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.
- Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson
- Life-changing Autobiography
- Topic of Poverty
- Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig
- Uncovered Documents
- 2018 PEN/ESPN Award
- Championship Fighting
- Teach Yourself
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
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.
Has All Literary Elements
New York Times Best Seller
Recommended by WSJ
2. Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig
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.
Over 500 Interviews
FBI Inside Documents
NY Best Seller Author
2018 PEN/ESPN Award
Times Sports Biography of the Year
Doesn’t Tell Recent Life
3. Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey
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.
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.
Hundreds of Techniques
Written by Boxer
For Beginners and Professionals
Only Covers Certain Elements
4. The Fight by Norman Mailer
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.
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.”
About Two Legends
NY Times Best Seller
Dramatic and Influencing Tale
Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
5. Four Kings by George Kimball
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.
Four Key Boxers
The Golden Era of Boxing
Plethora of Information
6. The Sweet Science by A.J Liebling
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 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.
Sports Illustrated Award
7. Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey C. Ward
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.
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.
Topic of Individualism
National Book Critics Circle Award
8. The Last Great Fight by Joe Layden
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.
Douglas v. Tyson Fight
Elements of Blockbuster
In-depth and Researched
9. Facing Ali by Stephen Brunt
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.
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.
Fifteen Unique Perspectives
Brilliant New Insight
Not for Casual Fans
10. Dark Trade by Donald McRae
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.
WIlliam Hill Award
Encyclopedia of Boxing History
Criteria for Evaluating The Best Boxing Books
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
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.