Picks and Pans Review: Writer's Fighters and Other Sweet Scientists

updated 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Schulian

Schulian, a Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist, has been fascinated by boxing since he first heard about the old trainer who used to shine his flashlight on illegal immigrants sneaking in from Mexico. "Ever fight?" he'd ask them. The pieces collected here, on pugs ranging from Muhammad Ali to a local club fighter in Las Cruces, N.Mex., are in the literate tradition of such boxing writers as A.J. Liebling and Red Smith. They are smartly observed, stylishly written and, by turns, moralistic and elegaic. Schulian points out that trainer Gil Clancy left his fighter Willie Classen dying from a knockout in New York, while he tooted to Minneapolis and Vegas to do TV color commentary. On the other hand, he is moved by featherweight Davey Moore's last words to opposing trainer Angelo Dundee in 1963, just before descending into a fatal coma: "Angie, you're gonna give me a rematch, ain'tcha?" You don't have to be a fight fan to appreciate this book. (Andrews & McMeel, $15; paper, $8.95)

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