Sports Writer Gabe Oppenheim Releases 'Boxing in Philadelphia' Book

Boxing in Philadelphia by Gabe Oppenheim
Boxing in Philadelphia by Gabe Oppenheim

With his debut book Boxing in Philadelphia: Tales of Struggle and Survival, Philly sports writer Gabe Oppenheim realizes a longtime dream of his by placing the City of Brotherly Love, its classic pugilists and historic events of the fight game alongside other legendary boxing towns and arenas. Oppenheim read from his book in Philadelphia last night (February 17), and will do so again on March 24 at the Muhlenberg Branch of the New York Public Library (209 West 23rd Street, NYC, 212.924.1585).

Within 250 pages published by Rowman & Littlefield, Oppenheim’s Boxing in Philadelphia presents this town as essential to the birth of the sport: how Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champ, fought more times in Philly than any other town; how legends such as Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali had Philadelphia trainers; how Sugar Ray Robinson held his first promotional contract in Philly. Of course, Oppenheim also writes about Philadelphia boxing greats from past and present, including “Gypsy” Joe Harris, Joe Frazier, Meldrick “The Kid” Taylor and Bernard Hopkins.

“I think the book is great because the boxers and the city are stand-ins, really, for the hard workers in every tough urban city that has been gutted by de-industrialization and must reinvent itself,” says Oppenheim. “This book is about what happened when the times were good, when Philly thrived, the same as Baltimore and Camden and Newark and Detroit. And it's about their slide into joblessness, violence, loss. And about the will to fight out of those holes, out of that corner into which you're pinned. Hell, this book is about the American century. And on a personal level, Boxing in Philadelphia is about the depth and strength and breaking point of a person's will, or as the boxers would call it - heart.”

Book jacket photo courtesy of Gabe Oppenheim

Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2015