This Boxing Game: A Study in Beautiful Brutality

Pitch. Nov. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781785316272. $32.95. SPORTS
According to journalist Wight, the first of countless attempts to ban boxing was made around 500 CE by Italy’s Theodoric the Great, King of the Ostrogoths because it disfigured the face, which he believed was created in God’s image. One estimate by the Independent places the number of boxers who have not just been disfigured or suffered brain damage but died from ring injuries at 500 since the late 19th century. Yet the sport not only endures but remains popular, and Wight seeks to explain why. He takes us back and forth between his native Edinburgh and Hollywood, his adopted home, weaving his own experiences in boxing (working extensively under noted trainer Freddie Roach) with commentaries on the history, sociology, and psychology of the sport. He also offers accounts of the sport’s greatest champions as well as fighters who never realized their dreams of fame, concluding that boxing exemplifies “courage, artistry and brutality in equal measures...straddles the line between nobility and barbarity,” and that men box “to face and triumph over their fears, discovering in the act what it is to be truly alive.”
VERDICT For both boxing fans and those casually interested in the sport, this is a knockout.
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