First post

As it is unexpectedly difficult to write anything longer than a tweet after reducing your online activity to such for a while, I might just start writing about books I'm reading and then see how it goes.

Luckily I started to read more since I switched a job last summer and my 15 minutes cycling commute turned into an hour on a train, that's one way. Ditching my smartphone for an aged e-ink Kindle also helped a lot. While I don't find its screen more comfortable for my eyes (it still is, but just not as much to justify the hassle of carrying and managing an extra device), the mere fact it cannot do anything beyond displaying a page to read means you cannot get distracted as easily, and that boosted my reading speed enormously - well, at least comparing to what I used to read while cycling, i.e. to zero.

So the book I finished recently was Battling Jack Turpin, which probaly is obscure enough judging by the fact I was the first reviewer on Amazon who didn't know Turpin personally or through a handshake. Thanks to the excellent I also started to publish clippings from the books I read, so here are the quotes from this one.

Call me lazy, but clippings themselves are enough to get the idea of what I liked and what the book is about. There are two bits, however, which impressed me most.

The first eye-opening fact was how remarkably poor post-war Britain was, at least comparing to the US. I've read about that before (and you can in, for example, Family Britain), but that's one more facet to it.

When Sugar Ray Robinson was fighting Randolph Turpin in 1951, he brought a fair crowd of entourage and a luxury car across the ocean to London with him:

All the razzle-dazzle of America came with Robinson. ‘Hollywood Come To Town,’ is what the papers said. It was like Britain was only in black and white, and America was in technicolour.

Randolph, on the other had, after winning the world title (and back in the days it used to mean more because there was only one champion in every weight category), to return to 'boxing booths' (fighting with whoever challenged him at the local market) to earn his living.

It isn't that he didn't get rich later, but reading about that in details juxtapositioned semi-unintentionally was still pretty striking.

Another discovery was reading about Turpin brothers carrying heavy tools around those boxing booths and carefully avoiding confrontation with their opponents' mates, should they be upset after their friend's defeat.

I’d got a big spanner in my jacket. I always carried it on the booths. I was only 9 st. and if some of those buggers come back for me after I’d knocked ’em out, I needed summat.

I mean, they actually were the best boxers in the world (Randolph) or England (Jack), never defeated on these booths, but they still didn't think that avoiding an unnecessary brawl or relying on something apart from their bare knuckles was overcautious, especially when facing two or more angry lads or if they were heavier.

That sort of puts things into perspective and is worth remembering when you come to a gym for a couple of times and get that less than deserved feeling you're a superman now.

So what can I say. If you either like boxing or are interested in 1940-1950s Britain, you probably won't regret reading this book.

Yuriy Akopov

Yuriy Akopov

North London, UK
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