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Summary

For three decades at the end of the 20th century - throughout boxing's most engrossing era - James Lawton was ringside, covering every significant bout, spending time with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hitman Hearns, Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and many other great fighters.

Lawton found himself captivated by the sport as he followed it around the world. From a big fight's initial announcement, through the fighters' punishing training regimes, the overblown press conferences and dramatic weigh-ins, up to the bout itself and its savage fall-out - Lawton observed and absorbed it all, grateful for the remarkable access he was afforded. He witnessed Ali screaming in pain for his dressing-room lights to be turned out after a fight; he was there to meet Tyson at the prison gates on his release in 1992; he listened as former champions wept while struggling to find their new place in the world. As part of a small, tight-knit group of sportswriters with the privilege of covering each fight in such intimate detail, Lawton formed lifelong friendships and found himself forever altered by being caught up in the whirlwind of a sport at its most spellbinding.

A Ringside Affair brings that brilliant epoch back to life - and puts it in the perspective it deserves. It salutes the epic quality of boxing's last years of glory, retraces arguably the richest inheritance bequeathed to any sport, and speculates on the possibility that we will never see such fighting again. It is part celebration, part lament, but perhaps most of all it is a personal record of some of most enthralling and challenging days produced by the world's oldest sport.

©2017 James Lawton (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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  • ML
  • 09-05-21

Excellent and informative read

Provided a great insight into a great period of boxing history. Even though I lived through it at the time, this book provided fascinating details I never realised and the story knitted together very well.

I’m torn on the narration. Each time the narrator would read a direct quote from a boxer, he would do so in the style of the boxer. E.g. Tyson with a lisp, Frank Bruno with his distinctive style etc. Part of me felt it was cringeworthy, but another part of me thought it helped differentiate between the author’s words and those of the fighters.

Nevertheless, an excellent book and highly recommended.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great account well read

I think Tim Bentinck does a great job of reading this, conveying the personality of the narrator, the many challenging other voices - and carrying the drama and pathos.

This is an engaging account of 20 years of the biggest fights in boxing. Lawton was a great journo, whom I used to read in the Independent - sometimes a daily column on any sport you like, he had a deep understanding of so many. He brings a great turn of phrase and a fair-eyed, unpeevish moral compass to some of the highs and the many lows of this period of the sport.

It’s also just a very enjoyable, evocative listen.

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  • HK
  • 23-12-18

An affair letdown by slightly dull narration

James Lawton's reflections on his favourite sport is one book that would greatly benefit from the author's narration. Alas, his passing means this could not and will not be, unfortunately the narrator's flat retelling does not do the material justice.

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Very enjoyable

Very enjoyable but sadly there were one or two mistakes.
Highly recommended for any Boxing fans.

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  • Philo
  • 11-10-19

Good boxing journalism, of an eventful time

The author is nimble with words and ideas, which elevates this past a mere blow-by-blow. Of course he sensationalizes at moments, but rises above that, at turns. He views the practitioners and contests as heroic and/or tragic, on a sort of mythic level, without losing sight of the very mundane events of this brutal sport and its day-in, day-out minutiae for those immersed in it. Brutality and grace, it is all here, and told with grace. The author was in the thick of it, with all the participants. It focuses on a time when I was last strongly focused on this sport. The author is a Brit, so having a Brit narrator is suitable, but it may strike US fans as a bit odd. But sadly, the imitations of interview voices (such as those of boxers or managers) are awful. I realize the narrator needed to change voice a bit to set off a quote from the surrounding text, but these are over the top. It takes a bit of concentration to ignore this and hear what, say, a Thomas Hearns was actually saying. All in all though, I find it worth it.