Fight (Penguin Modern Classics)

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9780141041841: Fight (Penguin Modern Classics)

In 1975, at the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire, Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the two men made boxing history in an explosive meeting of two great minds, two iron wills and two monumental egos.

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Review:

There are sporting events that transcend the world of sports, and the 1974 heavyweight title fight in which Muhammad Ali regained his crown by improbably kayoing George Foreman in the middle of the African night was certainly one of them. Metaphorically, it was a writer's dream: two imposing black warriors, one all grace, the other brute force, one the iconoclast, the other the blind patriot, battling each other. Fatefully, the appropriate writer threw his pen into the ring. Norman Mailer's masterful account goes far beyond the ropes to capture the primal ethos of the sport, the larger social canvas this particular fight was drawn on, and the remarkable cast of personalities--not the least of which is Mailer himself--who converged to make this "Rumble in the Jungle" a landmark in sports history and a clear knockout in Mailer's journalistic portfolio.

From the Back Cover:

"Entertaining... Mailer continues his familiar shadow-boxing with the ineffable." -- Time

In 1975 in Kinshasa, Zaire, at the virtual center of Africa, two African American boxers were paid five million dollars apiece to fight each other until one was declared winner. One was Muhammad Ali, the aging but irrepressible "professor of boxing" who vowed to reclaim the championship he had lost. The other was George Foreman, who was as taciturn as Ali was voluble and who kept his hands in his pockets "the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case." Observing them was Norman Mailer, whose grasp of the titanic battle's feints and stratagems -- and whose sensitivity to their deeper symbolism -- make this book a masterpiece of the literature of sport.

Whether he is analyzing the fighters' moves, interpreting their characters, or weighing their competing claims on the African and American souls, Mailer is a commentator of unparalleled energy, acumen, and audacity -- and surely one of the few intrepid enough to accompany Ali on a late-night run through the bush. In The Fight he restores our tarnished notions of heroism to a blinding gleam -- and establishes himself as a champion in his own right.

"An admirable entertainment.... This book recalls one to a sense of how delicate an ironist, and how serious a reporter, Mailer is." -- Saturday Review

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