Joe Bruno on Boxing – Book Review — The Professional by WC Heinz

Being a boxing writer myself for many years, I can now totally appreciate it when people told me for years that “The Professional” by W.C. Heinz was the best boxing book ever written and one of the greatest novels of all time. There’s even an introduction by iconic Elmore Leonard, where he credits Heinz as being one of his mentors.

The book, written in 1958, is basically the life in the training camp of a fighter named Eddie Brown, who after a long boxing career, is finally getting a shot at a world’s title. His crusty manager Doc Carroll has been around boxing forever, but Eddie Brown is Doc’s last shot at achieving immortality in a sport Doc so obviously detests. Eddie seems to like everyone and Doc trusts no one, which makes for some interesting discourses concerning the inner workings of a sport that has been run by crooks and thieves since the start of the 20th Century.

The book is written from the third person view point of sportswriter Frank Hughes, who accompanies Eddie to training camp, trying to grasp the essence of a boxer’s life while he’s preparing for the biggest moment in his life. Frank is no more than a fly on the wall, trying to help out Eddie and Doc, but at the same time keeping a detachment that will make his magazine article impartial and true.

The professional is a must read for boxing fans, but those who don’t really care for the sport can enjoy this book too, firm in the knowledge that W.C. Heinz is right on the mark with his observations about a slimy sport that has not changed much from when this book was written 52 years ago.

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