Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Eleven

By Peter Weston Wood on August 1, 2014
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Eleven
Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” has been a constant presence for most of my adult life.

Reading a book is a very personal thing and I’d prefer not to name any one book. I’d prefer to keep my personal interests private…

I asked professional fighters to finish this sentence: “MY FAVORITE BOOK IS…” Their responses were fascinating and illuminating; sometimes surprising and sometimes just plain funny. 

If the adage, “We are what we eat” is true, then “We are what we read” might also be true.

Read the responses of these tough guys, (and tough girls), and peek into the soul of a prizefighter.

Their book could be fiction, nonfiction, memoir, autobiography, history, sport-related, or not. We simply wanted to peek into their soul and see what book—as a kid, or now—knocked them out!

Below, are their responses. Enjoy!

1. Leo Randolph—WBA Super Bantamweight Champion—beat Ricardo Cardona via 15th round TKO

o Defeated Baby Kid Chocolate (W 10)
o Defeated Tony Rocha (KO 2)
o Defeated Oscar Muniz (SD 10)
o Flyweight Gold medalist at the 1976 Summer Olympics
o 1975 National Golden Gloves Flyweight Champion
o 1976 National AAU Flyweight Champion
o Named the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year for 1976, along with his fellow U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in boxing (Howard Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, and Michael Spinks)
o Amateur Record: 160-7
o 2005 Inductee into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame
o Won 17 (KO 9) + lost 2 (KO 1) + drawn 0 = 19 rounds boxed 119 : KO% 47.37

Leo Randolph’s Favorite Book: “The Bible”

“The Bible is the most inspirational and motivational book going. You can’t beat it. It’s The Heavyweight Champion of Books. I also read magazines. ‘Ebony’ is a great read. It’s inspirational, as well, but not as inspirational as The Bible.”

2. Jim Amato—Veteran Ohio-Based Boxing Writer

o Began covering fights in 1992, reporting for Boxing Illustrated
o Has contributed articles to Boxing World, Boxing Times, Heavyhitters, Cleveland’s East Side Daily newspaper, The Neutral Corner and the IBRO Journal
o Member of the Boxing Writers Association Of America (BWAA)
o Member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO), founded by Hall Of Famer Ralph Citro
o On the Publicity Committee for the American Association For The Improvement Of Boxing (AAIB)co-founded by Steve Acunto and the late Rocky Marciano
o Member of the Ohio State Former Boxers And Associates and the Trumball County Of Ohio Legends Of Leather

Jim Amato’s Favorite Book: “Boxing Is My Sanctuary” by Ted Sares

“‘Boxing Is My Sanctuary’ by Ted Sares is just a wonderful book. As I said in my review of this book…‘Ted Sares is the A.J. Liebling of our time.’”

3. Roman Greenberg—Won the IBO Intercontinental Championship by 6th round TKO against Alex Vassiliev in March 2006

o Defeated Colin Kenna (W 8)
o Defeated Steve Pannell (TKO 3)
o Defeated Julius Francis (W 10)
o Defeated Alex Varakin (KO 6)
o Defeated Josh Gutcher (TKO 4)
o Defeated Kendrick Releford (W 10)
o Won a silver medal at the Junior World Championships in 2000
o Speaks four languages: Hebrew, Russian, German, and English
o Won 27 (KO 18) + lost 1 (KO 1) + drawn 0 = 28 rounds boxed 137 : KO% 64.29

Roman Greenberg’s Favorite Book: “False Flag: The Soviet Spy Who Penetrated the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service” by Zeev Avni

“This was an incredible story about a Russian spy, Zeev Avni, who penetrated the Mossad. His story is true, but it reads like a novel.”

4. “Merciless” Mike Mollo—WBA Federation Heavyweight Titleholder

o Defeated Kevin McBride (TKO 2)
o Defeated Troy Weida (TKO 1)
o Defeated Art Binkowski (TKO 2)
o Won 20 (KO 12) + lost 5 (KO 3) + drawn 1 = 26 rounds boxed 108 KO% 46.15

”Merciless” Mike Mollo’s Favorite Book: “The Use of the Body” by Rocky Marciano

“I grew up watching film of Rocky Marciano. Both of our families came from Naples, Italy, so Rocky was a hero to my family. My strength and conditioning coach Joe Wright gave me a rare book written by Rocky called ‘The Use of the Body.’ Joe found this book in 1967 while he was somewhere in England. I’ve been reading it and it’s a masterpiece.”

5. Eddie Goldman—Host of “No Holds Barred” audio interviews on Blogger

o Wrote for
o A senior contributing editor at Tapout (formerly Bodyguard) Magazine and writes the o Combat Sports News page on
o Runs ( )
o Editor and writer for,, the ADCC News Page, Penthouse, the Extreme Fighting web site, Grappling, Inside Kung Fu, Gracie Magazine, Wrestling International Newsmagazine, Full Contact Fighter,, and numerous other publications and websites
o Narrator in the film “The Smashing Machine”
o Producer of “Knockout Radio” on, and co-host and co-producer of “Light Show” on WBAI-FM
o Color commentator and analyst for IFC mixed martial arts and USKBA kickboxing TV broadcasts and videos
o A member of the Boxing Writers Association of America
o Won third place for Boxing Event Coverage in the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2003 Barney Awards for excellence in boxing journalism
o Was voted 2000 Journalist of the Year by the readers of
o Graduated Columbia with a history major and a philosophy minor, and did graduate work in magazine publishing at NYU
o Wrestled in high school

Eddie Goldman’s Favorite Book: “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”

“My favorite book? Easy. ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X.’ I read it when I was 17, a senior in Lynbrook High School—a suburban Long Island community which transposed the letters of ‘Brooklyn’ to come up with its name—‘Lynbrook.’ Well, this book opened my eyes to what was happening throughout America—the horrible racism and the gross inequities which permeated American society. Its impact has always remained with me.”

6. George Kimball—Author of “FOUR KINGS: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing”

o Winner of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism from BWAA, 1985
o Longtime columnist for the Boston Herald
o Wrote columns for The Irish Times,, and Boxing Digest
o Freelance writer, broadcaster and occasional book critic (for The Irish Times and The Boston Phoenix

George Kimball’s Favorite Book: “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

“I’m a pretty voracious reader, and might go through two or three books a week. My tastes are pretty eclectic, ranging from fiction (Richard Price’s ‘Lush Life,’ Dennis Lehane’s ‘The Given Day,’ and pretty much anything by Larry McMurtry) to poetry (‘Gunslinger’ by Edward Dorn) to journalism collections (A.J. Liebling, Pete Hamill, John Schulian, Pete Dexter, Hugh McIlvanney), history, and biography. My favorite boxing books are a couple that deal with the seamy underside of the sport—Budd Schulberg’s ‘The Harder They Fall’ and Leonard Gardner’s “Fat City’—a truly great, underappreciated novel. (‘Fat City”’was published 40 years ago. It was Gardner’s first novel, and also his last; he’s never written another one.) But if you’re going to pin me down to one book, it would have to come from among those I liked so much that I’ve read them over and over again. J.P. Donleavy’s ‘The Ginger Man’ and Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ would be among those, but Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ has been a constant presence for most of my adult life. I first read it in my teens, and I read it in my twenties, in my thirties, forties, and fifties, and when the ‘Original Scroll’ version came out a couple of years ago, I read it again in my sixties.”

7. John McCain—Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential election

o McCain introduced the “Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform of 2000,” which he introduced with Richard Bryan of Nevada
o First led Congress to enact the self-explanatory “Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996”
o Senior United States Senator from Arizona
o Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958
o Became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire
o In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese.
o Was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.
o Retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981
o Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982
o Served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily in 1992, 1998, and 2004
o Boxed in the Navy

John McCain’s Favorite Book: “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon

“In captivity, McCain used to act out scenes from books and movies to keep his mind sharp. In addition to Hemingway, he loves the stories of W. Somerset Maugham, ‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and James Fennimore Cooper’s ‘Leatherstocking Tales,’ especially ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ (he remembers the N.C. Wyeth illustrations). He likes William Faulkner in small doses…he has read—twice—Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ (NYT Book Review, 11/2/08, p.27).

8. Mia “The Knockout” St. John—WBC International Female Welterweight Champion

o Former IFBA International Female Lightweight Champion
o Defeated Amy Yuratovac (W 8)
o Defeated Franchesca Alcanter (W 4)
o Defeated Joy Irvin (TKO 2)
o Defeated Donna Biggers (W 10)
o Compiled a Tae Kwon Do record of 27-1; was awarded a black belt, and worked as a model to fund her education
o Attended California State University, Northridge, earning a degree in Psychology
o Appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine
o Created the non-profit foundation “El Saber Es Poder”
o Won 47 (KO 18) + lost 14 (KO 5) + drawn 2 = 63 rounds boxed 292 KO% 28.57

Mia “The Knockout” St. John’s Favorite Book: “A Sentence With the District” by Beto Gutierrez

“I love this book because the author is fearless in exposing our failing school system. Every child in this country, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, has a right to a proper education. My mother always used to say to me, ‘El saber es poder!’”

9. Jeff Jowett—Veteran Boxing Writer

o Reporter for Boxing Digest
o Wrote for Ring Magazine
o Wrote for Boxing Illustrated
o Amateur referee

Jeff Jowett’s Favorite Book: “African Genesis” by Robert Ardrey

“This requires a lot of thought! Still not sure about best book, but the best thing I ever read is easy: a short story by James Joyce, ‘Araby.’ Does in five pages what took Cervantes about 900…As to books, that’s tough. For one, there probably should be a distinction between different types, like fiction and non. Probably my best non-fiction is ‘African Genesis’ by Robert Ardrey, because it exposes the lie of Special Creation which religion is commonly built upon; i.e., that humans are somehow ‘special’ and not part of or responsible to the rest of the biosphere. From here, you have a platform for the brutalization and exploitation of other animals, but also each other, because all you have to do is make some other race or ethnicity somehow ‘less’ than you are, and all bets are off…‘Notes From the Underground’ by Dostoyevsky is technically fiction, but really straddles the genre with political diatribe. To me, it’s an epiphany. Of course, I’m not going to boldly claim I’m getting it right, but it seems to me he’s saying that what humans cherish more than anything else is to be an asshole; i.e., naked self-assertion for no other purpose. And in Russia, they knew how to deal with this: the Gulag…Then to fiction…well, for pure artistry of writing, leading the thought pack right now I suppose would be ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier. I can’t believe scholars regard her as just a 2nd-rate hack! I thought this was so well constructed. I love description, and I thought the descriptions of the estate, the manners, the customs, the etiquette, and the narrative character’s unease and embarrassment are superb. The leading character is already dead by the start of the book, yet has an existence and an influence more vivid than the living characters. The narrative character is so dwarfed that she is never even given a name, yet I didn’t even realize this until about three-quarters through!...Also much in the running would be ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams, and I’d be inexcusably remiss not to include ‘Lolita’...Let’s see,,,some other ‘bests’... Best play I ever saw: ‘Our Town’...Best jazz album: ‘Kind of Blue,’ Miles Davis…Best any album: Again Miles, with Gil Evans, ‘Sketches of Spain’... Favorite painter (I don’t know near enough about art to use the word ‘best’): Renoir, just an eyelash ahead of Toulouse…Favorite art critic: Of course! Sister Wendy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...Greatest song: ‘Londonderry Air’ (a/k/a Danny Boy)...Best melody: Duke Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’...Most beautiful chick ever: Valerie Bertinelli… Hottest chick ever: This defies challenge! Where do you begin???????? Could be Betty Page…The Greatest Man in the World—unquestionably—Don Elbaum!!!!!”

10. Jack “K.O. J.O.” Obermayer—Veteran New Jersey-based Boxing Writer

o Wrote for Boxing Digest
o Wrote for Ring Magazine
o Wrote for Boxing Illustrated
o Wrote for Flash Gordon’s Fight Programs
o Wrote for Fight Fax
o Amateur record: 16-7

Jack “K.O. J.O.” Obermayer’s Favorite Book: “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough

“I love history and I love New York, that’s why I loved this book. In the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge was viewed as the greatest engineering feat of mankind. The Roeblings—father and son—toiled for decades, fighting competitors, corrupt politicians, and the laws of nature to build a bridge which, after 100 years, still provides one of the major avenues of access to New York City.”

11. Mark Medal—Inaugural IBF Light Middleweight Champion—March 11,1984 – Nov. 2, 1984

o Defeated Earl Hargroves (TKO 5)
o Defeated Ali Perez (KO 3)
o Defeated Frank Minnigan (KO 3)
o Defeated Dexter Smith (W 10)
o Defeated Kevin Howard (W 10)
o Trivia: Mark Medal and Rocky Marciano are the only fighters to have Grossinger t-shirts with their names printed on the back!
o Won 24 (KO 20) + lost 3 (KO 2) + drawn 1 = 28 rounds boxed 151 : KO% 71.43

Mark Medal’s Favorite Book: “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss

“My favorite book? Well, that has to be…’The Cat in the Hat!’”

12. Dan Goossen—President of Goossen Tutor Promotions

o Discovered and managed the career of bouncer-turned-actor Mr. T in the late 1970s
o Guided Michael Nunn, Terry Norris & the Ruelas Brothers, Gabe and Rafael
o Named “2001 Promoter of the Year” by the WBA
o Currently promotes or has promoted:
o WBO Welterweight World Champion, Paul Williams
o IBF Featherweight World Champion, Robert Guerrero
o WBO #1 world heavyweight contender, Tony Thompson
o Mexican heavyweight sensation Cristobal Arreola
o U.S. Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward
o Heavyweight Eddie Chambers
o World Champion James Toney
o “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather
o The only person in the USA to hold a boxing manager’s & promoter’s license simultaneously in the 1980s
o A member of the Task Force on the Betterment of Boxing testifying at the Boxing Reform Senate Hearings sponsored by and presided over by Senator John McCain
o A member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame

Dan Goossen’s Favorite Book: “Treasure Island” by Robert L. Stevenson

“My favorite book was ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. First, and foremost, it was the very first book I read, other than a school book. Secondly, it was interesting to read an adventure story about a colorful pirate. Thirdly, what made ‘Treasure Island’ even more significant was that this book was chosen to be Walt Disney’s first live-action film, which, for me, was thrilling.”

13. Ron Scott Stevens—Appointed Chairman to the New York State Athletic Commission in 2003. He served two terms in this capacity until July 25, 2008

o Held licenses as a ring announcer, matchmaker and promoter
o Editor/ Writer for several boxing magazines
o Awarded the Rocky Marciano Official’s Award in 2006 by the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing (“AAIB”)
o Awarded the James A. Farley Award for Honesty and Integrity by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2007
o Playwright

Ron Scott Stevens’s Favorite Book: “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis

“What’s my favorite book? Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s either ‘Elmer Gantry’ by Sinclair Lewis or ‘The Fixer’ or ‘The Natural’ by Bernard Malamud or ‘From Here To Eternity’ by James Jones or ‘Winds of War’ by Herman Wouk or ‘The Black Lights’ by Thomas Hauser. How about I give you my favorite movie? It’s either ‘On the Waterfront’ or ‘The Hustler’ with Paul Newman. When I look at these titles I see, for the most part, there is a common theme—they’re all about the underdog, or anti-hero, and they are also about the way life is, rather than the way we want it to be.”

14. Teddy Atlas—Well-known boxing trainer and fight commentator
o Trained Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson
o Trained Heavyweight Champion Michael Moorer
o Trained Featherweight Champion Barry McGuigan
o Trained Canadian light-heavyweight Donny Lalonde
o Trained light heavyweight contender Chris Reid
o Boxing commentator for NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008)
o Published his autobiography, “Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring: A Son’s Struggle to Become a Man” in 2006
o Serves as commentator on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights and Wednesday Night Fights
o Won the Sam Taub Award for excellence in boxing broadcasting journalism
o Founded The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, a New York-based 501(c)(3) community service organization that provides financial, legal and emotional support to individuals and organizations in need

Teddy Atlas’s Favorite Book: N/A

“Reading is such an important activity. I have a lot of favorite books I’ve enjoyed over the years. Reading a book is a very personal thing and I’d prefer not to name any one book. I’d prefer to keep my personal interests private. Some books I’ve valued because of my father, some books because of my own tastes. But all of the books I’ve read have been profitable.”

15. Alex “The Destroyer” Stewart—Rugged heavyweight contender in the 1980s and ‘90s

o Started his professional career scoring 24 straight knockouts
o Defeated Eza Sellers (TKO 3)
o Defeated Jesse Ferguson (W 10)
o Defeated James Warring (W 10)
o Defeated Rick Enis (TKO 3)
o Defeated Paul Poirier (TKO 3)
o Defeated David Jaco (TKO 1)
o Defeated Harry Terrell (KO 1)
o Was a member of the 1984 Jamaican Olympic team
o Won 43 (KO 40) + lost 10 (KO 7) + drawn 0 = 53 rounds boxed 223 : KO% 75.47

Alex “The Destroyer” Stewart’s Favorite Book: “You Belong To Me” by Mary Higgins Clark

“The mystery ‘You Belong To Me’ by Mary Clark is a good little book and the kind of thing I like a lot. It always kept me wondering what’s gonna happen next. It’s like you wonder why certain characters act the way they do and why other characters are so stupid. But you find out in the end. I’ve read a few other mysteries by her, but this one really stuck with me.”

(This is the 11th of a 15-part series)

Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part One
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Two
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Three
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Four
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Five
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Six
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Seven
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Eight
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Nine
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Ten
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Eleven
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Twelve

Peter Wood is a 1971 NYC Golden Gloves Middleweight Finalist in Madison Square Garden;. A Middleweight Alternate for The Maccabean Games in Tel Aviv, Israel, and author of two books: Confessions of a Fighter, and A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion, published by Ringside Books.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Leo Randolph - Ricardo Cardona

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Kevin McBride vs Mike Mollo

Thomas Hearns/Mark Medal June 23, 1986 Caesars Palace.

Mike Tyson vs Alex Stewart FULL FIGHT

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  1. Bob 07:03am, 08/02/2014

    My favorite subjects are JO Ko and Jowett Boy, both of whom should be in the Hall of Fame for being aficionados to their very core.  KO Jo’s roadside diner reports are classic and Jowett Boy’s unbridled recognition of Don Elbaum as the World’s Greatest Man make them especially relevant.

  2. nicolas 01:12pm, 08/01/2014

    First, I thought this is supposed to be about prize fighters favorite books. But I find it interesting that Goossen’s favorite book is Treasure Island, because it is about a colorful pirate. Might some not accuse him of being a pirate?

  3. Eric 06:57am, 08/01/2014

    Looks like Juan McAmnesty needs to read the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” again. Either Juan didn’t fully grasp how the Roman Empire fell or he’s conveniently forgotten what he read because of senility.

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