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‘At the Fights’ NYT Review: Of Writers and Boxers

Today, championship boxing is lucky to win half a column in the sports pages. There was a time, though, when things were otherwise. In one of two introductions to “At the Fights,” George Kimball, who edited this anthology with John Schulian, recalls the 1910 fight between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries: “More than 600 writers of varying stripes augmented the ringside crowd of 20,000 spectators. . . . Western Union transmitted more than a million words of copy, a record that would stand until Lindbergh touched down . . . 17 years later.” And as indicated by the editors elsewhere in the book, when Jack Dempsey defended his title against Georges Carpentier, the coverage in The New York Times “consumed not just the sports section on July 3, 1921, but almost the entire paper.”

More than any other sport, even baseball or golf, boxing calls forth the muse in writers. It’s no surprise...

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