Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Women's Boxing & Toole's Million Dollar Baby

We've been a little light on sports news/books here at Newsworthy Novels:  we had our Iditarod post earlier this month and then our Rwandan track star post in February.  That's about it.  But thankfully, a couple of weeks ago the Guardian ran a story about female boxers in Afghanistan and the UK, giving us the perfect excuse for another sports read.

Here are some of the article highlights:
Sadaf Rahimi, Fahima Mohammad and Shabnam Rahman have overcome a host of cultural and financial barriers to pursue their sport in Kabul... Rahimi, Mohammad and Rahman are due to train and attend a charity auction in London to raise money for their gym in Kabul, then travel to Bristol to be coached by Britain's first officially licensed female boxer, Jane Couch MBE. Couch is no stranger to struggles with authorities – in 1998 she persuaded an industrial tribunal to overturn a British Boxing Board of Control ruling that had denied her a licence. The BBBC had argued that premenstrual syndrome made women too unstable to box. After years of lobbying from British women fighters, women's boxing was officially recognised as an Olympic sport on 14 August 2009. At London 2012 there were women boxers from Kazakhstan, North Korea and Turkey, while British boxer Nicola Adams became the first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold.

What's a great book about boxers? Try the heartbreaking novella Million Dollar Baby by the late boxing manager F. X. Toole:
A boxing cut man uses swabs, pressure, ice, and home-mixed salve to stop his fighter's bleeding between rounds. Toole, 70, whose experience as a cut man inspired this hard-boiled debut...writes with blunt authority about this world. His strongest tales feature old trainers or cut men like himself, wisely noble holdovers from boxing's Hibernian age...  His coldly plotted novella "Million $$$ Baby" begins like the most familiar old pulp story of the grumpy veteran trainer and the eager would-be student; then Toole freshens the clich by making the boxer an innocent young woman from the Ozarks.

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