A reader who liked The Champion’s New Clothes asked, “What other great books have a boxing background?”
I can’t think of many, but there are some. If I had to pick the best, it would probably be F.X. Toole’s story collection Rope Burns, which was reprinted with the title Million Dollar Baby. Toole was a cut man, and he gets every detail right.
If I had to choose the greatest boxing novel, I would be torn between Leonard Gardner’s Fat City and Eddie Muller’s The Distance. Budd Schulberg’s The Harder They Fall is good, as is W.C. Heinz’s The Professional.
To anyone who liked The Champion’s New Clothes, I recommend my story “What Goes On,” which is in Get Out As Early As You Can.
The Fighter (click here for my review) is by far the best boxing film I’ve seen. Other great ones are Champion, Body and Soul and Raging Bull. In the latter, though the fight scenes are sometimes cartoonish, the fighter’s-eye perspective when Robert De Niro is walking to his corner after knocking his opponent down, and sees the ring lights and the spectators, is the most accurate I’ve seen in any film. Girlfight is a great film, though its premise is absurd. Requiem for a Heavyweight, Somebody Up there Likes Me and Million Dollar Baby (the latter based on a story by F.X. Toole) are good.
That’s all I can think of, but I must be forgetting or missing some. What others should be on the list?