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Sting Like a Bee
The Muhammad Ali Story
By Jose Torres and Bert Randolph Sugar
Reviewed by Mike DeLisa
Finally, 30 years after its publication and too many years after falling out of print, Sting Like a Bee: The Muhammad Ali Story is once more available. In recent years a mini-industry has sprung up around Ali and his story, most written by guys who wouldn't know a left jab if it bit them in the ass (how's that for a mixed metaphor!) This book, one of a gaggle obout Ali published shortly after the Ali-Frazier Superfight in 1971, remains fresh, vibrant and penetrating.
Former Lightheavyweight Champion Jose Torres -- ably aided by Bert Randolph Sugar -- probably gets closer to the heart of Ali than any other writer. Certainly no other boxer has wriiten as well about another fighter.
One aspect of the book that jumped out upon re-reading is the absolute truth of what Torres writes about. And, although his affection for Ali colors his conclusions, he presents the facts untrammelled. So, this Ali sleeps with a prostitute, mingles with hate-mongering Black Muslims, and makes horrendous racial comments abnout Joe Frazier.
Jose never was one to pull punches.
The book is especially good at examinging the psyche of fighters. Torres, a disciple of Cus D'Amato, the mad philospher of boxing, goes well beyond the "control your fear" shibboleth that passes for analysis these days. Indeed, his examination of Ali is really just a starting point for him to plumb the psychology common to all fighters -- which leads to a deeper uinderstanding of why boxing has long appealed not only to the masses but also to such writers as Ernest Hemmingway, Jack London, Norman Mailer (who provises a preface) and Budd Shulberg (who adds an epilogue).
This is just a wonderful book, well-presented in an oversized paperback by Contemporary Books. If you can't find it in your bookstore, join the new millenium and buy it from amazon.com -- the link is on your right.
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