The story of the first brothers to capture the world heavyweight title, Leon and Michael Spinks, who fought their way out of the projects, took on the biggest names in boxing (including Ali and Tyson), and made millions of dollars…. But one brother would find himself strung-out, back in the projects.
This story of two brothers who used boxing as a way to escape the ghetto and become the first siblings to both hold the heavyweight title has the ring of Hollywood movie. But this is a true story and, despite the moments of victory, all the endings are bittersweet and much too honest and muted to be cheered by the popcorn crowd. Told in chronological order, from the brothers upbringing in the notorious Pruitt-Igoe housing projects in St. Louis to their gold medal turns at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and subsequent pro careers, the writers do a great job intertwining their subjects life stories with the social and political action of the era. Also, by expertly juxtaposing Leon s carefree, self-destructive personality with Michael s conscientious, dedicated nature, it creates a palpable tension that binds the brothers parallel yet contrary tales. Following the Spinks pro careers, the second half of the book is a great introduction to the heavyweight division from the late 1960s to the early 80s that leads to an interesting exploration of what the positive and negative impact has been for the young black men who have held the title. Just as much about America s racial and socioeconomic situation as it is an exploration of the dynamics of family and the history of the sweet science, this work doesn t knock you over the head but it teaches a lesson.