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Tex Rickard: Boxing's Greatest Promoter…

Tex Rickard: Boxing's Greatest Promoter

by Colleen Aycock

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Showing 5 of 5
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This begins with a brief overview of the history of boxing and then a brief overview of Rickard's career, but it comes into its own when it picks up a straightforward chronological account of his career. The early part -- his successes and failures as a gambler/saloonkeeper in the Alaskan gold rush and the cattle buisness --are much less well known than his later career as a boxing promoter. Even within boxing, his first big fight promotion, with the first African-American lightweight champion Joe Gans against the white Battling Nelson is much less known than his later promotions -- Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion versus the retired white champion James Jeffries, Jack Dempsey versus Joe Willard in Toledo, Jack Dempsey versus Gene Tunney twice, the second being the infamous "long count." There is also his role in promoting boxing in two incarnations of Madison Square Garden, first the Sanford White-designed building and then his own much bigger one. Although the account is strongly admiring, it does include his various legal problems -- a accusation of molesting a teenage girl, of which he was acquitted, various lawsuits over fight profits, and the temporary loss of his boxing promotion license in New York State for his failure to arrange a title bout between Dempsey and the capable African-American challenger Harry Wills. This raises the question of race which recurs through the book --he went well beyond current racial feelings of many white Americans of the time in arranging bouts for Gans and Johnson, but it is suggested that the intensely hostile white reaction to Johnson's victory over Jeffries may have left Rickard reluctant to stage another interracial bout. The book concludes with Rickard's sudden death in Florida in January, 1929. It is fair to say, as the book does, that Tex died "at the top of his game" though whether his ambitious plans would have survived the 1929 crash is very doubtful. ( )
  antiquary | Dec 21, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There's plenty of action in this biography of Tex Rickard, boxing promoter extraordinaire, as it seems everything happened to him.

His career, from Alaskan vagabond to Madison Square Garden tycoon, is an adventurous tale, often depicted as if he was a western pulp hero.

Of greater interest is the secondary story which weaves throughout the book -- it is the history of the prizefighting business itself. Readers are treated to a ringside seat of a collection of notable boxing matches which Rickard promoted.

Here's where the real action begins, and it's brutal. The play-by-play descriptions of yesterday's champs being bruised, cut and beaten are exciting. However, within the well-written fighting bouts, there are several nonlinear sentences which tangle together various timelines and names, causing the narrative to be somewhat repetitive.

Nevertheless, even with its flaws, a sports enthusiast will enjoy this book for its realistic, no-holds-barred portrayal of the boxing world. ( )
  jazznoir | Jul 28, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Interesting biography of a boxing promoter who helped generalized the sport to the masses. I don't have that much interest in boxing, but I found myself fascinated by the stories of Rickard's achievements.

My biggest concern with the book was the writing. While the overall book was presented chronologically, individual sections (or even paragraphs) would jump between multiple points of time. As a result, it was difficult keeping things straight, and more than once did a person have to be introduced multiple times.

If you can overlook the writing flaws, this is worth a read if you're interested in sports. ( )
  ryan.adams | Jul 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love biographies. This is a biography. I love history. This is a history. I don't know anything about boxing. This is about boxing. A biography about a man who became the premier boxing promoter - and brought boxing into the mainstream of American entertainment at the beginning of the 20th century. From the first page of the Introduction, I was captivated. Colleen Ayecock and Mark Scott have written a book that brings the reader into the world of Tex Rickard. The reader travels with him through his life: from his birth in 1870 in Kansas (or was it Missouri? records were spotty back then!); he begins as a cattle man, herding cattle in some of the last great cattle drives of the west; we follow him to the Klondike where he earned his first fortunes opening gambling saloons in the mining towns (it was here he earned a life long reputation for being a "straight shooter" and "square dealer") during the Canadian gold rush - to Nevada where he promoted his first great boxing matches - and on through a life in which he not only had a midastouch but a personal character that was trusted and admired.
It is not only Tex Rickard the reader gets to know, but the history of boxing in the United States. The reader learns about the boxers, personal promoters, referees, and financial supporters of the ring.
As a person who has never liked boxing, I have become fascinated with the sport. I have learned enough to make me curious to watch a few match-ups.
I believe that anyone who reads this book will learn about a part of US history not known by many. Besides that, it is an entertaining book that supports the tru-ism: truth is more entertaining than fiction!
P.S. You can watch many of the fights discussed in the book on YouTube! The fights are filmed 100 years ago so there is no sound and the picture quality isn't very good, but you can see the people and places discussed and this brings the stories into such a clear and bright light! ( )
  PallanDavid | Jul 7, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Tex Rickard led a remarkable life, from a saloon operator in the Klondike to a cattle rancher in Paraguay to operating Madison Square Garden. This book is both concise and very descriptive, which lends a visual air to the story. This is a must read for any serious boxing fan. ( )
  mrmapcase | Jul 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786465913, Paperback)

Whether opening saloons, raising cattle, or promoting sporting events, George Lewis "Tex" Rickard (1870-1929) possessed a drive to be the best. After an early career as a cowboy and Texas sheriff, Rickard pioneered the largest ranch in South America, built a series of profitable saloons in the Klondike and Nevada gold rushes, and turned boxing into a million-dollar sport. As "the Father of Madison Square Garden," he promoted over 200 fights, including some of the most notable of the 20th century: the "Longest Fight," the "Great White Hope," fight, and the famous "Long Count" fight. Along the way, he rubbed shoulders with some of history's most renowned figures, including Teddy Roosevelt, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, John Ringling, Jack Dempsey, and Gene Tunney. This detailed biography chronicles Rickard's colorful life and his critical role in the evolution of boxing from a minor sport to a modern spectacle.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:27 -0400)

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