Review: Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing by Carlos Acevedo

Award-winning boxing writer, Carlos Acevedo has given us a beautiful collection of essays highlighting the people, the events, and the complexities that make up the world of boxing.  Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing contains 20 essays dedicated to people from Muhammad Ali to Johnny Tapia to Mike Tyson to Eddie Machen and events like Wilfredo Gomez v. Lupe Pintor, the curious death of Sonny Liston, and the interestingly complicated relationship between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. 

Acevedo is an accomplished writer who weaves 20 individual stories into a cohesive narrative that captures the gruesome legacy of boxing.  At one point, Acevedo writes:

“At the core of these apocalyptic fights, where two men take turns punishing each other from round to round, lies the question of motivation.  Not in the sporting sense- that is, not in the careerist sense or anything so mundane as competition- but in an existential sense.”

This book contrasts the stark realities that were fights throughout the history of boxing:  some competitors were subject to extreme family violence, inherent poverty, juvenile delinquency, drug use, and incredibly physical and mental harm in the ring.  Writing about Wilfredo Gomez, the author denotes that Gomez’ career caught up to him in the present day.  A life of hard living, extreme physical punishment in the ring, drug and alcohol abuse have left him with a childlike persona and in need of assistance for daily tasks.

Acevedo has put together a compelling and masterful perspective on the darkest side of boxing.  With a foreword from award-winning author Thomas Hauser, this book is a must read for any boxing fan.

I would recommend this to students in Sport History courses, fans of boxing, and anyone looking for a richly sourced perspective on the history of boxing.

Sporting Blood is out now and can be found at most major retailers! 

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss+.