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Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing + Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran + Hit Man: The Thomas Hearns Story
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McBooks Press (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590132386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590132388
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Consider the state of boxing today. Not easy, is it? It’s hard to name a prominent fighter. The audience that once gravitated to the sweet science has been diffused among an alphabet soup of competing organizations presenting overhyped, pay-per-view events. It wasn’t always so. Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns were all household names in the 1980s, held multiple titles in or around the middleweight division, and fought among themselves nine times. Kimball, a columnist for the Boston Herald for 25 years, covered all nine of those epic confrontations among 400 other title bouts. He relies on his notes and recollections of the fights as well as fresh interviews with the fighters, their handlers, their managers, and others of note. His accounts of the fights are riveting blow-by-blows, the “big event” context is palpably rendered, and each of the fighters re-emerges from the mists of memory as colorful and compelling as ever. Boxing fans with a little gray in their hair—paraphrasing Pete Hamill’s foreword—will savor Kimball’s work. Younger fans? If they find their way to the book, maybe they’ll understand the difference between greatness and hype. --Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Chosen for Booklist Online's 10 Top Sports Books of 2009



"Kimball's accounts of the fights are riveting blow-by-blows, the "big event" context is palpably rendered, and each of the fighters re-emerges from the mists of memory as colorful and compelling as ever. Boxing fans . . . will savor Kimball's work."  —Booklist



"Boxing's last Golden Age gets the book it deserves. Kimball's breezy, detail-packed book . . . provides vivid, knowledgeable accounts of the action. He also draws clear colorful portraits of [the] four fighters."  —Sports Illustrated



"Four Kings is a thriller and George Kimball a prince among sportswriters . . .  an epic poem of a book, a book that lifts the heart."  —Frank McCourt, author, Angela's Ashes,'Tis, and Teacher Man



"A a terrific book. Kimball was there and never missed a moment of it. His account of the fighters, the fights and the colorful supporting players is rich with insights and details."  —Vincent Patrick, author, The Pope of Greenwich Village and Family Business


"Very accurate and well-researched . . . a phenomenon . . . well-written. I couldn't put it down. I loaned it to a friend and he won't give it back"  —Emanuel Steward, World Champion Boxing trainer



"George Kimball is one of America's best-loved sportswriters and Four Kings shows why. With skill, grace and humor, he brings to life a remarkable era and four uniquely gifted athletes."  —Jeremy Schaap, ESPN reporter and author, Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History



"Kimball writes with insight and humor. The bigger the fight, the better he tells it."  —Thomas Hauser, author, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

George Kimball is author of Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing, and of Manly Art, a boxing collection which will be published by McBooks Press in April of 2011. On June 1 2010 Fore Angels Press published "The Fighter Still Remains," which he co-edited with John Schulian. A past winner of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism, he lives in New York City, and writes the weekly "America at Large" column for The Irish Times. Kimball (b. 1943) also co-edited the forthcoming anthology At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing (with John Schulian) for the Library of America. A career newspaperman, Kimball spent ten years as sports editor of The Boston Phoenix and 25 more as a sports columnist for the Boston Herald.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Highly recommended, especially for the casual fan!
Jimmy Hanzo
George Kimball does a great job of weaving the stories of the 4 main players together, while also giving insight into the other individuals who were involved as well.
Matthew Rychlik
"Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing" radiates the feeling boxing fans had in these glorious days.
Gisela Hausmann

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hawk on October 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
George Kimball absolutely nails one out of the park with this well researched book covering a time in Boxing that he lived through covering the sport.

Each fighter: Duran, Leonard, Hagler and Hearns are each given equal coverage and there is absolutely no bias or spin from the author. Given Kimball covered the Sport in Boston for the Herald, Hagler's backyard, this is VERY refreshing.

The book does what you hope it does, cover the nine fights that each of these four greats had against each other, but George adds so much more insight and background and PERSONAL perspective about the fighters and fights, that you are never bored or disappointed.

All Sports books should strive to be this great.

George Kimball has set the bar very high here. I don't anticipate it being reached any time soon.

Hawk
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Sweeney on October 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Four Kings" is a solid effort by veteran Boston Herald sportswriter George Kimball in his efforts to describe the nine fights fought against each other by Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran in the 1980's. Younger sports fan may not recall that boxing was once considered the fifth major sport, since today it is very much a fringe affair not covered at all by most daily papers.

Kimball attended all nine of the fights and works hard to bring the reader back to these important and usually memorable bouts. For anyone who watched all the fights, or at least some of them, "Four Kings" brings back some wonderful memories.

As a Boston sports fan, I can recall when Hagler was as important to the local sports scene as the Bruins or Patriots. He was massively popular in the late 70's and 80's, his heyday. And his greatness is given full credit herein.

So read this book if you recall these fights, as Kimball does a solid job recapturing a lost era.

One note: a free pass is given the heinous boxing promoter Bob Arum. Apparently, Kimball and he are on good relations. Arum is almost as bad as Don King, and in my view is almost as responsible for boxing's demise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bret Dougherty on October 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While we're growing long-in-the-teeth for the great rivalries of the '80s to return to the ring, I picked up George Kimball's `Four Kings: Leonard, Hearns, Hagler, Duran, and the Last Great Era of Boxing.'

Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran are among the major colonnades of the '70s and '80s for boxing. A lot of fight fans can argue what era and class remains the golden age of boxing. Yet, when you observe the careers of these four fighters, you would be hard-pressed to argue against the tenure of their time.

In fact, if HBO and their mesmerizing 24/7 series portrayals of boxers today would have been available in the mid-80s, boxing would have remained one of the most popular sports today. I just wish that someone could turn the classic footage from the HBO Boxing preludes for each fight into a mini 24-7 series...HBO's Greatest Fights are close, but we need more.

Yes, it's true. The stories of Leonard, Duran, Hearns, and Hagler and how they intertwined haven't been highly described or investigated in detail. Fortunately, Kimball had the inside look at each fighter's climb with his job writing at the Boston Herald.

Throughout the book, he details the camp, pre-lim fights, and although Kimball interjects a lot of his own personal recollections and `I was there' descriptions that can stall the stroies, he provides sharp detail in each fighter's career. He also gives the chewy analysis upon how each fighter intertwined with one another for each fight.

Yet, the treats are found in the details provided by his notes and hanging with the great men who were in the corners.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Diaz on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you are no longer interested in boxing; If Don King's world of Pay Per View and the lack of personalities in the sport have killed your interest; Please allow George Kimball to take you back to another era. If you're under 40 you probably won't believe me. Once upon a time, boxing was bigger than football.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gisela Hausmann on August 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Pete Hamill, American journalist and novelist, writes in his Foreword to George Kimball's book "This book is about the last Golden Age of boxing. That is, it is about a time when the matches themselves transcended the squalor of the business side of the sport, and focused only on the men who fought."

This lucky reviewer was privileged to see the end of this era, to watch the last two of the nine super fights these four boxers fought with each other. Thus I was delighted to find this beautiful book, which told me details I had never heard, even though I followed the fighters and the sport closely. "Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing" radiates the feeling boxing fans had in these glorious days.

Naturally, all of it began with the childhood of the four kings, Duran, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard. Please note that I listed their names in alphabetical order because I do not want to give preference to any of them; the book makes clear how each of them helped to bring out the best in all others. Kimball tells us how it happened.

Duran came from the very poorest circumstances: "Food was scarce; unable to care for him, his mother literally gave the boy away on several occasions. He (Duran) followed Toti to a boxing gym at the age of eight, and had his first amateur bout a year later."

Hagler was shy: "On his first night Hagler once again watched in silence. On the second, Goody (Petronelli) walked over and asked with a smile, "Hey, kid, do you want to learn how to fight?" "That's what I'm here for," said Marvin. Goody told him to come back the next night and bring along his gear. Gear? All he had was a pair of cutoff jeans and some tennis shoes.
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