Being Sugar Ray: The Life of Sugar Ray Robinson, America's Greatest Boxer and First Celebrity Athlete

Kenneth Shropshire, Author
Kenneth Shropshire, Author Basic Civitas Books $25 (246p) ISBN 978-0-465-07803-5
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-0-465-07804-2
Open Ebook - 273 pages - 978-0-7867-3245-6
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Shropshire (The Business of Sports Agents) calls this ""the biography of an idea"": Sugar Ray Robinson as the first sports figure to engineer a synergistic success machine out of a flashy image, a fancy entourage and a business plan. Indeed, rather than a straight recount of the storied fighter's life, Shropshire uses scenes from it to create a prism through which the phenomenon of the celebrity athlete reveals itself. Consequently, this volume often reads like a CliffsNotes version of the African-American boxer's troubled youth, 25-year career, restless retirement and demise. Though hardly a saint in or out of the ring, Robinson carved a legacy that Shropshire contends athletes have been trying to emulate (consciously or otherwise) ever since. Race obviously plays a big role in Robinson's story, and the author (African-American himself) handles the topic admirably; on the subject of contemporary sports stars, however, he isn't as evenhanded, making examples of the usual suspects-Kobe Bryant, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss-and arguing how each could learn from Robinson's example. Vivid, present-tense you-are-there retellings of boxing matches balance nicely a narrative that often runs dry on textbook-like prose.
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