One Punch from the Promised Land: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title

One Punch from the Promised Land: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title

by John Florio, Ouisie Shapiro
     
 

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It was 1976 when Leon and Michael Spinks first punched their way into America's living rooms. That year, they became the first brothers to win Olympic gold in the same Games. Shortly thereafter, they became the first brothers to win the heavyweight title: Leon toppled The Greatest, Muhammad Ali; Michael beat the unbeatable Larry Holmes. With a cast of

Overview

It was 1976 when Leon and Michael Spinks first punched their way into America's living rooms. That year, they became the first brothers to win Olympic gold in the same Games. Shortly thereafter, they became the first brothers to win the heavyweight title: Leon toppled The Greatest, Muhammad Ali; Michael beat the unbeatable Larry Holmes. With a cast of characters that includes Ali, Holmes, Mike Tyson, Gerry Cooney, Dwight Qawi, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and dozens of friends, relatives, and boxing figures, ONE PUNCH FROM THE PROMISED LAND tells the unlikely story of the Spinks brothers. Their rise from the Pruitt-Igoe housing disaster. Their divergent paths of success. And their relationship with America. The book also uncovers stories never before made public: the big paydays, the high living, the backroom deals. It's not afraid to tackle an issue rarely discussed: Does the heavyweight title deliver on its promise to young men in the inner city? This is the definitive story of Leon and Michael Spinks. And a cross-examination of heavyweight boxing in 20th century America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Elizabeth Evans, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"I've lived in St. Louis more than half of my life. I first crossed paths with the Spinks brothers in 1976. Yet, all I knew of Michael and Leon were their ring records and the public caricatures of their personalities. Steady, dependable Michael. Wild, self-destructive Leon. Well written and deeply sourced, 'One Punch from the Promised Land' fills in a lot of blanks." —Bob Costas, award-winning journalist and sportscaster, NBC Sports and MLB Network "The first brothers to both claim the world heavyweight championship, Leon and Michael Spinks finally have a book worthy of the unlikely dramatic arc of their gap-toothed lives. Theirs is a uniquely American story—about not only realizing the dream of rising to great heights, but also the struggle to stay there. John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro deliver a vivid and compelling dual biography populated by the giants and demons of boxing's last golden age." —Jeremy Schaap, ESPN reporter and New York Times best-selling author of Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History "This is a book about two brothers who became heavyweight champions and a relationship that stretches across the bonds of poverty and hope, fragility and strength. This is the way it happened with the Brothers Spinks. It's a story that transcends boxing. I know. I was there." —Jerry Izenberg, author, and nationally syndicated sports columnist, Newark Star-Ledger"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…. [T]he 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…. 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." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762783007
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/03/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

John Florio is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in print, on the web, and on television. He is also the author of the novel, Sugar Pop Moon. Visit him at johnfloriowriter.com.Ouisie Shapiro is a five-time Emmy-winning writer and producer of sports documentaries. Her writing credits include HBO's Joe Louis: America's Hero Betrayed; Namath: Beaver Falls to Broadway; and Lombardi. She has also produced ESPN SportsCentury documentaries on Jack Dempsey, Sonny Liston, and Rocky Marciano, among others.

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