This stylishly written, meticulously researched and richly illustrated book chronicles the history of heavyweight boxing through the lives of its champions, among them: the 18th-century Englishmen who battled bare fist, often in secret locations, backed by aristocratic patrons; the American John L Sullivan, last bare knuckle and first gloved champion - an eccentric drunk who would 'lick any man in the house' as long as their skin was white; Jack Dempsey, whose ferocious aggression attracted the first $1 million gate and Joe Louis, whose 11-year reign was viewed first as a triumph for black America and then as an American triumph; Rocky Marciano, who went through his entire career without defeat and, of course, Muhammad Ali, a man who rose above his own sport and all sport. And from there to the dark and brutal Mike Tyson - a figure hovering between triumph and tragedy - and the enigmatic Lennox Lewis, a champion who retired before it was too late. This is the story of the world heavyweight title-holders, men who have often risen from impoverished beginnings to achieve fame and fortune through the power and artistry of their fists.
It is a story not just of fights and fighters, but of what made them into fighting men, of what became of them when their bodies could no longer answer the call, and of the times in which they lived in and the passions and prejudices that moulded their world.
Gavin Evans is a celebrated broadcaster, author and journalist who regularly contributes to boxing's premier magazine THE RING and THE TIMES. His memoir, DANCING SHOES IS DEAD, was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction. He was born in London, grew up in Cape Town, where he first tried his hand at boxing, and now lives in North London.