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Boxer's Heart, The [Paperback]

Kate Sekules
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 26 2012
"I fought to shake things up, to play with the world. If I--sometime bookworm, singer in a band, Londoner, magazine editor, fiction writer, hotel and restaurant critic, softball addict, Caucasian of mixed heritage, pony-mad child, expatriate--could become a convincing pugilist, then anything under the sun is possible."

So says Kate Sekules, the author of this brilliantly candid memoir and first-ever guide to the world of women's boxing. The story of how an averagely talented athlete converted her visceral dislike of violence into a short but eventful career as a professional boxer makes irresistible reading for both fans and foes of what used to be "The Manly Art."
        After growing up in London during the seventies and eighties, Sekules hit New York in 1992 and quickly happened upon something she hadn't realized she was seeking. In the mirror-lined gyms of SoHo and later at Gleason's Gym--the famous training ground of world champion boxers--she found herself in the right place at the right time to participate in the birth of a movement and an astonishing new direction for women. Sekules explains the mysteries of this most mythologized of sports and introduces the reader to trainers and fighters both famous and obscure, both male and female. With razor-sharp insight, she dissects her conflicting feelings on approaching the prize-fighting ring, drawing the reader in every step of the way.
        Sekules's account unfolds with the pace and depth of a great novel, crammed with larger-than-life characters and piercing observations about matters that concern us all: the nature of masculinity and femininity; love and conflict in the ring and in relationships; trust, fear, pain, and the uses of aggression. Along the way, the author casts new light on the confused state of gender roles today, deals a death blow to issues of weight that have plagued women for decades, recounts the secret history of women in the ring, and delivers a primer on how to box--all in a fresh, conspiratorial, and highly entertaining voice.
        Any woman who has grappled with anger and trust, been nagged by insecurity at the gym, or wondered what it feels like to throw a punch will identify with this witty and honest author's experience. Any man who has imagined stepping into the ring, or been baffled by the mysteries of the female, will want to add this one-of-a-kind to his shelf of sports books. It is a remarkable literary debut--with a very big heart.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

"The sweet science of bruising" is how travel editor Sekules describes the art of boxing. In her memoir she documents the sport in unflinching detailAfrom a round-by-round recap of her first professional match to the often maternal relationship between a boxer and her trainer. The major underlying theme of the book isAnot surprisinglyAgender issues. While women have been boxing since the 18th century, Sekules discovers there is no model of behavior for women in the male-dominated world of modern boxing, and to her disappointment, she finds that the women who are involved are not interested in any kind of female camaraderie. As expected, her participation in the sport causes waves with the men surrounding her. Her boyfriend displays a new penchant for masochism in bed, which she quickly tires of, and a male boxer tells her over e-mail that he pays women to beat him up in the ring. Her trainer develops a crush on her and pouts at inopportune times when he is rebuffed. And a sports journalist calls her hours before a professional match and reveals that he is "titillated" by "catfights." From boxers, she writes, "I was learning to transfer weight from weight to fist and also from problem to tool." If by book's end, the problems are not solved (or even solvable), it is apparent that Sekules has all the tools she needs and more. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Sekules, the travel editor at Food and Wine , took a boxercise aerobics class in Brooklyn in the mid-nineties and, before long, was a regular at Gleason's, America's oldest continuously operating fight gym, where she trained alongside the famous, the infamous, the hopeless, and the helpless. Initially, boxing was a way for Sekules to explore the glorious grit of the gym and to show off to her literary friends ("I hang out with real boxers"). But soon the sport had her hooked. She relished the determination, skill, stamina, and artistry the ring demands of its successful inhabitants. In addition to chronicling her own odyssey, this memoir supplies keen reflections on the rise of women's boxing and the struggle to keep it from becoming a freak show on pay-per-view undercards. Boxing has its seamy side, too, and despite her infatuation, Sekules had no trouble spotting the con artists and self-serving promoters looking to flimflam a naive young fighter. This is an immensely entertaining, intelligent book that will appeal to boxing fans as well as athletes considering entering a new arena. It will also appeal to the same readers drawn to Dowling's Frailty Myth (see review on p.49). Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Boxer's heart April 24 2001
I read this book with interest...Her book certainly explores the way in which women may find an outlet for their physical and emotional problems through the activity of boxing, although it need not be associated with significant pain or violence. I recommend her book...for individuals interested in reading about the way that women can gain satisfaction in their own lives through the the sport of boxing....
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read. Feb. 4 2001
My wife recently brought this book home from the library with great excitement, after telling me that she had met and become friends with the author a number of years earlier at a writers' workshop in Vermont. I picked up the book out of curiosity, mostly about boxing (of which I know very little).
For me, this book immediately worked on the most important level - as a vivid, inside account of what it is like to become a boxer, to train at a famous fight gymnasium, and ultimately to enter the ring as a professional. The book is also a lot more: an intelligent meditation on the history and technique of the "sweet science," a reflection on feminism, gender politics, and the vicissitudes of body image, and a narrative arc describing one woman's journey in synthesizing meaning from her personal experience. The juxtaposition of these elements is an ambitious undertaking, and the success of the author in so doing derives as much from her gifted prose style as from her observations and insights regarding the world of pugilism.
Anyone interested in boxing, sports, and/or feminism will find this book compelling, as will anyone who enjoys a good story. I am looking forward to reading Sekules's next book - on whatever topic about which she next decides to write.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Oct. 8 2000
I loved this book! I loved it so much I'm not sure where to begin this review! It is certainly well written, entertaining and witty. She also makes many observations about female fighting, and being a woman in this world in general. I am a brown belt in karate, and I really identified with some of her experiences. I found her to be a very honest and emotionally courageous writer. It's a great glimpse into the world of women's boxing but beyond that it's an entertaining and thoughtful memoir.
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