John J. Raspanti

Review: Hauser book ‘And the New …’ is a compelling read

Every year Thomas Hauser publishes a compilation of his writings on the sport he loves: professional boxing. What makes Hauser’s stories so extraordinary is that the man many consider “The Dean of Boxing Writers” refuses to allow his admiration for the sport blind him to its dark side.

Hauser is the author of 43 books, perhaps best known for his definitive biography of the greatest fighter of his generation, Muhammad Ali. Hauser’s annual volumes on boxing have become required reading for hardcore and casual fans alike.

His latest, And the New …: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing, is a hodgepodge of history, politics, tributes, and tales of those who make prizefighting so interesting.  

Highlights of his book include a fascinating look at Henry Jackson Jr., known to the world as Henry Armstrong, the only fighter in history to hold three world titles simultaneously (featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight). Hauser tells the story of Armstrong’s rise, fall, and rebirth with compassion and understanding. The author is clearly determined to make sure that the great fighters of the past are not forgotten.

Hauser obviously admires the practitioners of what many call the most brutal sport in America. His examination of “Irish” Micky Ward is entertaining but thought-provoking. In another chapter, he writes eloquently about the rematch between Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto. He delves into the politics and behind-the-scenes infighting at HBO, telling the reader almost more than he or she needs to know about the cable giant.

His reflections on his friendship with the first boxer he ever featured in one of his books, Billy Costello, are touching. Hauser has the ability to turn a simple sentence into something special.

He concludes his book with a look at the parallel lives of Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley. Anyone who is old enough to remember the impact that Ali and Presley had on American culture will enjoy his retelling of the history of the times.

And the New is 235 pages of journalism at its best. Hauser has added yet another classic story collection to the boxing bookshelf.

Around the web