Read One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing by Katherine Dunn Online


Published together for the first time, this anthology of essays on boxing covers the sport in all its forms and at its many levels. Written in bestselling author Katherine Dunn’s characteristic vernacular, these pieces range from portraits of legendary fighters such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, and Mike Tyson to the unsung stories of trainers, amateuPublished together for the first time, this anthology of essays on boxing covers the sport in all its forms and at its many levels. Written in bestselling author Katherine Dunn’s characteristic vernacular, these pieces range from portraits of legendary fighters such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, and Mike Tyson to the unsung stories of trainers, amateurs, promoters, cutmen, and a pair of pugilistic priests. Spanning 30 years and including all who make up the vibrant boxing world, this compilation—from one of the most original voices in American sports literature—finely elevates the sport and communicates its beauty, passion, and character....

Title : One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing
Author :
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ISBN : 9780980139426
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 248 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing Reviews

  • Marc
    2018-12-05 03:45

    Dunn achieved a kind of cult-classic status with Geek Love published in 1989. Fans of her fiction waited and waited for another novel to follow with whispers and hints at a publication date surfacing every 3 to 5 years. Her death in May (2016) put to rest any further speculation. She was the type of writer who took her time (it's said Geek Love took her 10 years to write and almost another 10 to publish). But she did leave behind some lesser-known works (two previous novels: Truck and Attic; and a number of journalistic pieces on boxing, a true love of hers).This collection pulls together highlights of her nonfiction boxing essays. While I have no real interest in boxing, I was fascinated to delve into the part of Dunn's life that seemed to take up most of her writing focus. I have no idea where she stood in relation to other journalists who cover boxing, but every piece in this collection re-enforces her standing as a keen observer of people and the human condition as a whole. Her fondness for the underdog and the common person brings to light the stories of unheralded fighters. Dunn makes tangible the refuge that many boxing gyms offer, the complex and tender relationships that form between sparring partners. She manages to acknowledge the lure of the spectacle while still fighting for the dignity of the athletes. Perhaps you object to the inherent violence of the sport? Dunn just might be able to convince you otherwise given her reasoned stance on its virtues and safety (relative to many other sports). I grew up in the Don King era of boxing where a circus-like quality followed major advertising for heavyweight pay-per-view fights, so I was surprised to read Dunn's piece defending Mike Tyson's ear biting incident. And yet, even here she provides a refreshing perspective touching on everything from strategy to the media's inherent fear of "bad" black men. This collection ranges far and wide, covering the role of a good "cut man" in your corner to the growth of women in boxing. If you like boxing, you'll appreciate this book. If you like Dunn, you'll enjoy seeing her writing chops in service of something she loves. I'll leave you with a few choice selections: "Ego masquerading as know-how is common to every human endeavor." --Cuts"Sports are a continual testing of our strength as individuals and our resilience as a species. The more risk in the game, the closer it carries us to the limits of our own possibilities. Games are powerful art forms that offer us greatness and hurl us deeper into life by their drama and beauty." --The Vice & Virtue of Boxing"The subject of boxing is two people---who they are, and the complex chemical reaction that occurs when they collide on a given night. It is supposed to be a kind of Spartan Zen, fierce but silent except for the periodic bell and the smack of leather on flesh. The purists prefer that a boxer's identity be revealed and defined only by what happens inside the ring. But the curse of all the arts is that the most magnificent performance won't pay the rent if nobody's watching." --One Ring Circus: Ali vs. Frazier IV"The fight was a circus, as all big boxing matches are. The glitter gets the audience in the door and puts them in the seats. And then the joke is over. The white lights go on above the ring, and two people give whatever they've got. Sometimes it's a clear view of the human heart. That doesn't happen every time. Maybe it doesn't happen often enough. But when it does---as it did that night---it's the greatest show on earth." --One Ring Circus: Ali vs. Frazier IV"It's a funny world where the actors want to box because it makes them feel real, and the boxers want to act because the pay is so much better." --The Knockout: Lucia Rijker"The fight folk get impatient with writers using boxing as a metaphor. They're likely to tell you, "Everything is like boxing but boxing isn't like anything else." Still, the year-long build up to the heavyweight title fight between champion Larry Holmes and challenger Gerry Cooney danced so blatantly on the racial divide that it was downright pathetic... Dear fat-headed America, the dreamer. Once again, logic drops right out of the ratings and magic gets the vote. Confess: you didn't think Gerry Cooney could, should, or would win. You just wanted him to.If you've paid off your bets, the hollow in your pockets is echoing with laughter. You dreamed a feast and woke up with pie on your mugs. That 50-1 shot in the quinella collapses in the first turn and rolls merrily in the dust, kicking and hiccupping with unbridled levity. But ask not at whom the horse laughs. He laughs at you." --The Unhappy Warrior: Holmes vs. Cooney"The sport of boxing is evolving into a symbolic orchid rooted in gambling casinos and energized by the growlight of national television." --The Big Risk: Andy Minsker -----------------------------------------------------------Words I Learned While Reading This Book:folderol | megillah | quinella | palooka

  • Eric
    2018-11-28 03:42

    Such a joy to read. I already knew that Dunn had fictional chops, but her non-fiction is an ace in the hole as well. To be honest, I thought that reading a book about boxing profiles would be tedious, but Dunn obviously loves the sport and the technique and science behind it and that love is infectious. It makes me yearn for the days when I was a young lad watching (Crazy) Iron Mike Tyson beat the shite out of anyone and also watch the Iron Sheik pile drive Randy "Macho Man" Savage...whoops! Wrong sport! JK! Seriously, One Ring Circus is great. Some stories were heartwarming, some were depressing and sad, but all were interesting. Oh, something worth noting, Dunn carries a big torch for grrrl power. There are many stories that focus on women's increasing involvement in the sport and quite a few profiles of female boxers. These were the highlights of the book for me. These women have more heart than 95% of the men mentioned in the book. Oooh, now I feel inspired to put on some Ani DiFranco...Living In Clip or Puddle Dive?

  • Adeyinka Makinde
    2018-11-13 22:32

    The attraction of the sport of boxing to men and a good fewer women involved in the vocation of constructing words is well documented. Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer but to name a few had a great affinity to it and featured the game in their novels and in other writings. This attraction is not too hard to fathom. For in boxing lies an aggregate of the dramas of life. From the politics of matchmaking to the rituals associated with the dressing room. From the protocols within the training gymnasium to the drama of the action in the ring, it is a sport which consistently fascinates. In the ring, two beings set at each other with flailing fists to put each one’s skill and stamina to the test. Within the confines of the ropes is played out an uneasy accommodation between the use of specially designed rules and a resort back to the barbaric origins of humanity: the raison d’etre of two well-conditioned specimens is to hurt the other, and, if possible, to knock the opponent into a state of unconsciousness. It serves as a spectacle which is at once compelling and disconcerting. Two modern gladiators, exhibiting a supremely taxing form of athleticism, tread on a canvas partly as artists and partly as adrenaline-fuelled agents of destruction. In the background, a crowd, or at least, a significant portion of the crowd will bay for human blood.In each fighter is an individual’s story about the rationale for picking up the gloves. This frequently involves notions of using the sport as a pathway to redemption, of self realisation and of allowing a member of society’s underclass of nobodies a means to some form of personal actualisation. One reason for steering youth to this sport was the argument that the disciplines it imposed on the impressionable mind were character building. Yet, the boxing business is frequently charged with inflicting soul destroying experiences on its practitioners as well as leaving them physically disabled. It is a sport which is ever controversial. One which boasts of extraordinary characters such as John L. Sullivan and Muhammad Ali, who have risen to the peaks of fame –and of infamy. The monies generated by various fights have set all sorts of records but at its lowest level in the professional ranks, it has often vied for the position of most difficult and least rewarding of trades. ‘Dispatches From the World of Boxing’ is a particularly apt sub-title. For boxing is somewhat analogous to a war zone. There are the generalissimos: the rival big-time promoters and the venerated and at times cantankerous calling-the-shots superstar fighters. Then there are the ‘foot soldiers’ whose ranks include many an unsung cutman and the $200-dollar-per-round preliminary fighters. The ‘casualties’ comprise at any given moment an assortment of ageing and deluded former champions, contenders and journeymen; each one overstaying his welcome and fighting a usually losing battle against one immutable tenet of nature; the inevitability of physical degeneration. So too, the brain-damaged and indigent ex-pug struggling to pay for the medicines and the treatment that may arrest his degenerating health along with the other bills of life and even, one could argue, the adherents: today’s fan; members of a fast-shrinking constituency who more often than not feel cheated by a several decades long habit of fractious titles, non-competitive fight bills as well as the enormous dues demanded by pay-per-view shows. Culled from extensive writings for The Oregonian and Willamette Week and from prestige assignments for Playboy, Sports Illustrated and Vogue, ‘One Ring Circus’ is a collection of engaging essays and articles written by Katherine Dunn, an award-winning novelist and boxing enthusiast who has covered the sport for three decades.A 1994 article penned for Mother Jones and entitled “Just As Fierce” is a well-argued polemic urging all: feminists, traditionalists and other ideological positions in-between to acknowledge the frequently ignored feminine instinct and capacity for aggression and to get used to the idea of female combatants duking it out in the squared ring. Laced with references to personal observations, to historical, sociological and psychological surveys, she posits the compelling conclusion that the female species is as widely varied as is the male when it comes to displaying ‘fighting heart’: A ‘heresy’ postulated as an inexorable logic.She is at her prosecutorial best when indicting the denizens of the media for their widespread, one-dimensional, open and shut denunciations of Mike Tyson in the aftermath of the ear-biting incident during his second contest with Evander Holyfield. It all bore more than a whiff of double-standards and racial profiling according to Dunn.One thing Dunn has in common with the many talented writers who have devoted much time to boxing is her seemingly endless reservoir of enthusiasm about the game and the characters that are associated with it. With Alexis Arguello, the Nicaraguan legend, she celebrates a dignified paragon of pugilistic elegance and human rectitude. In Francisco Roche, a Cuban emigre with a ‘past’, we see Dunn shine a spotlight on an averagely-talented fighter trying his best to achieve his version of the ‘American Dream’. Also covered is Lucia Rijker, a Dutch warrior of resolute determination, in whose tale is a confirmation of the truism that discipline married to talent produces professional excellence. Then there is the enthrallingly dark and tangled narrative that is the story of Johnny Tapia. While boxing may be a sport many of its fans have been in love with all their lives, it is a love affair which nonetheless is often times uneasy; even bitter-sweet. It is tempered when the inevitable fatal or near fatal ring casualty hits the news. And just as in the 1960s, when the death of the Cuban welterweight Benny ‘Kid’ Paret touched off the opprobrium of the anti-boxing brigade, so in the 1980s, the death of Duk Koo Kim, a Korean lightweight, re-ignited, so far as the United States was concerned, renewed efforts to do away with a sport whose enemies feel has no place in a civilised society. Once again, Dunn, as other boxing journalists, was called upon to dip her pen into the inkwell to offer her ruminations and sober assessments of the sport she loves.As a writer situated in the epochal 1980s, she was well-placed to record the violent theatre that was Marvin Hagler versus Thomas Hearns, the racial politics and personal aspects involved in Larry Holmes’s defence of his world heavyweight title against Gerry Cooney, as well as the exhilarating success-against-the-odds comeback of Sugar Ray Leonard. Katherine Dunn's articles are wonderful lessons in deconstructing the boxing business and the boxers for the benefit of the non-fan in a way in which the aficionado can appreciate. They also serve as an historic record of the times during which the writer has covered the sport.And yes, one thing Dunn’s collection does confirm in the mind of the reader is that boxing, for all its deadly seriousness as a combat sport and its attendant poisonous issues, is one hell of a storming circus.ONE RING CIRCUS: Dispatches from the World of Boxing by Katherine Dunn is published by SCHAFFNER PRESS Inc and is available for purchase at amazon.comAdeyinka Makinde is the author of the biography Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal. His next book will be Jersey Boy: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula

  • Juan Valdivia
    2018-11-29 02:55

    After re-reading Dunn's "Geek Love" recently, I was eager as an eager beaver to read this book. Happy to report that it was a fun, quick read. Her love and reverence for the art of boxing is on every page. Sure, some of the essays written about fights in the 1980s and 1990s may feel dated, but her portraits of boxers like bad-ass Lucia Rijker and Johnny Tapia were fascinating. Loved her thoughtful, thorough defense of Mike Tyson's ear biting in his second fight with Holyfield, and "School of Hard Knocks" was a beautiful essay. A few of the pieces were egh but the vast majority of them--at least for me--served to capture my attention about that particular fight (such as Holmes vs. Cooney and the racial tension underlying that title fight) or fighter. And in the Age of YouTube, this book managed to further widen my interest for the sport of boxing; I know I'm going to search for these fights and fighters to see them in action. That's an accomplishment, no? To boot, I can fully endorse this book for Katherine Dunn fans. This collection further captures her spirit, too (or so I think). After reading "Geek Love," who can be surprised to read that Dunn asked Lucia Rijker's trainer, the Freddie Roach, if she could be her sparring partner for the piece so she could better understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of one of Rijker's jabs. How can you not love a writer like her!?

  • Andy
    2018-11-13 01:45

    I'm a huge Geek Love fan, and it was only a matter of time before I read One Ring Circus (been on the Kindle for over a year now). I am also a very green boxing fan (admittedly, I know nothing about the sport, but have found myself intrigued over the past few years, wanting to delve into it not just as a casual viewer). Therefore, this book made sense to read for me. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the stories that we written here. I even did some research on some names I never heard of, just to see what I missed in the 80's. Dunn certainly knows boxing, and she has this passion for it that I could some people not understanding, as boxing is a tough sport to engage in on many levels. I respect her for her views and her insights. I can't say what my favorite story was (probably the Johnny Tapia one, heartbreaking and enthralling all in the same), but her defense of Tyson biting Holyfield had me floored. I remember that fight, and I never thought to wonder why Tyson did what he did, only assumed what the media said. Dunn's take is something else. Daring and insightful, and I find myself sympathizing with Tyson as she told he viewpoint of the fight and reason/cause. That was pretty eye opening and it's writing like that that I just love.

  • Josh Valley
    2018-11-14 19:37

    The recent death of Katherine Dunn made one thing depressingly clear: we may never see her follow up to Geek Love in our life time. For the last 20 years, Dunn has been working on and off on a boxing themed novel entitled Cut Man, and barring the event of it being published posthumously, it may be lost to time at this point. It makes me sad, and it sent me out looking for any of Dunn's writing to consume. I know nothing about boxing, but there's something incredible about writer whose passion for a subject you care very little about ignites a temporary interest in it. I doubt I'm going to go watch fights on my own, but through Dunn's eyes I was captivated and intrigued by this world I'd never even cast a sideways thought toward. That's enough to recommend this book to everyone.

  • Tom
    2018-11-16 03:34

    The sport of professional boxing has become a joke these days (I realized the other day that I had no clue who was reigning heavyweight champ, an unthinkable lapse when I was a kid mesmerized by Ali-Frazier epic fights), but fortunately, that doesn't diminish the quality of fine writing about the sport, including William Hazlitt's essay "The Fight" and AJ Liebling's classic collection "The Sweet Science." I've never heard of Dunn (my fault, I'm sure) but I look forward to reading a new contributor to that fine tradition.

  • Milo
    2018-11-26 19:35

    "At the time, boxers struck me as peculiarly civilized. They didn't screech or holler. They didn't use knives or bicycle chains or chunks of plumbing, and they only fought when the bell rang. When it rang again, they stopped. Amazing. Still, I believed that, being a girl, I had no access to the place where the rage was trained and restrained."

  • Katie
    2018-11-23 01:32

    I didn't finish this collection of boxing essays, which is more the result of my current addiction to Lemony Snicket than a comment on the quality. Directed at the non-enthusiast, the essays helped me to get the allure of boxing and see it in a new light. I hope to finish one of these days.

  • Joe DiBuduo
    2018-11-30 02:31

    Good book about boxing, but is a little dated for me

  • Emma Richler
    2018-11-28 22:47

    Very good indeed.

  • Derek
    2018-12-12 20:45

    My only disappointment is that it ended so quickly. I would be delighted if I had a hundred more pages to read.

  • Sara
    2018-12-13 23:46

    Because I read the interview with Katherine Dunn in Guernica: