groups to build under¬ground bunkers, acquire arms and estab¬lish con¬tact with Red Army par¬ti¬sans.

Following the ‘liquidation’ of Riga’s Jewish Ghetto in Novem¬ber 1943, Shapow was trans¬ferred to a series of oth¬er Nazi con¬cen¬tra¬tion camps includ¬ing Kaiser¬wald, Spilve, and Stutthof. He was lib¬er-at¬ed by the US Army in April 1945 following the surrender of the Nazis at the slave labour camp at Magde¬burg .

After the war he went to Palestine, where he fought for the creation of Israel, moving to California with his wife and family in 1960.

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