Larry Holmes: Against the Odds

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  • By Larry Holmes & Phil Berger
  • ISBN 031218736X
  • Format: Hardcover, 282pp
  • Pub. Date: September 1998
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press

From the Barnes & Noble site:

In Against the Odds, the reader will experience the uplifting odyssey that took Larry Holmes from a boxing nobody to a world champion. Holmes is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight champions of our time and held the title for more than seven years. But his ride to the top was hardly an easy one. His road to becoming the champion - from which he would net $40 million - was one requiring doggedness and extreme courage. In his time, the greatest heavyweight champions were men whose path was made for them. We are speaking of George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and Smokin' Joe Frazier, fighters, who won fame as Olympic gold medalists, attracted financial backers, and were accorded special treatment as young professionals. Larry Holmes, by contrast, was the equivalent of the outsider whose nose is pressed against the candy-store window. Yet despite being a seventh-grade dropout and routinely being treated by the boxing establishment as a body for other men to beat on, Holmes overcame a hard and impoverished childhood and the indifference of boxing's starmakers to become heavyweight champion, a title he held from 1978 to 1985.

Publishers Weekly
There could not be a more appropriate subtitle for this autobiography chronicling the rise of the man who was the heavyweight champion from 1978 to 1985. One of 12 children, Holmes and his family were moved from rural Georgia to Easton, Pa., by a father who then abandoned them to the most abysmal poverty. Holmes didn't have a chance to finish grammar school--he began work at 13--but while there he was introduced to wrestling and boxing. In 1968, at the age of 19, Holmes began to train as a boxer with Ernie Butler. A couple of years later, he had the good fortune to work as one of Muhammad Ali's sparring partners and the good sense to learn from him. In 1973, however, he had the misfortune to tie himself to Don King; eventually he would have to battle his manager for even 50% of his winnings. Holmes's portrait of the promoter is so devastating that readers may come to dislike King as much as Holmes does. Equally depressing are his observations about many other figures in boxing and the racism that still governs the sport. Despite all this, Holmes managed to draw on the lessons of his impoverished childhood: he saved enough money to buy and develop land in Easton, allowing him to live as a wealthy man. Berger (Smoking Joe) is adept at explaining Holmes's unwillingness to live with injustice (he once turned down a $30 million purse for boxing in South Africa) and his resolve to triumph over it. In a memoir that is by turns saddening and inspiring, Holmes comes across as a heroic American athlete. (Nov.)