Arminius's Reviews > Give Him to the Angels

Give Him to the Angels by James R. Fair
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's review
May 29, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: sports, nook-book
Read from May 29 to June 02, 2011

I bought “Give him to the Angels The Story of Harry Greb” because I wanted to learn about one of the all time greatest boxers and I always find boxing history books interesting. In this case, I accomplished the former but not the latter. Harry Greb was a middleweight and light heavyweight champion of the late teens and 1920’s.

He grew up in Pittsburgh to a strict German father who wanted Harry to be either a brick mason or a professional baseball player. He would always brag about how good Harry was at baseball but would never acknowledge Harry’s boxing skills. Harry would leave his home in his teens to pursue the sport that he loved and was made for.

His professional record is an incredible 104 wins with just 8 losses. He fought and beat the best of the era. He defeated an all-time great middleweight in what was somewhat of a superbout of the 1920’s. He is also the only person to defeat the great Gene Tunney. The list of all time greats he defeated is very, very impressive. This extraordinary list includes Tommy Laughlin, Battling Levinsky and Maxie Rosenbloom. Although weighing around 160 pounds he still fought men much larger than himself and beat them handily. For example, he knocked out 210 pound Al Benedict in 1922.

He was known for his nonstop fistic action. He was also known for, what in today’s boxing world would be considered illegal, but was commonplace in the early 20th Century boxing world. This included kneeing, using elbows and thumbing the opponent’s eyes. A thumb to his eye by Kid Norfolk in 1924 left him blind in the right eye. Incredibly he continued fighting with one eye for another two years.

He didn’t drink or smoke but he always had women around to party with. He rarely trained. Instead he continually boxed. He would schedule 3 fights in one week. He believed that the actual match is better training than the traditional boxing workout. At the age of 32 he retired, after losing his title to Tiger Flowers and robbed of a decision in the rematch, a wealthy man. Always conscious of his looks, he was remarkably not scared from over 100 boxing matches except that his nose was bent. So he goes to a plastic surgeon to repair his nose. Yes, there were plastic surgeons in the 1920’s apparently. As someone living in the 21st C might expect, they weren’t what we might call –capable. Harry would die on the surgeons table the result of an infection.

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03/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Great review!! Very interesting story but the ending to his life was very bizarre and tragic!!

Arminius A point mentioned in the book about boxing and brain injuries. Ray Arcel was a long time boxing trainer. The book quotes him as saying that he has seen thoudands of knockouts and the fighters that were KO'ed showed no signs of mental decline. Also he said the boxers he saw that were slow after their boxing career were also slow before they began their boxing career.

message 3: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Interesting... I guess that answers the question I asked you before. Thanks.

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