The Essential Reading & Watching List For Boxing Fans During Lockdown! | World Boxing Super Series
The Essential Reading & Watching List For Boxing Fans During Lockdown!

The Essential Reading & Watching List For Boxing Fans During Lockdown!

12th, April 2020

We asked boxers, journalists, WBSS staff and others in the sport to share with us their favourite boxing books and films for fans to enjoy while sport around the world is on hold.

Kalle Sauerland, WBSS Chief Boxing Officer

Books: Dark Trade (by Donald McRae, 2005), Behind the Mask: My Autobiography (by Tyson Fury, 2019), The Dark Destroyer: The Autobiography Of Nigel Benn (by Nigel Benn, 2017)


Peter Banke, WBSS Head of Media

Books: No Ordinary Joe (by Joe Calzaghe, 2007), Undisputed Truth (By Mike Ty-son, 2013): No Ordinary Joe is a nice, simple autobiography, and the father-trainer relationship between Enzo Calzaghe and Joe Calzaghe is fascinating – they made it work and never lost. Undisputed Truth is a must-read if you are a fan of Tyson.”

Films: Rocky (1976), Rocky Balboa (2006), The Great White Hype (1996): I have love for all the Rocky movies, even V, as this was the movie I invited my friends to watch on my 12th birthday, and afterward we went out and fought each other on the streets. Good times! The Great White Hype stars Pete Berg, today’s manager of Regis Prograis. I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, it’s satire is not dead on, but it’s a fun boxing parody and it’s healthy to laugh especially in these difficult times.


Tom Gray, Associate Editor at Ring Magazine

Books: Muhammad Ali – His Life & Times (by Thomas Hauser, 1991): “Unequivocally the best boxing book I’ve ever read. The rolling first-person accounts from those who were there during the key moments in Ali’s life, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s, make you feel like you’re actually there. Unmissable.”

Dark Trade (by Donald McRae, 2005): “A brilliant study of the hype, pizzazz and craziness that engulfed the sport during the 1990s. From Prince Naseem Hamed, Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn in the U.K. to James Toney, Roy Jones, Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya in the U.S. and plenty in between. The only problem you’ll have is putting it down.”

Serenity (by Ralph Wiley, 1989): “The late Ralph Wiley takes the reader through a plethora of fantastic fight tales involving some of the iconic figures in boxing history. Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Mike Ty-son all feature in a forgotten gem.”

Documentaries: Champions Forever (by Dimitri Logothetis, 2009): “The five-way rivalry between Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Norton and Holmes is covered over 90 minutes. Great soundtrack, great fight footage and great flashbacks to the times when these champions waged war. Includes interviews with all champions. The documentary that made me a hardcore fight fans. Amazing!”

Joe Louis – An American Hero Betrayed (2008): “HBO documentary follows Louis from his early beginnings, through the glory years and on to the IRS unmercifully chasing one of their greatest heroes for back taxes. As disconcerting as it is entertaining.”

‘Reputations’ Sugar Ray Robinson: An American Legend (1999): “The definitive documentary on arguably the greatest fighter that’s ever lived.”


Matt Christie, Boxing News Editor

Books: The Years of the Locust (by Jon Hotten): Always the first that springs to mind when I’m asked what is my favourite boxing book. Reads like a work of fiction but of course, it’s not. Exceptional writing from Hotten about the tragic relationship between heavyweight Tim Anderson and promoter Rick Parker.

From the Streets to the Ring: A Son’s Struggle to Become a Man (by Teddy Atlas): Teddy Atlas’ autobiography is as engrossing as life stories get. The violence that raged within Atlas is shocking and scary but always fascinating. A difficult book to put down.

Pictorial History of Boxing (by Nat Fleischer & Sam Andre): The first boxing book I ever bought, this should be in every fight fans’ collection. Exhaustively researched with irresistible photography and artwork, it’s the perfect starting point for anyone interested in the history of boxing.


Declan Taylor

Books: Dark Trade (by Don McRae): An absolute must-read for any boxing fan. Don McRae documents his encounters with legends like Mike Tyson, Prince Naseem Hamed and James Toney.

Four Kings (by Edward Kimball): A superb look at arguably the greatest quartet of fighting rivals in boxing history; Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran.

Road to Nowhere (by Tris Dixon): Former Boxing News editor Tris Dixon documents a remarkable journey around America on the hunt for some of boxing’s forgotten legends. Must-read.

Films: When We Were Kings: The story of the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Raging Bull: Martin Scorsese directs this adaptation of Jake LaMotta’s autobiography of the same name.

Journeyman: Bleak but essential viewing by British film legend Paddy Considine about how a fighter copes with a devastating brain injury.


John Dennen, Boxing News

Books: Shadow Box (by George Plimpton): My favourite boxing book, Plimpton’s writing is superb, funny too. His ‘participatory journalism’ sees him trying to spar Archie Moore, he was one of the great writers who followed Muhammad Ali’s career. If you haven’t read it you must.

Dark Trade (by Don McRae): McRae is one of the finest sportswriters working today. If you’ve already read ‘Dark Trade’, his most famous boxing book, ‘A Man’s World’ is a brilliant biography of Emile Griffith.

A Flame of Pure Fire (by Roger Kahn): Kahn expertly tells the story of the rise of Jack Dempsey through the 1920s, a remarkable life in a fascinating period of American history.


Kevin Mitchell, The Guardian

Books: Only In America: The Life and Crimes of Don King (by Jack Newfield, 1995): If you love boxing and hate the way it has been corrupted for decades, this is a must-read. Packed with detail and anecdotes, and even a few laughs.

Dark Trade, Lost In Boxing (by Donald McRae, 1996): Through the eyes of James Toney, and a few other great fighters, McRae, the Guardian’s award-winning sports interviewer, weaves a tale of the business that will keep you up all night. Was deservedly the ’96 Williams Hill Sports Book of the Year.
The Sweet Science (by AJ Liebling, 1956): A collection of his best essays on boxing, from Joe Louis to Rocky Marciano and in-between. Sports Illustrated called it, “the best American sports book of all time“. 
Films: The Set-Up, 1949: one of the great old classics, in black and white, about a washed-up fighter, convincingly played by Robert Ryan (who was heavyweight champion of Dartmouth College four years in a row). He refuses to throw a fight for the Mob, they leave him in a bloody heap outside the venue, called Dreamland, but his girl is still waiting for him. Corny, but incredibly moving – and it’s 72 minutes long, in real-time, which was very rare. It should have had a black boxer as the lead, according to the poet, Moncure March, who inspired the story with a poem he wrote in the 20s (and got only $1,000 for the film rights). But Hollywood was a different place back then.

Rocky: The best of the six (as well as two sequels) was the first. Sylvester Stallone just got it: all the right cliches in the right places, with some decent fight scenes, unbelievable storylines, predictable ups-and-downs, and a great score. Now there’s talk of a couple more and maybe a prequel. It’s the Star Wars of boxing movies. And impossible not to love.

Raging Bull, 1980: There’s no going past Martin Scorsese’s epic film of Jake LaMotta’s crazy life, from throwing a fight for the Mob gamblers to get a world title shot, through his wars with Sugar Ray Robinson and on to finishing as a late-life celeb – thanks to this movie. Robert DeNiro got as fit as a fiddle then ballooned for the sad ending, and will forever be remembered for the moving closing scenes, practising his lines in front of a bathroom mirror in a near-empty bar, long after he’d retired. “I coulda been a contender,” he mumbles – the start of the famous monologue written for Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront nearly 30 years earlier. Art meets boxing – and wins.


Paul Zanon, author of several boxing biographies

Books: Rocky Marciano (by Everett M. Skehan, 1977): One of my favourite boxing book is the biography of Rocky Marciano, beautifully crafted by Everett M. Skehan. It’s as close to an autobiography you are going to get about The Rock and it flows like water.

Films: ‘The Rocky’s’ (1976-2006), Raging Bull (1980), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1965): I can’t put my finger on just one boxing movie. I’m a sucker for Rocky II … or Maybe Rocky I … perhaps Rocky III. Okay – let’s say the Rocky’s. Raging Bull is sensational (Jake La Motta story) and Somebody Up There Likes Me (Rocky Graziano life story) is a must-see.


Rob Tebbutt, Head Of Content at Boxing Social

Books: Dark Trade (by Donald McRae, 2005), Crown of Thorns (by Norman Giller, 1996), Muhammad Ali: His Life & Times (by Thomas Hauser, 1991)

Films: Raging Bull (1980), The Great White Hype (1996)

Documentaries: Unforgivable Blackness (Ken Burns, 2004), When We Were Kings (Leon Gast, 1996)


Doug Fischer, RING Magazine Editor

Books: Blood Season: Mike Tyson and the World of Boxing, Only In America: The Life and Crimes of Don King, Dark Trade

Films: The Harder They Fall, Requiem for a Heavyweight, When We Were Kings.


Mairis Briedis, WBSS Cruiserweight finalist

Book*: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari, 2011)

*Briedis’ book recommendation is not about boxing, but we can make exceptions for WBSS finalists!


Craig Stephen, multiple time WBSS ring announcer

Books: A Boxing Dynasty: The Tommy Gilmour Story (by Robert Jeffrey, 2007): A book close to my heart (I’m about to read it again) is the Tommy Gilmour Story. My first promoter. 3rd generation boxing, Grandfather boxed & promoted, father was a top promoter. Tommy owned the St Andrews Sporting Club, the World’s oldest private members boxing club, until recently.

Film: The Pyramid Texts (2015): I’m fortunate to call actor James Cosmo a friend. He played Lord Jeor Mormont on Game of Thrones amongst many more things. The film that he is most proud of is The Pyramid Texts, a boxing film. It has never had a general theatre release but is available on iTunes & Google Play. It’s fantastic.


Tuukka Koistinen, multiple time WBSS ring announcer

Books: Muhammad Ali – His Life & Times (by Thomas Hauser, 1991), My View from the Corner: A Life in Boxing (by Angelo Dundee & Bert Sugar, 2007)

Films: The Boxer (1997): Then of course the Rocky movies. The first one is a masterpiece.


Ray Flores, multiple WBSS ring announcer

Films: Raging Bull (1980), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Creed (2015), Creed 2 (2018), The Fighter (2010)


KGZ Fougstedt, official WBSS photographer

Films: Raging Bull (1980), Rocky III (1982), Ali (2001)