16 Best Boxing Books of All Time

Best Boxing Books

If you’re a boxer or a fan of boxing, you’re probably used to hitting the heavy bag. But hitting the books is an underrated and invaluable way to learn more about boxing. 

As both a former amateur boxer and a lifelong fan of the Sweet Science, reading about boxing improved my technique, expanded my knowledge of the sport’s rich history, and gave me insight into some of the brightest minds in the boxing world.

In this list, I’m going to share my thoughts on the best boxing books of 2022. I’m going to cover every aspect of the Sweet Science, from books on boxing techniques to the best books in boxing history. There’s something on this list for boxing beginners and pros, as I try to narrow the search for the best boxing books of all time!

The Best Boxing History Books

Boxing is one of the oldest organized combat sports in the world. It has a rich, storied history that every boxing fan should explore. Here are my choices for the best boxing history books.

1. Boxing: A Cultural History

by Kasia Boddy. 4.5 ⭐ on Amazon. 576 pages, English. Available on Kindle and Paperback.

The best way to learn about the cultural impact that boxing has had on greater society is by reading Boxing: A Cultural History by Kasia Boddy. In her book, Boddy explores the intertwining connections between the arts and the sport of boxing. She draws connections between people’s attitudes towards the sport and boxers and how it relates to pop culture, race and ethnicity, politics, and more.

It’s a fascinating read that covers a large portion of boxing history, highlighting its relationship with other arts. It takes a particularly close look at the relationship between artists and their depictions of boxers, diving into the works of diverse artists such as Spike Lee, Charlie Chaplin, James Joyce, and Charles Dickens.

If you’re interested in learning about the cultural impact boxing has had throughout history, this is the book for you.

2. Boxing’s Greatest Fighters

by Bert Randolph Sugar. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 368 pages, English. Available on Kindle and Paperback.

It doesn’t matter what sport it is. Everyone asks the question, “who is the greatest of all time?” In Bert Randolph Sugar’s book Boxing’s Greatest Fighters, he endeavors to answer that question for boxing. The former publisher of Ring Magazine and one of boxing’s premiere historians, the late Randolph Sugar was the perfect author to write such a book.

Boxing fans are familiar with the concept of “pound-for-pound,” in which you explore matchups between boxers across different weight classes. This book takes that concept to heart, pitting the greatest boxers from the past to present against each other under a hypothetical scenario in which size is equalized.

Not only is this an engaging read, but it’s also a fantastic resource for exploring the styles, attributes, and accomplishments of the greatest boxers who ever lived. If you’ve ever gotten into an argument at the bar over whose favorite boxer was better, this book can help settle the score.

3. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing

by Harry Mullan and Bob Mee. 4.5 ⭐ on Amazon. 256 pages, English. Available in hardcover.

This boxing book is ideal for anyone who wants a comprehensive history of boxing from its formation to the present day. It’s a meticulously detailed ledger that outlines the history of championships from the earliest days of the sport up to March 2020. It also lends insights into the most important figures in the boxing world and how the sport differs across the globe.

If you’re a boxing nerd and want to kill it during boxing trivia night, this is an invaluable resource. It is an expansive and extensive book on this list, jam-packed with information about Sweet Science. A must-have for the boxing know-it-all.

4. The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science

by Mike Silver. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 240 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

Boxing has had an up-and-down history in its long lifespan. Many older fans of the sport believe that the glory days are over and the best boxing moments are all in the past. Younger fans believe that the boxers today are better than the boxers of yesteryear could ever hope to be, believing that there will be a new golden era for the Sweet Science.

In his book The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science, author Mike Silver takes the reader on a journey by interviewing many of the greatest figures from the world of boxing, past to present. He talks to boxing historians, boxing trainers, amateur boxers, and former world champions, painting a complete picture of the sport’s timeline.

If anyone is curious about taking a deep dive into comparing the boxing of the past with the boxing of the present, this is the book for you.

5. The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told: Thirty-Six Incredible Tales From The Ring

by Jeff Silverman. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 368 pages, English. Available in hardcover or paperback.

Boxing is a sport that has provided us with some of the greatest stories in history. When you’re fighting with your fists, either in the ring or for a bigger cause, there’s always going to be drama, tension, inspiration, triumph, and defeat.

Unlike some of the other books on this list, this one isn’t necessarily just for boxing fans. It’s not a collection of stories simply about accomplishments inside the ring, but rather a heartfelt journey through the human aspects of the Sweet Science.

This anthology features contributions from some of the biggest names in the boxing world, as well as contributions from unlikely sources such as Joyce Carol Oates. Ranging in tales from underdogs becoming champions to the seedy underbelly of the boxing promotion world to the adversity faced by minority champions in the face of racism, this is one of the most engaging books on this list.

The Best Books on Boxing Training and Boxing Technique

Reading books on boxing training and technique can take your abilities to the next level. Whether you’re a hobbyist, amateur, or pro, learning the training techniques of other boxers and trainers can add new wrinkles to your conditioning inside and outside of the ring.

6. The Art of the Sweet Science: Boxing Training for the Body and Mind

by Shahan Dudayev. 4.5 ⭐ on Amazon. 198 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

Preparation is key to success as a boxer. With The Art of the Sweet Science: Boxing Training for the Body and Mind, author Shahan Dudayev prepares his readers for the rigors of combat inside a boxing ring.

Dudayev breaks it down into three parts: Training, strategy, and mindset, covering everything you need to know to get ready for a fight. The training section is all about how to get in shape, sharpen your skills, and how each exercise translates to abilities during a boxing bout.

In the strategy section, Dudayev breaks down different styles and approaches you can utilize inside a boxing ring. He also talks about how to fight each of those styles if you face them, diving deep into things like how to fight shorter or taller opponents, how to approach counterpunches, and dealing with pressure.

Lastly, Dudayev outlines techniques to make your mind as strong as your punches. You’ll learn how to hone your mind the same way you train your body, leaving you mentally prepared to step into the ring.

7. Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense

by Jack Dempsey. 5 ⭐on Amazon. 208 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

Who better to learn about boxing training and techniques than one of the greatest champions in the sport? And who better to explain what his book is all about than the man himself – “I was confident that I could take the rawest beginner, or even an experienced fighter, and teach him exactly what self-defense was all about.” – Jack Dempsey.

The long-reigning heavyweight champion was a cultural icon for his impact on the boxing world, and in his book, he shares his insights into how to train and fight like a boxer. He covers all the basics, from punching form, defense, stance, and footwork. Unlike many other boxing technique books, there are detailed and illustrated instructions, making it very easy to follow.

This is a fundamental read for anyone interested in improving their boxing skills, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

8. Boxing Mastery: Advanced Technique, Tactics, and Strategies from the Sweet Science

by Mark Hatmaker and Doug Werner. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 224 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

While the other boxing technique books on this list are beginner friendly, this is the best boxing book for more advanced fighters. Authors Mark Hatmaker and Doug Werner wrote this boxing book for people looking to take the step from intermediate boxer to master.

It covers the finer details of topics covered in other books, breaking down defensive movements, evasive and offensive footwork, pulling and drawing, head movement, and more. Unlike other books where you learn basic combinations, this book outlines how to throw complex combinations while using advanced boxing techniques like cutting off the cage.

The best part of this book is the drills. Concepts like clinching, fighting off the ropes, and cornering your opponent are detailed with drills that you can implement into your training right away. If you’re already far along in your boxing training and looking for ways to take the next step, this is the book for you.

9. The Cus D’Amato Mind: Learn the Simple Secrets That Took Boxers Like Mike Tyson To Greatness (The Champion’s Mind)

by Reemus Bailey. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 100 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

Many consider Cus D’Amato to be the greatest boxing coach of all time. He’s the man responsible for a troubled youth like Mike Tyson from the mean streets of Brownsville, NY, and turning him into a world champion. In this book, author Reemus Bailey outlines the philosophy D’Amato instilled in his fighters to make them mentally fit for the ring.

This book is primarily about the mental aspect of boxing training, an essential aspect for any boxer or martial artist to master. It’s broken down into five sections: character, fear, anxiety, resistance, and leadership. Each chapter lends insights, strategies, and techniques to turn your mind from mediocre to that of a champion.

D’Amato’s philosophy is so impactful that reading this book will make you more confident and inspire you to become the best version of yourself. Even if you’re not a boxer, this book will help you have a champion’s mindset in every endeavor you take on.

10. Footwork Wins Fights: The Footwork of Boxing, Kickboxing, Martial Arts & MMA

by David Christian. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 249 pages, English. Available in paperback.

There’s an old adage about boxing that goes, “if you want to learn how to box, watch a boxer’s feet, not his hands.” David Christian’s book Footwork Wins Fights is all about training and techniques to improve your footwork in boxing.

The great thing about this book is that you will learn techniques to sharpen your footwork in many combat sports, making it one of the best books on boxing and UFC. It breaks down the nuances of footwork in detail, from body mechanics to patterns.

The book is well illustrated and easy to follow, showcasing techniques utilized by all-time great boxers like Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis. Implementing the ideas from this book will take you from a plodding target to floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

The Best Boxing Books of All Time

Choosing the greatest boxing books of all time is as subjective as declaring the greatest boxer of all time. It’s also a conversation that never dies and is continually changing over time. The books in this section are some of my all time favorites and I consider them to be must-reads for anyone who loves boxing.

11. The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey

by Muhammad Ali and Hana Yasmeen Ali. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 264 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

There is no figure better to kick off a list of the best boxing books of all time than the man many consider to be the greatest boxer of all time. Muhammad Ali is the most iconic boxer of all time, and his memoir is an essential read for any lover of boxing.

The Soul of a Butterfly reads like a spiritual journey, covering Ali’s early life throughout his championship years and his adventures after retirement. Co-authored with his daughter Hana, this book serves as a looking glass into the mind and philosophy of boxing’s greatest athlete.

If you’re looking for an insightful book that will uplift and inspire you, this is an excellent choice.

12. The Fight

by Norman Mailer. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 256 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

The quintessential boxing book, Norman Mailer’s classic The Fight should be on every boxer and boxing fan’s reading list. This is the most famous account of boxing’s most famous event, the “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Considered to be a masterpiece in the genre of sports boxing books, Mailer utilized his knowledge of boxing with his talent as a writer to craft one of the most intriguing literary accounts of that night in 1974.

The beauty of this book is not just the expert boxing analysis, but the richer symbolism and meaning behind the event. Mailer had his finger on the pulse of the boxing world and larger American culture at that time and every word in this book reflects this.

13. Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing

by Donald McRae. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 552 pages, English. Available in Hardcover.

Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing is a book written by someone who loves the sport of boxing. Every word oozes passion, breathing life into the world of boxing in a way that only Donald McRae could. Obsessed with the Sweet Science from an early age, McRae’s mission in life was to chronicle the boxing world into the written word. The result is one of the best boxing books of all time.

It’s an account of McRae’s journey as he dove deeper and deeper into the world of boxing, talking with legendary figures in the field. Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr. and many more make appearances. He wanted to find the source of the boxing spirit and bring it to the page so it could reach a wider audience, and succeeded in doing so.

If you could only read one book from this list, make it this one.

14. The View From Ringside: Inside the Tumultuous World of Boxing

by Thomas Hauser. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 272 pages, English. Available in hardcover.

One of the most respected figures in boxing journalism, Thomas Hauser’s book The View From Ringside does not pull its punches. It’s as honest of a look into the world of boxing that exists, lending some of the best insights from behind the scenes.

Hauser shares moments with legendary boxers like Lennox Lewis and Bernard Hopkins, but also with boxing commentators and analysts. This is a top-to-bottom view of the boxing world, painting a complete picture of what the sport is really like – scars and all.

If you’re looking for an intimate look into the boxing world that doesn’t try to gloss over the ugly side of it, this book is an excellent choice.

15. The Sweet Science

by AJ Liebling, with a foreword by Robert Anasi. 4.5 ⭐ on Amazon. 288 pages, English. Available on Kindle, paperback, or audiobook.

The Sweet Science is the quintessential book on the “golden age” of boxing. Reading this book is like stepping into a time machine and waking up in the world of Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, and Joe Louis.

Focusing on the human side of boxing, Liebling paints a picture of the boxers of that era, giving readers today the opportunity to understand their lives back then. His writing style is also so evocative that reading this book makes you feel as if you’re there at ringside, watching the fights of yesteryear.

The Sweet Science was named as the best sports book of all time by Sports Illustrated, making it an ideal choice for someone looking to read an amazing boxing book.

16. The Berlin Boxing Club

by Robert Sharenow. 4.5 ⭐on Amazon. 432 pages, English. Available on Kindle and paperback.

The only fiction book to make this list, The Berlin Boxing Club is loosely inspired by the real-life story of boxer Max Schmeling. The protagonist Karl Stern has a dream of becoming a boxing champion and seems to be on his way to becoming one after his father secures lessons from Max Schmeling, a champion and German hero.

However, as Nazi violence ramps up against Jews during WWII Germany, Stern has to put his boxing aspirations on hold to keep his family out of harm’s way. It’s a harrowing, beautiful, and inspiring story that captures the heart of a boxer under the direst of circumstances.

Although it’s fiction, much of the book is based on real-life events. Author Robert Sharenow provides detailed notes and sources at the end of the novel, detailing the factual events that inspired his story.

If you want to read an inspiring fictional story with boxers and boxing fans in mind, this book is a great choice.

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Timothy Schoonmaker
Timothy Schoonmaker
I was an amateur boxer in high school when I competed in the prelims of the New York Golden Gloves amateur division. Later in life, I began training BJJ. My friends at the academy introduced me to Muay Thai, and I train all 3 martial arts today. I am currently a purple belt in BJJ, hoping to advance to brown soon!