If you’re addicted to boxing like me, you’ll want to know which are the best boxing books to read in your downtime. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of boxing books that can help to improve your fighting and others that tell the lives of some of the boxing greats.
Keep reading to see what made our list.
- 1 Undisputed Truth – Mike Tyson
- 2 The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey – Muhammad Ali
- 3 The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told – Jeff Silverman
- 4 Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing – George Kimball
- 5 Rocky Marciano: The Rock of His Times – Russell Sullivan
- 6 The Sweet Science – A. J. Liebling
- 7 Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History – Jeremy Schaap
- 8 Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson – Wil Haygood
- 9 Box Like The Pros – Joe Frazier & William Dettloff
- 10 Jack Dempsey, The Manassa Mauler – Randy Roberts
- 11 Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing – Jerry Izenberg
- 12 The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever – Joe Layden
- 13 Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense – Jack Dempsey
- 14 Iron Ambition: My Life With Cus D’Amato – Mike Tyson & Larry Sloman
Undisputed Truth – Mike Tyson
Undisputed Truth is the memoir of one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, Mike Tyson. His life story can sound like fiction, but everyone knows the type of character that Tyson was so we all know it’s real.
The book doesn’t only focus on Tyson’s boxing, which is why you’ll be laughing out loud at times as some of the stories told are so surreal. It’s a real account of how money and fame can change your life especially when you have an addictive personality as Tyson did.
He wasn’t only one of the most fascinating boxers, but also one of the most fascinating sports figures of his time.
The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey – Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time both in the ring and out of it. He came across as arrogant during his fighting career, but he also gave a lot back, especially after he retired.
As the title of the book makes clear, this is about Ali’s journey through life and the stories he collected over the years. In his later life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and it was partly this that made him understand what was important in life.
Whilst he was nicknamed The Greatest during his active years, he was humble for the rest of his life.
The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told – Jeff Silverman
Jeff Silverman’s “The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told” is a book every boxing fanatic should have at home. He doesn’t only focus on the boxing champions, but also on the dark side of the sport. Boxing is a violent sport and the author looks at the issues that come with this.
There’s plenty to ponder on when reading this book and also stories that you’ll be able to recount with friends.
Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing – George Kimball
George Kimball was one of the best boxing journalists that the sport has seen and his book Four Kings shows why he earned that title. This book focuses on the boxing era of the late 1970s and early 80s before pay-per-view existed.
The book looks at four of the best boxers of this period which is why it has the title Four Kings. These are Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Kimball was reporting on the fights between these legends of the sports. He had access to the training camps as they happened, but he decided to publish a book dedicated to this era in 2009. It’s a great insight into how boxing was back then.
Rocky Marciano: The Rock of His Times – Russell Sullivan
Sullivan goes deep into the life of 1950s boxer Rocky Marciano and how his undefeated success turned his life around. His story is considered the beauty of the American dream that so many aspired to, but he was also a complex man and the author makes this clear in his writing.
The Sweet Science – A. J. Liebling
We’ll start by saying that Sports Illustrated named this the best American sports book of all time, that’s some feat! A.J. Liebling worked for the New Yorker as a sports journalist and it was his pieces on boxing that led to this book.
Some stories date back to the time of Rocky Marciano and the downfall of boxing great Joe Louis. In a time when boxing was America’s second favorite sport to baseball, these stories are great to reminisce on how it used to be.
Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History – Jeremy Schaap
Cinderella Man is the most widely known boxing story as it dates back to the time of the Great Depression. James J. Braddock was a dock worker in Hoboken who fought to help feed his family, but with a broken right hand, many didn’t believe he could continue to fight.
This is the story of how he overcame his doubters and wrote himself into the history books with one of the greatest boxing comebacks of all time.
Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson – Wil Haygood
There is no question that Sugar Ray Robinson is one of the greatest boxers of all time. Some would even argue that he is the greatest boxer pound-for-pound that there’s been.
Haygood’s biography covers his entire life from when he was born in the 1920s up to his retirement. It is a great insight into how America was back then and how the subject of race affected the life of this great fighter and other black boxers at the time.
Box Like The Pros – Joe Frazier & William Dettloff
If you want to learn about boxing history as well as how to take a punch without batting an eyelid, then you’ll want to read Box Like The Pros.
Smokin’ Joe Frazier was one of the most famous heavyweight boxers, and together with William Dettloff, they published the ultimate guide to boxing.
You’ll get insights into how best to spar, defense and offense basics, and a whole lot more. Some will argue that times have changed, but there is still so much in this book that is useful to beginners and pros.
Jack Dempsey, The Manassa Mauler – Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts looks at the life of Jack Dempsey who was the heavyweight champion of the world between 1919 and 1926.
Dempsey didn’t start boxing until sixteen, but he went on to win 64 of his fights with 49 of them being through knockouts. The book even continues after his boxing career into what he did once he retired in 1940.
Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing – Jerry Izenberg
Jerry Izenberg’s boxing book focuses on the great heavyweight boxers that fought between 1962 and 1997. As the title of the book states, this is seen as the golden age of this weight division.
There are so many great stories of this period that you’ll be engrossed and won’t want to put the book down. The fights between Frazier and Ali through Izenberg’s eyes as a reporter displays how these greats wanted to take the other one down. Other stories of boxing greats include those from Tyson’s career, Holmes, Liston, and more.
The latest edition published in 2021 even has a foreword from Manny Pacquiao, you know, one of the best southpaw boxers of all time.
The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever – Joe Layden
Time for another boxing book that focuses on an upset story, this one being much more recent. Mike Tyson was undefeated until James “Buster” Douglas came along…
Layden’s book was compiled due to his exclusive interviews with the two boxers, their families, trainers, managers, and even the referee. This is the book for those that love an underdog story.
Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense – Jack Dempsey
Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey might be an old book, but it’s still as relevant today as when it was first published. It isn’t just a book for boxers, but anyone that wants to learn how to fight.
You’ll learn how to punch with more power, how to be aggressive whilst you defend, how to improve your footwork, and a whole lot more!
The book is full of illustrations to help guide and teach you how to box. It’s great for amateurs starting out, but also professionals who have been boxing for many years.
Iron Ambition: My Life With Cus D’Amato – Mike Tyson & Larry Sloman
Another book about Mike Tyson now, but this time with a focus on his boxing trainer Cus D’Amato. He was a father figure to Tyson as he adopted him when he was sixteen after his mother died.
Tyson looked up to D’Amato as he helped shape his life both in the ring and outside it. A fascinating man who did a lot for the sport of boxing and how he helped to create the youngest heavyweight champion in history still to this date.