Posted in Events, tagged All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival, Boxing, Boxing documentary, Heavyweight champion, John McCain, Larry Holmes, Max Kellerman, No Neutral Corner, Raleigh Studios, Rodwan Productions, Steve Farhood, Teddy Atlas, Thomas Hauser on June 18, 2010 |
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No Neutral Corner – a documentary my wife and I made about the business of boxing – has been accepted into the 2010 All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival.
Professional boxing is a job, and the movie looks at the sport as a form of work. The problems plaguing boxing are legion. They range from the obvious (and not-so-obvious) health hazards to corruption and organizational chaos. But there’s little agreement on how to solve them (hence the title No Neutral Corner). At the same time, however, there are several ongoing efforts to improve the situation. The documentary doesn’t dwell only on the negatives. Numerous people in the boxing world – including current and former professional boxers, writers and broadcasters, lawmakers and doctors – have faced the challenges of reforming the sport. (Essays in Fighters & Writers to varying degrees grew out of research I conducted while working on the movie.)
Over the course of 13 “rounds” (corresponding to the 12 rounds of a championship bout, plus one “round” about life after boxing), No Neutral Corner explores various moves to improve boxers’ working conditions. Shot in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, the documentary features footage from professional boxing matches, boxing gyms, and a weigh-in preceding a major championship bout as well as from interviews with dozens of well-know individuals, including former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, U.S. Senator John McCain, on-air boxing analysts and commentators Steve Farhood, Teddy Atlas and Max Kellerman, and writer Thomas Hauser.
The All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival promotes the art of filmmaking in the world of sports and competition. Its jury and judges include people from both the film and sporting industries. The festival’s selected documentaries, feature films and shorts will be screened at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on July 10 and 11.
No Neutral Corner, a Rodwan Productions film, also won the Las Vegas Film Festival’s Silver Ace Award.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Alexandre Dumas, Boxing, Larry Donald, Larry Holmes, Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali, New York State Athletic Commission, Richard Pevear, Trevor Berbick on June 6, 2010 |
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What insight into boxing does The Three Musketeers offer? Well, consider this scene from the Alexandre Dumas novel (as translated by Richard Pevear): D’Artagnan heads to a scheduled duel with Athos – the first of three duels arranged (but not held) with each of the musketeers – worrying that he will not benefit no matter what the outcome. He fears
that the result of the duel would be what is always the most regrettable result in an affair of this kind, when a young and vigorous man fights against a wounded and weakened adversary: vanquished, he doubles the triumphs of his antagonist; victorious, he is accused of treachery and easy audacity.
Affairs of this kind happen all the time in boxing, and boxers confronting well known but well worn opponents face the same dilemma. I witnessed Larry Donald’s unanimous-decision win over Evander Holyfield at Madison Square Garden in 2004, for example, and tended to agree with the New York State Athletic Commission’s decision afterward that Holyfield shouldn’t be fighting anymore. (He didn’t stop after that, of course.) Donald didn’t emerge looking like the next great champion by beating the former champion long after his prime, but if he had lost… What did Trevor Berbick prove by vanquishing Muhammad Ali in 1981? And what did Larry Holmes accomplish by beating Ali one year earlier?
Dumas may have been writing about swordfights, but when I read that passage I thought about prizefights and the pathos of the aging warrior.
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Posted in Fighters & Writers, tagged A.J. Liebling, Albert Camus, Boxing, Christopher Hitchens, Darin Strauss, David Remnick, George Foreman, George Orwell, George Plimpton, Henry Rollins, Ian McEwan, James Braddock, Joe Frazier, Joe Louis, John McCain, José Torres, Joyce Carol Oates, Larry Holmes, Martin Amis, Max Baer, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Norman Mailer, Oscar Wilde, Philip Roth, W.C. Heinz on May 21, 2010 |
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As I write this post, Fighters & Writers is at the printer. Here’s a bit of background on my forthcoming book.
Fighters & Writers is neither a traditional sports book nor a conventional collection of literary essays. It blends literary criticism, journalism and memoir and considers both the lively body of literature directly related to boxing and the ways the sport relates to writers not usually identified with it.
Essays in Fighters & Writers discuss works about boxing by authors such as Albert Camus, W.C. Heinz, A.J. Liebling, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, George Plimpton, Philip Roth, New Yorker editor David Remnick, Darin Strauss and José Torres – a boxing champion who became a writer – as well as the cultural impact made by boxers like Muhammad Ali, Max Baer, James Braddock, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson. Rodwan also considers the sport in connection with figures such as Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, John McCain, Ian McEwan, George Orwell, Henry Rollins and Oscar Wilde.
The title essay surveys a selection of the mammoth body of literature involving boxing in addition to writing on closely related topics such as confidence games. “The Ali Act” considers writers’ undiminished interest in one extraordinary boxer. “The Fighting Life” looks at two prominent writers’ use of boxing in their fiction. “A First-Class Sport” assesses boxing’s frequently overlooked positive aspects by examining the memoirs and autobiographies of several boxing enthusiasts, including a former heavyweight champion, a well-known trainer and television analyst, and prominent public figures including a former president and a U.S. senator. Other pieces in the collection explore how boxing inserts itself in writers’ imaginations even when they write about other subjects. Essays on diverse topics such as book dedications, Orwell’s Spanish Civil War memories, digressions, tattoos and weight loss reveal the close, if not always recognized, connections between fighters and writers.
Carlo Rotella, author of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, called Fighters & Writers “a spirited and far-ranging meditation on boxing that’s also a thoughtful inquiry into the relationship between the writer’s craft and the fighter’s.”
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