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Out of the Shadows by Dominic Negus

Release date: 22nd January, 2007
Publisher: John Blake Publishing

List Price: £17.99
Our Price: £11.87
You Save: £6.12 (34%)
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Out Of The Shadows
By Dominic Negus
With Ivan Sage
John Blake Publishing price: £11.87, saving £6.12 on rrp

Towards the end of this fascinating book, Dominic Negus, a former world boxing champion renowned for his violent approach to life inside and outside of the ring, recounts a tale where he and two pals, 'Big John' and 'Johnny Fast Hands', find themselves subject to someone taking "a proper liberty". They're not happy to discover that they've effectively been conned out of a bouncing job at a nightclub and the reader, reasonably enough, given what has happened in earlier chapters, fully expects the trio to handle the matter in true 'geezer' style.

Sure enough, Big Dom eventually catches up with one of the guys who has taken over the door job and, finding himself in front of several others, he is compelled "to perform, like a true entertainer."

Despite apologies from the guy - who remains unnamed - Big Dom cannot hold back: "As he apologised again, I nutted him. CRACK! Down the side of his vehicle he slid. I just looked down at him with contemptÖ"

This incident was completely in character with what had preceded it, but then something strange happens: Negus shows remorse. Just like James Cagney in Angels With Dirty Faces, he realises right at the end that what he had done was wrong. "To this day, I really beat myself up over what happenedÖhow could I have done what I did? I'd wanted people's respect, even to be feared, but now I look back at myself with shame."

It's a crucial point in the book because Big Dom's genuine apology and obvious regret serves to nurture the reader's respect. You finish the book actually liking a guy who, a few hours earlier, had revelled in his reputation as a thug and a self-proclaimed hard man.

Moreover, the episode confirms that Dominic Negus is, as he hopes and has previously hinted at, now destined for a more relaxed life where he pays his car tax and spends time with his daughter. It draws a neat line under a journey that begins with the former WBU Inter-Continental Super Cruiserweight champion being smashed over the head with an axe.

This dramatic episode is how Dominic Negus's book opens: three men burst into the Five Star gym in London as he is preparing to fight "some ugly German geezer in Braintree" clearly intent on causing actual bodily harm. One has a gun, another a baseball bat, but it is the damage inflicted by the axe that results in Big Dom having what he calls his "Road to Damascus experience."

Nursing his injuries, Negus realises that to achieve his goal, he must put his former life (debt collection, bouncer, unlicensed fighter) behind him, kick his drugs habit and take it easy on the drinking. That he succeeds is testimony to his willpower and a tantalising glimpse of what might have been had he shown such self control as a promising amateur and later, professional boxer.

Negus is in little doubt that had he had more time to prepare for his fight with Audley Harrison for example, he probably could have taken him out and progressed to bigger and better things. Instead, he ended up head-butting "Ordinary Audley" as he calls him and was disqualified.

It seems that following this fight, which could have been a major turning point for Negus, he will rapidly descend on a downward spiral and get into serious trouble as 'hired muscle'. However, the final butting incident and his subsequent regret prove that his first chapter epiphany was genuine and makes for an altogether uplifting read.

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