|A Photo of the Martial Arts Book on a Corner of my Bookshelf|
One, life goes even without nightly workouts. I like going to the dojo and I missed it. I also like staying home and reading. All things in their season.
I read two books that focused on Mohammed Ali, American history, and boxing. King of the World and What's my Name, Fool?. What's my Name, Fool? by David Zirin is a highly political (radical left perspective), amateurishly written, and only for those who want to know about sports and political and social history in America. I read it cover to cover and enjoyed it. The idea of sports stars as rich role-models, which we take for granted today, is less than a hundred years old. One of his views is that sports gives the poor a chance at stardom either directly or vicariously which conceals how exploitative and destructive the system is to the masses. An extreme view. In contrast, King of the World by David Remnick is great and is my pick of the group. If you are only going to read one book, you should read Remnicks. It covers both Ali's amazing history and our own amazing national history as the two unfold together. Note that some of it is the same history covered by Zirin but Remnick is a better more-balanced writer. Rrankly, the truth is so strange, there's no need to exaggerate.
Rope Burns is a collection of short stories by F. X. Toole, one of which is the basis of the hit Clint Eastwood film: Million Dollar Baby. The stories show the sordid side of boxing; the corruption, the has-beens and never-weres, the trainers, and the overall sad pattern of exploitation, disappointed dreams, scams, cheats, fixed matches, and life-wrecking injuries. It's very well-written and painful to read. I think I finished it but reluctently.
On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates. She is considered a great literary writer and the book is considered the classic book on boxing. If she wasn't, I'd be tempted to say that the book was written with an excess of the romantic and metaphoric and psychological. It's a series of essays by someone in love with boxing both for it's own sake and for what it represents. Much talk of the "primal nature of two near naked men fighting before a chearing crowd"; the fact that boxers ultimately are fighting against a mirror image of themselves (ie all struggles are internal); that writers and boxers train in private but ultimately, display their finished product in public for either humiliation or vindication; and that fighters, like all men, strive to be viral potent men but that in the end, we all fail and die and are forgotten.
A Fighter's Heart by Sam Sheridan is "One Man's Journey through the World of Fighting." Sam joined the marines after high school then went to Harvard, graduating in 1998. He trains in the muay thai camps in Thailand, works on his BJJ in Rio, and trains MMA in the US. He's an extremist who even spends time checking out illegal dog fighting in the US to see if their concept of heart is the same as for human fighters.
Becoming the Natural by Randy Couture, I haven't read yet.