Digging Deep: 21 of the Best Boxing Articles Around the Web

Best Boxing Articles

One of the most popular features of the Hannibal Boxing Newsletter, beyond the Hit Parade column written by Carlos Acevedo (author of Sporting Blood), is Acevedo’s monthly roundup of some the best boxing articles on the web. Below we have compiled links to twenty-one must-read articles from The Roundup. Enjoy.


Hector Camacho’s Vida Macho—by Paul Solotaroff, Men’s Journal

The last sordid years of Hector Camacho were documented by Paul Solotoroff not long after “Macho” was shot to death in Puerto Rico. One of the saddest tales of lost promise, the story of Camacho is dominated by dysfunction—right up to his free-for-all of a wake.

The Tragic life of Charles “Kid” McCoy—by Dawn Mitchell, IndyStar

Charles “Kid” McCoy, aka Norman Selby, is one of the enduring legends of boxing. And while some of his antics may be apocryphal—like so much in this formerly outlaw sport—McCoy lived a tumultuous life that hardly needed embellishment. Champion, murderer, suicide—his tragic story was retold by the Indianapolis Star a few years ago.

Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane—by Lona Manning, Quillette

For years, Rubin Carter was a cause celebre, drawing attention from Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, and George Lois, and highlighting the horrors of wrongful convictions. In 1999, Denzel Washington portrayed Carter in a fact-free Hollywood biopic that brought “The Hurricane” back into the spotlight. Recently Quillette asked the question few seem to want answered: was Carter actually guilty?

Knockout: In Boxing, Brain Damage Is the Goal—by W. Robert Graham, MD, Medpage Today

This jeremiad against boxing, written by Dr. W. Robert Graham, is unique because of its viewpoint: Graham tried his hand at boxing when he was a teenager, training at the same gym as George Foreman. “I hung out in boxing gyms. One such gym was on Louisiana Street in Houston. It was run by an ex-boxer named Shifty Dandio. When I was 16, he told me that he could make me a champion—for a price. I had a few boxing matches in the gym. In one, I fought a fellow who had just gotten out of the army. They said he was the middleweight champion in the army. He knocked me down three times in a three-round fight.”

Jim Beattie, Boxing’s Kid Galahad: A Minnesota Story That Got Away—by Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune

Best known for his eponymous role in The Great White Hope, James J. Beattie, whose boxing career was launched after he answered a newspaper ad, has died. Beattie was a marginally-talented heavyweight, but, as a character, he was all contender.

Gene Tunney and the Quality of Mercy—by Paul Beston, PaulBeston.com

Beating Jack Dempsey twice made Gene Tunney a rich man, but that did not endear him to a fickle public that had grown to dislike him. Neither did his bookishness or his crisp enunciation. Paul Beston, author of The Boxing Kings, looks at another factor that left the crowd uncertain: civility. In contrast to Dempsey, whose ferocity was legendary, Tunney was more cerebral and more humane. Ultimately, these two qualities were viewed as flaws for a heavyweight champion.

Fighting for their futures: boxing under a bridge in Mexico – in pictures
Photographs by Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images (curated by The Guardian)

Hoping to keep at-risk kids off the street has long been an ancillary goal of boxing gyms and trainers. In Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City that has recently earned a reputation for its grim crime profile. This photo essay from the Guardian focuses on a makeshift, open-air gym built by Miguel Angel Ramirez, a former soccer player now looking to make a difference in the lives of the potentially lost.

The Night Tex Cobb Saved My Life—by Pete Dexter, Deadspin

Novelist Pete Dexter (Deadwood, Paris Trout, The Paperboy) was once a hard-boiled newspaper columnist who occasionally wrote about boxing.  As part of a series of columns on the Larry Homes–Tex Cobb fight, Dexter recalled the night heavyweight hellraiser Cobb saved his life during a street brawl in Grays Ferry.

A South Florida Boxing Rivalry Leads to Cold-Blooded Murder—by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times

Sometimes, but not often, confrontations cannot be confined to the ring. In 2015, young Stan Staniclasse, 7-0, was murdered by Darrel Telisme, a sparring partner who took his beatings between the ropes personally. Tim Elfrink tells the tragic story of a sporting rivalry gone wrong.

Back From the Brink—by Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times

Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez was a rough-hewn welterweight contender during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  He lost two title fights to Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles, but was a popular draw in Los Angeles, fighting often at the Olympic Auditorium and winning a three-bout series against Hedgemon Lewis. One day, years after his career was over, he vanished, another casualty of boxing and its after-effects. When Lopez was voted into the California Hall of Fame in 2004, a search was launched to find him.

Beaten To the Draw—by William Nack, Sports Illustrated

In arguably his best performance, Pernell Whitaker neutralized Julio Cesar Chavez, then 87-0 (though he had been listed with a defeat in some earlier television appearances), throughout most of their pay-per-view extravaganza in San Antonio, Texas, only to wind up with a shameful draw for his efforts. William Nack reported on the controversy for Sports Illustrated in 1993.

The Mongoose—by Jack Murphy, The New Yorker (1961)

Rare was the New Yorker boxing piece not written by A. J. Liebling in the 1950s and 1960s. Here, Jack Murphy visits with the always-delightful Archie Moore for a personal portrait of “The Mongoose.” “I am a great sidewalk talker. I can talk Mexican-fashion, squatting on my heels, or big-city style, with my spine up against a lamppost or a building, or even garment-center technique, with my backside at the edge of a curb.”

How Rocky Graziano Became Boxing’s Greatest Muse—by Nathan Ward, Deadspin

The underrated cultural impact of Rocky Graziano is explored in this piece by Nathan Ward. “The Rock,” with his street corner sangfroid and Lower East Side cadence, was apparently some sort of influence on method actors and the Hollywood rebel figures of the 1950s.

Ali And His Entourage: Life After the End of the Greatest Show On Earth—by Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated

”What happened to the circus?”  Years after Muhammad Ali retired from the ring, Gary Smith asked that question.  Then, in 1988, he went out and answered it, tracking down the main characters of the rollicking Ali orbit, including Drew “Bundini” Brown and Dr. Ferdie Pacheco. The result is a stunning panoramic view of lives found, lost, and sometimes found again.

Don Elbaum and Boxing’s ‘Beautiful Sickness’ A Match Made In Heaven—by Dave Hannigan, The Irish Times

Don Elbaum, one of the legendary rascals of boxing, surprisingly found himself inducted into the IBHOF this year.  This profile from the Irish Times delves into the particulars of a boxing lifer who represents both the zany and the flimflam aspects of a fringe sport.

Deadly 1962 Boxing Match Leaves Open Wounds for Cuban American Family—by Luis F. Sánchez, The Miami Herald

Two years ago, the Miami Herald visited Luz “Lucy” Paret, a woman widowed by boxing.  She reminisced about her life with the ill-fated Benny Paret, killed in the ring in 1961. “I met him 60 years ago and he died. He was a man who made his living in a rough sport, but he had a generous heart. I don’t even know what made me fall in love with him.”  The casualties of boxing are not solely found between the ropes.

A Few Pearls of Wisdom from My Interview with the Great Archie Moore—by Mike Silver, Boxing Over Broadway

In 1983, Mike Silver spoke to Archie Moore, one of the all-time great fighters and a legendary chatterbox. This interview, from Boxing Over Broadway, reveals his keen intelligence and sheds light on some of the best fighters of his era.

The Boxing Ring with a Mezuzah on the Door—by Leah Feiger, Forward

More than seventy-five years have passed since the heyday of the Jewish fighter, but The Underground Gym in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, is a hot spot for Jewish amateurs and doubles as a community center. Leah Feiger from Forward visited the gym a few months ago.

Name of the Father—Tim Struby, Photography by Nils Ericson, Victory Journal

Son of a brutal mob enforcer, Jarrod Tillinghast turned to boxing for stability. Before long, however, the lure of the streets proved too much for him. Although Tillinghast was considered a hot prospect in New England when he turned pro in the mid-1990s, he could never dedicate himself to the sport that offered him a way out. Tim Struby recounts his story for Victory Journal.

Fat City, Fifty Years Later: An Interview with Leonard Gardner—by David Lida, The Paris Review

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Fat City, arguably the best boxing novel ever written, Leonard Gardner spoke to the Paris Review in a wide-ranging interview that covers the book, the film, and boxing in general. “I was not interested in a beautiful tourist spot,” Gardner says. “I never wanted to write about society people or something like that. I was interested in the rougher side of life. There’s something about struggling people, poor people, that’s dramatic. Struggle is dramatic. I’ve had friends who wrote pretty good novels about college boys and college professors. I didn’t dislike them. But it’s a matter of drama. For a lot of people, real life is a struggle.”

Shadow Boxing: Muhammad Ali Fought 50 Men. Only One Disappeared—by Wright Thompson, ESPN.com

For six years, Wright Thompson searched for Jimmy Robinson, who suffered a first-round KO at the hands of Muhammad Ali in 1961, without success. Like so many fighters who viewed boxing as a sustenance pursuit, Robinson had disappeared, his only hint of fame earned entirely in retrospect. In pursuit of a historical footnote, Thompson encounters a world of squalor and broken dreams.