Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing (Paperback)
Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
**New edition updated with a foreword by Manny Pacquiao.**
A celebration and memorial of the greatest era of heavyweight fighters from 1962 to 1997, as witnessed ringside by an International Boxing Hall of Fame sportswriter.
Once upon a time, of all the memories made in ballparks and arenas from California to New York, there was nothing to rival that magic moment that could grab a heavyweight fight crowd by its collective jugular vein and trigger a tsunami of raw emotion before a single punch had even been thrown.
That’s the way it was when the heavyweight giants danced in the boxing ring during the golden eras of the greats Ali, Frazier, Holmes, and Spinks, to name a few. There will never again be a heavyweight cycle like the one that began when Sonny Liston stopped Floyd Patterson and ended when Mike Tyson bit a slice out of Evander Holyfield’s ear; when no ersatz drama, smoke, mirrors, and noise followed a fighter’s entry into the ring; when the crowds knew that these men were not actors on a stage but rather giants in a ring with a single purpose—to fight other giants.
By the ringside, acclaimed sportswriter Jerry Izenberg watched history as it was being made during those legendary days, witnessing fights like the Thrilla in Manila and the Rumble in the Jungle and preserving them in punchy yet tremendous prose. Delivering both his eyewitness accounts and revelatory back stories of this greatest era of heavyweight boxing, Izenberg invites readers to a place of recollection.
Once There Were Giants is his memorial to this extraordinary time, the likes of which we shall never see again.
About the Author
Jerry Izenberg has been a sportswriter and columnist at the Star-Ledger for fifty-four of his sixty-five years in the business. He has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey, and he is the only sportswriter to be inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame. He won the Associated Press’s Red Smith Award for distinguished contributions to sports journalism as well as the Fleischer Award for Boxing Journalism. Izenberg has covered fifty Kentucky Derbies and the first fifty-three Super Bowls. He is married with four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in Henderson, Nevada.
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. During his illustrious career, he has won twelve major world titles, was the first boxer to win the lineal championship in five different weight classes, and the only eight-division world championship in the history of the sport. Currently serving as a senator in his native Philippines, Pacquiao is revered for his smile and work ethic, and topped the Ranker’s list of best boxers of the twenty-first century.
"I was there. So was Jerry Izenberg. This is the way it was."
—Larry Holmes, former heavyweight champion
"I have yet to find someone with as much knowledge of boxing as Jerry Izenberg."
—Joe Cortez, referee and International Boxing Hall of Famer
"An extraordinary, historically accurate chronicle of the golden era of heavyweight boxing in the U.S. . . . one of those gems you can’t put down once you start reading."
"Once There Were Giants is a history lesson that dances the way Ali did and packs the wallop of Frazier’s left hook. Only Jerry Izenberg, with sixty-plus years of no-BS reporting and bristling prose behind him, could have brought back to life the greatest era boxing’s heavyweights ever saw. He knew the fighters from Liston and Foreman to Holmes and Tyson, and he had a pipeline to the mob guys, corner men, TV executives, and flimflamming promoters. There isn’t another sports writer in America who’s been at ringside so long or tells the stories he found there so memorably."
—John Schulian, editor (with George Kimball), At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing
"Jerry Izenberg has written the most accurate and entertaining boxing book I have ever read.
—Freddie Roach, seven-time Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year
"The way it was from the most prolific boxing writer I know."
—Marc Ratner, former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission
"The facts are a revelation. . . . the emotions of the characters involved were a great insight."
—Bill Parcells, former head coach of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys
“Izenberg knows more about boxing than almost everybody has forgotten about everything else. It's that magical memory, along with his perspective, that makes this more than a sociological treatise. . . . [Izenberg’s] jabs are precise and intentional and his right crosses are thunderous. In Once There Were Giants, Izenberg floats like a butterfly, and stings like a bee.”
—NJ.com / The Star-Ledger
"Most useful as an introduction to the era between 1962 and 1997 for the uninitiated, or a trip down memory lane for hard-core fans."
"A vivid tribute to the heavyweight division, from Floyd Patterson’s time through Mike Tyson’s. . . . a requiem for the days when everybody knew the name of the champ."
—LA Daily News
"Izenberg argues [that this was the most competitive period in the history of boxing among the big men], and he is standing on solid ground when he says so. . . . In a lively narrative, [Izenberg] brings us to ringside and into the backrooms to visit with the fighters to relive many great moments. "
—Boston Post Gazette
"A masterful tome from a master of his craft, the book takes the reader past the headlines and wins and losses and reveals a time in the sport (and history) that will never be seen again. . . . If anyone is a nine-inning writer, it’s Jerry Izenberg."
“Jerry Izenberg’s latest treatise on the fight game . . . contains as many subtle hints of venerated guitar pickers Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie as of iconic sports writers A J Liebling and Paul Gallico. Then again, no comparison of Izenberg to anyone else is valid . . . [he is] an original, a master wordsmith and observer of the human condition who can take familiar source material and wring from it small gems of fresh insight.”
—The Sweet Science