Best Boxing Books Reviewed and Rated For Informative Content

We all love books—especially the ones about our favorite sports or hobbies. Books not only boost your brain power, they also offer insight and a change of perspective on whatever topic may interest you. They can inspire and motivate you, and propel you to achieve things you never thought you could. People like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates swear on the books they’ve read as a key factor in their success. Books do more than just tell a story. That’s why we think that whether you’re a beginner of the sport or a seasoned veteran, reading boxing books is essentially as important as getting yourself into the Octagon every day. In a sport that’s as elegant as boxing, it’s no surprise that there are many books that are able to convey both the beauty and the legacy of the art of combat.

 

Featured Recommendation

Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson
  • Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Life-changing Autobiography
  • Topic of Poverty
  • Price: See Here
Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig
  • Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Uncovered Documents
  • 2018 PEN/ESPN Award
  • Price: See Here
Championship Fighting
  • Championship Fighting
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Techniques
  • Teach Yourself
  • Price: See Here

 

So, whether you’re looking to gain an in-depth understanding of the sport or simply want to have a good read about your favorite hobby, we’ve got you covered with the best boxing books of the year. All of these books are truly something; they either tell the magnificent tale of legends or provide a glimpse into what puts boxing in a class of its own. They describe the history as well as the future of boxing and make references to some of the key moments that have set the foundation for our current thrills. When you’re truly interested in something, it’s normal to want to develop a keen understanding of its every aspect. With these 10 boxing books, you’ll be able to read through the noteworthy fights, to the dramatic life stories of the heroes who have inspired the world—including you.

 

 

10 Best Boxing Books

 

 

1. Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson

Undeniably one of the must-reads for every boxer and boxing fan. Even if you’ve never boxed in your life, reading Undisputed Truths will ignite a new found fire that will grow your interest in the sport. This book is about how one of the greatest in boxing has gone through stereotypes, controversy, and obstacles to come out on top. After reading this book, no matter how hard you fall, you’ll get right back up with more willpower and determination than ever before.
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Life-changing Autobiography
There’s almost no one who’s had a greater story to tell than Mike Tyson. From how he started his career in a ring at 18, to how he fell into drugs, alcohol, and bankruptcy, this is a story about Tyson and his stand against himself and the world that resulted in recovery and redemption. Even though it’s an autobiography, it’s wonderfully written and has all the gripping elements: humor, sadness, insight, tragedy—you name it. It’s been regarded as one of the best and most honest autobiographies ever written, to the point where it’s more than an autobiography: it’s an experience.

Topic of Poverty
We all hear about those who are privileged enough to put to use what they’re given, but Tyson’s story starts in a dysfunctional household where he had nothing. Stories like these convince us that there’s more to success than just money. Anyone with Tyson’s mental attitude and determination could break free of whatever financial chains they think are confining them. Tyson’s honesty and the sordid story leaves no details out.

Cost and Value

This is a book you can buy for the cost of an everyday lunch. Although the hardcover will cost you a bit more than necessary, anyone can get the paperback at an astoundingly low price. We can’t recommend this book enough to anyone— no matter what your age or life situation, and whether you box or not. This is a life changing book for a value that’s affordable for anyone.
Pros

Honest Autobiography

Painful Experiences

Has All Literary Elements

New York Times Best Seller

Recommended by WSJ

Cons

Lackluster Conclusion

2. Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig

A tale as old as time. This famous story of Muhammad Ali told by Jonathan Eig touches on elements of bravery, wit, and greatness— principles that should be key to every single boxer. Not only was Ali the most famous man on the planet, he got there through sheer determination and vigorous willpower in a segregated city of Louisville. Reading this will reveal a new light on not only boxing, but politics, religion, and courage. This is the best biography written on Muhammad Ali up to date, uncovering many if not hundreds of interviews and audiotapes—and it will surely leave you breathless.
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Uncovered Documents
In this biography, over 500 of Ali’s interviews along with thousands of his unreleased files are examined and shown through Eig’s writing. Together, they tell the story of Ali through his mishaps and his victory. They tell about the greatness but also the flaw and uncertainty that Ali had to thrive from.

2018 PEN/ESPN Award

This prestigious award was given to this biography not long ago to praise the ingenious in crafting a vivid, up-close tale of one of boxing’s greats. According to T.J Stiles, the author of books such as The First Tycoon, “Ali will fascinate you from beginning to end.”

Cost and Value
Ali, being newly published and only recently awarded by both PEN and Times Sports for Biography of the Year, will certainly be listed at a higher price than usual. Even so, we recommend anyone who’s a big fan of one of the greatest men that ever lived to add this book to their collection, without a second of doubt.
Pros

Over 500 Interviews

FBI Inside Documents

NY Best Seller Author

2018 PEN/ESPN Award

Times Sports Biography of the Year

Cons

Doesn’t Tell Recent Life

Cheap-looking Hardcover

3. Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey

One of the must-reads for any serious competitive boxer. Championship Fighting is a book that focuses its scope on the realities of boxing and techniques that have given Jack Dempsey, one of the all-time greats, unparalleled success on and off the boxing ring. This book touches in depth all the key things, from training and application to specific techniques such as stance, footwork, and defense. Over a hundred years of vital lessons are packed into this one book, and, whether an amateur or a pro, you will definitely improve by reading it.
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Techniques
Many techniques not covered in boxing are brought to light in Championship Fighting. Not only does Dempsey reveal useful methods that have brought him to championship boxing, he shows the reader how techniques such as aggressive punches and proper defense should be applied.

Teach Yourself
There’s no excuse to not pick up boxing because you don’t live near a gym or you don’t have enough time and money. This book is completely affordable to anyone and it covers all the basic fundamentals along with advanced techniques to the “rawest beginner” so they can get a firm starting point on their journey.

Cost and Value
It won’t cost you much, that’s for sure. The paperback and hardback versions of this book are all extremely affordable and provide more than necessary for anyone wanting to increase both their knowledge and collection in boxing. Championship Fighting is a book that will certainly keep you entertained while helping you reach your maximum potential.
Pros

Hundreds of Techniques

Written by Boxer

For Beginners and Professionals

Self-teach Manual

Cons

Only Covers Certain Elements

4. The Fight by Norman Mailer

4. The Fight by Norman Mailer
Both Muhammad Ali and George Foreman are specifically highlighted in this key featured book about two dangerous men who are larger than life and show it in the boxing ring. Mailer’s assertive prose suits the topic perfectly and really adds emphasis to a tale told as aggressive and breathless. The build-up leading up to the fight, which is the main climax, does well to prepare the reader for one of the most inherently suspenseful and exciting events in boxing history. If you’re looking to learn more about the legacy these two men have placed in the history of boxing, The Fight is your go-to book.
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Mailer’s View
During the fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, a restless commentator named Norman Mailer observed and told the story with compelling energy and unparalleled audacity. He, the author, was there to analyze every move and thought leading up to the fight along with the fight itself, and he perfectly describes it in his book The Fight. Mailer has become known for one of the most influential men in the twentieth century, winning a Pulitzer for his novel The Executioner’s Song.

Proper Memoir
Although this book is mostly about the two audacious fighters, Ali and Foreman, it also acts as a proper memoir for Norman Mailer, a man who also left his stamp in both the world and in boxing. Mailer, who was sent to cover the great fight in 1974, uses his engaging writing to perfectly sum the fight from his own view—making it as if the reader experiences the fight in-person.

Cost and Value
The price for such a well-established and noteworthy book will certainly be a bit more than usual. Norman Mailer is an author who has changed the world for the better, and we’re so very lucky that boxing has gotten one of his better works. This literary memoir about two refined men that were driven to fight like gods is, according to the New York Times, “as exciting as the reality in which it was based.”
Pros

About Two Legends

NY Times Best Seller

Dramatic and Influencing Tale

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Cons

Biased Perspective

5. Four Kings by George Kimball

5. Four Kings by George Kimball
If two legends weren’t enough, how about four kings? These four fighters, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hit Man Hearns, and Roberto Duran are exceptional boxers who have made their names well-known in boxing history. This book by Kimball highlights their rivalry and fuel throughout the 1980s—notably known as the golden age of boxing. Anyone looking to learn more about the legends who have set the foundation for the sport should read Four Kings.
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Accurate Information
Kimball, who was a veteran sports journalist at the time, witnessed first-hand the compelling and majesty that went on in the rivalries between the four fighters. His accounts of the fight are told as “riveting” and “palpably rendered” by sport journals such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. In an era where the best boxing occurred, many have tried to past down the tale to our generation, but only men like Kimball have done it accurately and cunningly.

Nat Fleischer Award

Kimball is also the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism—given in 1985. His contribution to the sport has been remembered by the Boxing Writers Association of America and he will forever go down as one of the best reporters, covering nearly 400 world-title fights.

Cost and Value
This is definitely a pricey book, but it gives such a thrilling and compelling take about an era of boxing that had four super fighters that the price should be overlooked. From childhood to their end, Kimball highlights the most important events from a first-person perspective. His book, Four Kings, has been called one of the finest sports books ever written. It does, however, have a great volume of information that may not all appeal to an audience of non-boxing fans.
Pros

Psychological Drama

Four Key Boxers

The Golden Era of Boxing

Accurate Information

Cons

Plethora of Information

6. The Sweet Science by A.J Liebling

6. The Sweet Science by A.J Liebling
The Sweet Science is another masterpiece that brings boxing to life in the vividness that it deserves. The book most notably focuses on Sugar Ray Johnson, especially in his heyday and tracks his progress on route to making history. Liebling thrillingly evokes an atmosphere in his writing that makes it seem like you were in the ring with Johnson. Many other names are also famously mentioned in The Sweet Science, and it’ll appeal to anyone interested in boxing’s prestigious history.
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Best American Sports Book
Sports Illustrated was prompted to name The Sweet Science as The best American Sports Book of all time, quite an established feat. Through a plethora of praise, The Sweet Science has lived up to its expectations as being a book that can change lives.

Liebling’s Style
Liebling brings something to the table in terms of prose that not all writers can muster. His vivid description of the life and fights in The Sweet Science is widely regarded as a “human take” on the professionalism of boxing. Although his writing may be too wordy for some, his rendering of details is what brings this book to life and makes it an enjoyable read.

Cost and Value

The book is naturally moderately priced, with the hardcover ranging a fair bit above what we think is realistic. It is, however, a thick book that’ll keep you invested for a good amount of time, but we don’t think the cover is elegant enough to justify a hardcover buy.
Pros

Backdoor Stories

Brilliant Style

Laconic Approach

Favored Reportage

Sports Illustrated Award

Cons

Very Wordy

Expensive Hardcover

7. Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey C. Ward

7. Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey C. Ward
Another compelling read, Unforgivable Blackness is a vivid biography about the most celebrated boxer of his age—Jack Johnson. Johnson was also a victim of poverty and grief but became a legend by battling his way through obstacles that tried to chain him down. He lived in a world where segregation was triumphant and managed to find success and fortune within it. The story of Johnson is simply an “embodiment of American individualism” and we’re begging anyone who’s interested in heavyweight history to read it.
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Well-researched Biography
Not only is this biography engaging and will keep you up at night, it is well-researched by Geoffrey C. Ward. Ward creates a vivid picture of Johnson, from his morality to his personality. Ward gets it all right through vigorous research and engrossing textual detail to project a deep and colorful portrayal of Jack Johnson’s tale.

Individualism

Not only is Johnson, one of boxing’s legends, discussed in this biography. It also keenly touches on the topics of individualism, racism, and morality as Jack battles through forced prison and even exile. You’ll get much more out of Unforgivable Blackness than you think, and it’s a book that’ll leave you both speechless and wanting more.

Cost and Value

Although the paperback can be expensive, that’s no reason to turn down a chance to relive the history of a legend in boxing. Because it provides an excellent and engrossing portrayal of not only Johnson but also African American life, this book is worth every penny.
Pros

Topic of Individualism

Well Researched

Enlightening Biography

National Book Critics Circle Award

Cons

Third-person Perception

8. The Last Great Fight by Joe Layden

8. The Last Great Fight by Joe Layden
Another phenomenal book about the biggest upset in the history of boxing. The Last Great Fight by Joe Layden talks about heavyweight champion Mike Tyson during his 1990 run of success. With included interviews with Tyson, his family, and his children—as well as the referee— there’s nothing you’ll be missing from the compelling tale of redemption.
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First-Person Interviews
Joe Layden, who’s not only a best-seller but an award-winning journalist, took the time to interview members of Tyson and Douglas’s family, their children, and even the referee. He also covered professional boxing during the height of Tyson’s reign and knows everything there is to know about the historic tale of tragedy and redemption. His full-access to interviews with fighters and research has allowed him to meticulously recreate Tyson’s era.

Douglas v. Tyson
This historic fight that may go down as one of the biggest comebacks in boxing history is covered excessively in The Last Great Fight. All the way to the 10th round, Douglas and Tyson both fought courageously until only one would stand. The narrative structure that surrounds the fight is what showcases Layden’s ability to highlight one of the most intensive moments in modern sport.

Cost and Value
The cost of The Last Great Fight ranges a bit more expensive than other books. Unless you’re specifically interested in the story of Tyson and Douglas, we would recommend saving money and checking out other books that cover a wider range of the history of boxing.
Pros

Enlightening Discussion

Douglas v. Tyson Fight

Elements of Blockbuster

In-depth and Researched

Cons

Expensive Paperback

9. Facing Ali by Stephen Brunt

9. Facing Ali by Stephen Brunt
Another well-written book about the Greatest there has ever lived. Brunt tells the story from the perspective of over fifteen different fighters who have all described what it was like to face Muhammad Ali in the ring, one on one. Each fighter has something unique to bring to the table, and the result is a vivid story about the most recognizable man in the 20th century.
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Fifteen Perspectives
Although the book surrounds Ali, it also mainly focuses on the other fighters—the fifteen who have shown bravery and courage to step into the ring with the unstoppable force. Brunt characterizes all the experiences, lives, and mindsets of these individuals to create a different take on an athlete who’s already had hundreds of books written on him. Stephen Brunt has creatively inspired a unique approach to Ali’s legacy, and we’re all enthralled by the product.

Insightful Chapters
Although the book is divided for every fighter, you’ll find that there’s insight in many of the chapters and there will be some fighters whom you’ll relate to more than others. There may be some fighters that you’ll hate, and some that you’ll love. These are the benefits of having fifteen unique perspectives to reflect an interesting approach to Muhammad Ali.

Cost and Value

As said by many other reviewers, this book is a true masterpiece. However, unless you’re a diehard boxing fan who has followed the sport for generations, we wouldn’t recommend starting with it. It’s a great book for the price of adding it to your collection, but if you don’t know any of the names or what they signify, you may get bored quick.
Pros

Great Detail

Fifteen Unique Perspectives

Exclusive Interviews

Brilliant New Insight

Cons

Not for Casual Fans

10. Dark Trade by Donald McRae

10. Dark Trade by Donald McRae
Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing is an enthralling tale about most of the entire history of boxing and its fighters. This absolute encyclopedia will help you grasp what you need to know about what makes boxing a man’s obsession, going through topics such as the lives of James Tony, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, and more. It’s quite a long read, but the excruciating amount of detail will help you uncover the truth behind the dark corners of boxing.
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Literary Memoirs
It’s rare to find a boxing book cover so many fighters in a series of well-written literary memoirs that capture every little detail about their lives. Dark Trade successfully emulates the background story of the sport with thrilling ringside tales and strong ambitions. All the fighters captured by McRae are given the same amount of attention as they pursue the noble art of boxing.

William Hill Sports Book of the Year

The efforts of Donald McRae are properly awarded as this book won many prizes including Book of the Year from William Hill. These accomplishments are signified by the book’s heavy attention to accurate information and unusual detail. The author’s tremendous amount of research paid off nicely in his finished product, as Dark Trade is definitely one of the staples in modern boxing literature.

Cost and Value
Because of the limited availability in this book, its price can be seen as excruciatingly expensive, but we still think you should consider adding this one to your collection, as it does well to portray the entire history of boxing from cover to cover. The stories you read here will change your view on professional boxing as well as the fighters whose stories were brought to light.
Pros

WIlliam Hill Award

Vastly Descriptive

Encyclopedia of Boxing History

Literary Memoirs

Cons

Very Expensive

Limited Availability

 

 

Criteria for Evaluating The Best Boxing Books

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Although there are plenty of choices in boxing books, you never know what will suit your taste the best. From self-help books to biographies and autobiographies, everyone will have books they enjoy and books they simply want to skip. Here are a few things to think about when choosing what may be the most enjoyable boxing book that’ll keep you up for nights on end.

Type of Book

Like we’ve mentioned, there are many different types of book genres—and this is especially relevant for boxing books. It’s wrong to sort all boxing books into a “sports” or “boxing” category because there’s simply much more to it than that. There are different types of sub-genres within every book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Here are a few of the genres you might come across in the books we’ve listed above:

  • Autobiography: An autobiography is a self-written account of a person’s own life. Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson is one of the most notable autobiographies in the field of boxing, although there are several other titles that should be considered such as Unbeaten by Mike Stanton and Cinderella Man by Jeremy Schaap. Autobiographies are often superior because they account for first-person experiences where the writer can share their own genuine thoughts to the next generation. Much of what happens in the mind of boxers is often misinterpreted through biographies or tales. Autobiographies are the best way to get accurate, accounted information about a certain boxer’s life or fight.
  • Biography: Biographies are simply a detailed description of someone’s life. Many biographies have been written about boxers—most notably about Muhammad Ali. Biographies are often written by reporters or journalists who have had first-hand experience on certain fights or interviews by the boxer. Many famous commentators that covered famous fighters or fights have since become successful authors by writing biographies.
  • Memoir: A memoir is a collection of memories written by an individual about his life. Whether it is factual or not is up to the reader, as the account is from the writer’s personal knowledge and perspective. A famous memoir is The Fight by Norman Mailer as it covers not only boxing but his own personal life and memories as a commentator for the great fight between Ali and Foreman.
  • Self-help: Many people read boxing books to familiarize themselves with the historical accounts of boxing, but there are some who want to either improve their boxing technique or improve their mental endurance. Books are phenomenal for this, since they can provide valuable lessons and can be read over and over again, so the material is never lost. A famous self-help boxing book is Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey, simply because of how it has helped a number of amateur and professional boxers as well as provide a starting point for countless beginners to start their boxing career.
  • Categorical: Many books are divided into sections of short stories to tell an overall tale. Some boxing books use this same format to divide different types of fights or fighters throughout history. This will give you a broad range of knowledge about different boxers and the famous fights they’ve gone through, but won’t go in-depth in any of the events.
  • Fight: Some books cover only one fight, such as The Fight by Norman Mailer and The Last Great Fight by Layden. These are often great for those who are really interested in a specific fight, especially the build-up, the fighters, their backstories, and the fight itself. These books are often recognized for how well they describe the fights as if the reader is actually there within the ring in-person.

Digital vs. Print

In this modern age of technology, there’s more than one way to read a book. Now, with the help of Kindles, iPads, and smartphones, you don’t have to worry about losing your book, ever—and you can bring your reading to wherever you are. Ebooks are the new way to enjoy all your favorite literature, but that doesn’t mean you should completely look overprint. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each way to enjoy your boxing books.

  • Ebooks: Digital books found in apps or Kindles are great for a number of reasons. For one, manufacturers don’t need to cut down trees and use supplies to produce millions of copies per book, reducing the overall price of the digital book. Ebooks also take up less space, as you don’t need to invest in a bookshelf or library room just to maintain your collection. They also can’t be damaged or lost so you’ll have a book with you for life. In addition, ebooks are also portable, so you can bring it on the bus, train, car—anywhere without hassle.
  • Print: Printed books are becoming more obscure, but they’re still an extremely valued form of literature. Printed books aren’t going anywhere—like their counterpart, print newspapers—because of how genuine and accessible they are. Books are among one of the most affordable and convenient forms of entertainment and knowledge in the world, as bookstores are still flourishing in the 21st century. Physical books are great because they can be easily shared, and are easier to read as studies suggest reading from print allows for 25% more reading comprehension and speed.
  • PDF: Depending on the book, there are a few that you can find for free legally through uploaded PDFs. PDFs can be viewed on a browser and are a great way for authors to share their books online without digital or printed selling.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

best-boxing-books-faq

Q: What types of boxing books are there?
A: There are several different types of sub-genres among non-fiction and fictional literature, which are: autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, and self-help books. These are some of the most common types found in boxing.

Q: Where are the best places to buy boxing books?
A: Although buying online and digitally are methods always at your disposal, it’s always a good idea to stop by a community
run bookstore or library. In order to keep bookstores and libraries alive, they need your help.

Q: What is a PDF book?
A: PDFs are a portable document format book, which is uploaded for free by either the author or the publisher. PDFs are different because they’re free to the world, to be read or printed.

Sources

  1. Ryan Murphy , The Greatest Boxing Matches of All Time, Mar 03, 2017
  2. Lyle Fitzsimmons, Boxing Summer Reading List: 10 Books Every Fan Must Read, Jun 04, 2013
  3. Goodreads, Best Books on Boxing and Boxers , Dec 12, 2014