Lost Champ

Books_WarriorOne of the things I enjoyed during my week in Mexico a couple weeks ago was that every evening when I was sitting down to dinner, both places I divided my meals between had large televisions viewable from just about anywhere. I normally avoid being in line of sight with these things, but in this case, perhaps by mere coincidence, I was arriving in time for extensive coverage of both soccer and boxing. Both sports are huge in Mexico, and I am a fan of both. I enjoyed getting to see the coverage, even though I could understand little of it.

I’m a week behind, but the Independent published my review of the new book by Brian D’Ambrosio called Warrior in the Ring: The Life of Marvin Camel, Native American World Champion Boxer. This was a guy whose heyday coincided with my teenage years, and I was well aware of him then. Here is an excerpt:

Sadly, as Brian D’Ambrosio points out in his new biography, Warrior in the Ring, few people remember Camel’s name and what he accomplished. The cruiserweight division—slotted between the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions—has never had much respect as a weight class. Its most famous champion was Evander Holyfield, who won the title on his way up in weight before ultimately claiming a champion’s belt (and losing part of an ear to Mike Tyson) as a heavyweight. The division’s anonymity is only compounded by the utter disinterest in boxing over the last couple decades. Once one of the biggest sports in the country, today, as D’Ambrosio writes, “no current sports magazine has a full-time boxing writer.”

It’s an interesting book. It made me miss the days when boxing was big enough that fights were held at places like The Carousel Lounge (which used to be a bar and is now a TV station about a block from where my band rehearses; my high school band played a Battle of the Bands there once, and recorded a demo in its basement) or even the Field House (as in the Adams Field House, which I think is called Dahlberg Arena now, or maybe both, I don’t know — it is where the University of Montana plays basketball). Yes, boxing is a brutal sport, and maybe deserves its death, but it still makes me wistful.

This is a small press book, so if it sounds interesting, please consider buying it.

 

Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

4 thoughts on “Lost Champ”

  1. This does sound interesting. I’ve never been a big boxing fan (yay, soccer, though), but remember the days when we would gather around for a big fight. I’m not sure what came first, the lack of interest or the advent of pay-per-view, but when is the last time a fight was free to view? It’s a strange evolution. In any event, while my finger was never on the pulse of boxing, I’m a bit surprised I’ve never heard Camel’s name before, which makes me want to read it all the more. Thanks, Chris.

    1. It’s as much a snapshot of life on an Indian reservation in MT in the 50s and 60s as it is anything else, Lauren. I think you’d like it.

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