Boxing doesn’t like to remember the good times. Rose-tinted glasses, shining Olympic post boxes and gleaming bronze statues are for football and the big-ticket names in track and field. Those sports require sacrifice, dedication and the ability to perform at the very highest level, but they don’t ask for blood. A boxer can take a thousand hits to the head and never make it. Step out from the shadows, punch hard and if you’re lucky, grab the belts. And when it’s over, you’re gone. Beaten by better. Knocked out by younger. Driven back to the shadows by hungrier. No sport lives more in the moment than boxing.
Some fighters of course successfully imprint their name on the fabric of time. Ali was one of them. Foreman another. But the sport’s trainers, cut men and cornermen are all but lost, which is why books like Todd D Snyder’s Bundini are so important. They make sure we don’t forget.
Bundini was with Muhammad Ali for most of his career and his impact on Ali’s success cannot be underestimated. Bundini came up with ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ and acted as the champ’s motivational coach, or ‘Muhammad Ali’s spirit’ as George Forman put it. Snyder’s excellent research into Bundini’s somewhat chaotic life, shows a complicated man who drew on his own life to motivate others. Accompanied by a short documentary by Patrick Green, this book digs deep into an improbable story of a navy steward who travelled the world and took what he learned first to Harlem, then direct to Muhammad Ali, before moving to Hollywood to appear in films such as Shaft and The Colour Purple. It’s a life best summed up by Bundini’s own words, ‘Rumble young man rumble!’, and language like that can make champions of the world. Recommended.
Don’t Believe The Hype: Bundini, Todd F. Snyder
Hamilcar Publications, £21.99