Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Uncrowned Champion of Books

A month or so or go, I clicked on an e-mail from a gentleman by the name of Clay Moyle who was writing to me from Washington state.

Mr. Moyle said he had written a book on an old-time fighter and had entitled it Sam Langford: Boxing’s Greatest Uncrowned Champion (Bennett & Hastings Publishing, LLC, 430 pages) and he was wondering if he were to send me copy of the book, whether I would be interested in reading it and reviewing it.

Being in the boxing business as I am, this sort of request comes my way from time-to-time. However, more often that not, the book that I end up receiving in the mail is sometimes a letdown and a disappointment.

Well, there is no disappointment with Clay Moyle’s work of art on Sam Langford. Mr. Moyle has created a masterpiece with his exquisitely researched, beautifully crafted and perfectly detailed work.

Moyle has completely chronicled the life and career of Sam Langford from his birth in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1886 to his travels around the world as a prizefighter to his life after boxing to the period leading up to his passing in 1956.

Moyle was able to recreate Langford and he takes the reader back in time to the period of Langford’s boxing career that lasted from 1902-1926. The author transports the reader around the world with Sam on a virtual fight-by-fight journey that stretches from Manchester, New Hampshire to Paris, France to Sydney, Australia to Mexico City and all points in between.

The author leaves no stone unturned as tells the story of Langford, who toiled away for years in the fight game while never receiving a justly deserved shot at any world boxing title. Langford was an all-time great who would eventually be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame, although he never received the chance to win a world title because he was a victim of his times - and his skin color.

Many of the white champions of the time simply refused to face Langford. And Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, and the champion for much of Langford’s career, would also not give him a well-earned shot at the championship.

What Langford was left with, then, was a career where he barnstormed the United States in search of opposition and recognition. When he beat everyone that would face him in the United States he went to Europe. When he conquered Europe he went to Australia. When he cleaned out the competition on that continent he eventually would become the heavyweight champion of Mexico where he closed out the remaining years of his illustrious and entertaining career.

The great Sam Langford as he appeared during his prizefighting days in the early 1900's.

In turning the pages, it’s as though you are there in the ring with Sam as he fights names of the times such as “Fireman” Jim Flynn, William “Iron” Hague, Dan “Porky” Flynn and Ed “Gunboat” Smith. Moyle even goes into detail, in some instances, about the weather on the nights of fights as well the colors of the fighters’ robes and trunks.

Moyle drew upon a plethora of sources to help him uncover Langford’s story which included speaking with Langford’s relatives and acquaintances and scouring the pages of hundreds of newspapers, magazines, book s and journals for the most minute details about Langford’s life and legend. The book is filled with many never before seen photographs as well as a complete accounting of Langford’s boxing career.

The entire process allows the reader a behind the scenes glimpse into Langford’s personal life, family affairs and his kind, generous, happy-go lucky personality and comedic, quick-witted sense of humor.

In what some may perceive to be a tragic story of a man being denied the very thing he devoted his life’s effort to – a title shot - the book, upon further reflection, leaves the reader with a warm feeling of having gotten to know Sam Langford, “The Boston Tar Baby.”

And despite Langford’s frustrations at having never received a title shot, he did not become a bitter man. Even though he would eventually wind up with little financial resources at the conclusion of his boxing career, Moyle reveals that Langford was a man not necessarily concerned with monetary rewards. For Langford, the simple things that life ultimately gave him, brought him the most satisfaction.

Just like Clay Moyle’s remarkable tale of Sam Langford: Boxing’s Greatest Uncrowned Champion.

To purchase Mr. Moyle's book, visit:

November 2008

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