Sweet Thunder by Wil Haygood
The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson

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Haygood's prose is highly-stylized, with a self-conscious, jazzy rhythm, and it soars in places.
-Globe and Mail


Sugar Ray Robinson was not only one of the most iconic figures of the fight game; almost all sportswriters agree that he was the greatest boxer of all time. This illuminating biography grounds the spectacular story of Robinson’s rise to greatness within the context of the fighter’s life and times. Born Walker Smith Jr. in 1921, Robinson’s early childhood was marked by the seething racial tensions and explosive race riots that infected the Midwest throughout the twenties and thirties. After his mother moved him and his sisters to the relative safety of Harlem, he came of age in the vibrant post-Renaissance years. It was there that--encouraged to box by his mother, who wanted him off the streets--he soon became a rising star, cutting an electrifying, glamorous figure, riding around town in his famous pink Cadillac. Beyond the celebrity, though, Robinson would emerge as a powerful, often controversial black symbol in a rapidly changing America.

            From Robinson’s gruesome six-bout war with Jake “Raging Bull” LaMotta and his lethal meeting with Jimmy Doyle to his Harlem nightclub years and thwarted show-biz dreams, Haygood brings the champion’s story, in the ring and out, powerfully to life against a vividly painted backdrop of the world he captivated.


About Wil Haygood

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Wil Haygood is a prizewinning staff writer for The Washington Post and an acclaimed biographer. His In Black and White was internationally praised. Among his honors are the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Published April 1, 2011 by Chicago Review Press. 479 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Sports & Outdoors, History. Non-fiction
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Globe and Mail

Reviewed by STEPHEN BRUNT on Aug 23 2012

Haygood's prose is highly-stylized, with a self-conscious, jazzy rhythm, and it soars in places.

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