Since Fighters & Writers was published, I’ve continued to come across items reaffirming ideas I explore in the book: that boxing’s implicit philosophy rests on qualities, like discipline and tenacity, which writers require and that this results in an ongoing productive relationship between the sport and literature. The January 16, 2012, issue of The New Yorker, for example, includes a profile of Alaa Al Aswany in which the Egyptian novelist likens himself to a boxer:
“I have to feel myself a fighter,” he said, hunching his shoulders, lowering his head, and bringing his fists up to his face…. “I am fighting for my career, for my writing, and for my success,” he went on. “Every day, I wake up early. And often I am tired, and my wife says ‘No, no.’ And I think, ‘I must get up and work.’” It is this determination that keeps him moving: “I tell my wife, ‘I am a boxer.’”
One can imagine Norman Mailer or Ernest Hemingway, some of the authors I discuss in Fighters & Writers, having similar conversations with their spouses.
Although the magazine might not carry as much boxing coverage as it did when A.J. Liebling was on the staff, the same edition of The New Yorker does include several more references to the sport. In a review of Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas, editor (and Muhammad Ali biographer) David Remnick writes that “in many black communities the celebrations surrounding the Obama election victory and the Inauguration were on a par with Joe Louis’s one-round knockout of Max Schmeling, in 1938.” Remnick also invokes “the Italian-American philosopher Rocky Balboa.” An article about efforts to build a football stadium in Los Angeles notes that the planned structure could also stage boxing matches and other events. Demonstrating that scribblers aren’t alone in their pugilistic interests, the magazine’s “Goings on about Town” section decorates its list of art gallery shows with an image created by Jeff Wall showing two gloved boys sparring in a living room. It’s titled “Boxing.”