The best books for any fan of boxing

Mark Allen Baker Author Of The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876-1937
By Mark Allen Baker

Who am I?

Having written over twenty-five books, including ten books on boxing, I have been involved with the sport through my work as a historian for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I also sit on the Board of Directors Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame and have penned biographies on five members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. My name is Mark Allen Baker, and I am a historian and award-winning author.


I wrote...

The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876-1937

By Mark Allen Baker,

Book cover of The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876-1937

What is my book about?

For six decades, the World Colored Heavyweight Championship was a useful tool of racial oppression--the existence of the title far more important to the white public than its succession of champions. It took some extraordinary individuals, most notably Jack Johnson, to challenge "the color line" in the ring, although the title and the black fighters who contended for it continued until the reign of Joe Louis a generation later. This history traces the advent and demise of the Championship, the stories of the 28 professional athletes who won it, and the demarcation of the color line both in and out of the ring.

The books I picked & why

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On Boxing

By Joyce Carol Oates,

Book cover of On Boxing

Why this book?

This gifted author I have yet to meet but do hope our paths will cross before the final bell. Oates published her first book in 1963, and has since published over 50 novels, several plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. Her novels Black Water (1992), What I Lived For (1994), and Blonde (2000), and her short story collections The Wheel of Love (1970) and Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories (2014) were each a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her personal, yet insightful, view of the sport will resonate with every fan of the sweet science.

On Boxing

By Joyce Carol Oates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Boxing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joyce Carol Oates explores the world of professional boxing, examining the subject from many angles: boxing as metaphor, spectacle and history, boxing as seen in literature and film and by women. The author chronicles many famous figures such as Jack Dempsey, Barry McGuigan, Joe Louis and others. She also looks beyond the ring at the links between violence and racism and at how boxing vindicates disenfranchised youth. Joyce Carol Oates is also author of the novel "Marya: A Life".


Tunney: Boxing's Brainiest Champ and His Upset of the Great Jack Dempsey

By Jack Cavanaugh,

Book cover of Tunney: Boxing's Brainiest Champ and His Upset of the Great Jack Dempsey

Why this book?

Among the legendary athletes of the 1920s, the unquestioned halcyon days of sports, stands Gene Tunney, the boxer who upset Jack Dempsey in spectacular fashion, notched a 77—1 record as a prizefighter, and later avenged his sole setback (to a fearless and highly unorthodox fighter named Harry Greb). Yet within a few years of retiring from the ring, Tunney willingly receded into the background. To this day, Gene Tunney’s name is most often recognized only in conjunction with his epic “long count” second bout with Dempsey. Living nearly half his life in the state of Connecticut, Mr. Tunney was the first boxer I ever corresponded with. Author Jack Cavanaugh, also from Connecticut, crafts this priceless book.

Tunney: Boxing's Brainiest Champ and His Upset of the Great Jack Dempsey

By Jack Cavanaugh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tunney as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Among the legendary athletes of the 1920s, the unquestioned halcyon days of sports, stands Gene Tunney, the boxer who upset Jack Dempsey in spectacular fashion, notched a 77—1 record as a prizefighter, and later avenged his sole setback (to a fearless and highly unorthodox fighter named Harry Greb). Yet within a few years of retiring from the ring, Tunney willingly receded into the background, renouncing the image of jock celebrity that became the stock in trade of so many of his contemporaries. To this day, Gene Tunney’s name is most often recognized only in conjunction with his epic “long count”…


The First Black Boxing Champions: Essays on Fighters of the 1800s to the 1920s

By Colleen Aycock (editor), Mark Scott (editor),

Book cover of The First Black Boxing Champions: Essays on Fighters of the 1800s to the 1920s

Why this book?

This volume presents fifteen chapters of biography of African American and black champions and challengers of the early prize ring. They range from Tom Molineaux, a slave who won freedom and fame in the ring in the early 1800s; to Joe Gans, the first African American world champion; to the flamboyant Jack Johnson, deemed such a threat to white society that the film of his defeat of former champion and "Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries was banned across much of the country. Aycock and Scott construct a vivid and unambiguous view of the sport which is often forgotten. A gifted and prolific author, Aycock has also produced masterful works on Max Baer, Joe Gans, and Tex Rickard.

The First Black Boxing Champions: Essays on Fighters of the 1800s to the 1920s

By Colleen Aycock (editor), Mark Scott (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The First Black Boxing Champions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume presents fifteen chapters of biography of African American and black champions and challengers of the early prize ring. They range from Tom Molineaux, a slave who won freedom and fame in the ring in the early 1800s; to Joe Gans, the first African American world champion; to the flamboyant Jack Johnson, deemed such a threat to white society that film of his defeat of former champion and "Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries was banned across much of the country. Photographs, period drawings, cartoons, and fight posters enhance the biographies. Round-by-round coverage of select historic fights is included, as…


Sam Langford: Boxing's Greatest Uncrowned Champion

By Clay Moyle,

Book cover of Sam Langford: Boxing's Greatest Uncrowned Champion

Why this book?

Standing no more than five feet, seven inches; tall, Sam Langford was one of the 20th century's greatest fighters. In this biography, his life story is told in great and entertaining detail. Sam was a great black prizefighter in an era when the color line was easily cited by white opponents wanting to avoid meeting him in the ring. The Ring magazine editor Nat Fleischer ranked Langford among his favorites, stating, "Sam possessed strength, agility, cleverness, hitting power, a good thinking cap, and an abundance of courage. He feared no one." This comprehensive biography brings to light Sam Langford's remarkable talents and life thanks to author Clay Moyle. Having known Moyle for years, I can speak to his passion for the sport and his commitment to quality.


Sam Langford: Boxing's Greatest Uncrowned Champion

By Clay Moyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sam Langford as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A compelling and thorough biography of the great Sam Langford.
Standing no more than 5’ 7” tall, Sam Langford was one of the 20th century’s greatest fighters. In 1951, the great featherweight champion Abe Attell was asked if Sugar Ray Robinson was the best of all time, either as a welterweight or middleweight. He named Stanley Ketchel as the greatest welterweight he’d ever seen and said that, as for the middleweights, he’d take Sam Langford, “the greatest of them all at that poundage.”
Remarkably, the man Attell felt was the greatest middleweight fighter in history fought and defeated many of…


Boxing's Greatest Fighters

By Bert Randolph Sugar,

Book cover of Boxing's Greatest Fighters

Why this book?

"Who was/is the best...?" Perhaps in no sport is the question more asked and argued over than in boxing. And in boxing perhaps none is more qualified to answer the question than Bert Randolph Sugar. And while some fans may express outrage that Rocky Marciano barely makes the top twenty, and Marvin Hagler staggers into the top seventy-five, others will nod eagerly when they read that Harry Greb and Benny Leonard were better than just about anybody. Every fight fan on the planet, and maybe other planets as well, is familiar with the work of this prolific pugilistic pundit whose publications not only inform but entertain as well. Yep, it was Bert who put the Sugar in the sweet science!

Boxing's Greatest Fighters

By Bert Randolph Sugar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boxing's Greatest Fighters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Easily the most enduring of all sports questions is "Who was/is the best . . . ?" Perhaps in no sport is the question more asked and argued over than in boxing. And in boxing perhaps none is more qualified to answer the question than Bert Randolph Sugar.In Boxing's Greatest Fighters, not only does the former publisher of Ring Magazine tell us who the best fighters were, he lists them in order.Could Sugar Ray Robinson have beaten Muhammad Ali? Could Sugar Ray Leonard have beaten Sonny Liston? The answer, most experts agree, would be "no." But what if, as Bert…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in boxing, the Boxer Rebellion, and Canada?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about boxing, the Boxer Rebellion, and Canada.

Boxing Explore 21 books about boxing
The Boxer Rebellion Explore 8 books about the Boxer Rebellion
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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