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The Road to Nowhere A Journey Through Boxing’s Wastelands By Tris Dixon

Release date: 20th October, 2014
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £16.99
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Given the alternatives available nowadays, most readers insist upon a book’s opening being immediately captivating. It’s a must if authors want people to get past their first, carefully-crafted half dozen introductory pages, otherwise the book is likely to be jettisoned in favour of something else.

Your reviewer was on page 27 of The Road to Nowhere before realising that Tris Dixon had successfully captured my attention. This book is that good.

Arriving in New York from England after selling his car, a transaction which just about cleared his overdraft, Dixon sets out, initially as an ‘average’ boxer (his description) intent on staying Stateside for six months, with plans to learn from the fight game’s very best.

In his first few months in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, he trains, spars, sleeps rough on several occasions (money – or the lack of it – is a constant theme), finds a dogsbody job at an Italian resort and boxes for Kevin Rooney, Mike Tyson’s old trainer.

When the experience fails to produce a satisfactory ending, Dixon moves to Atlantic City. He admits to “really needing a result”, whereupon he is offered the opportunity to interview Micky Ward on behalf of Boxing News. After making a return Greyhound bus journey to Boston and filing his copy, which clearly pleases the magazine’s editor, the wannabe boxer is transformed into a writer and so Dixon new journey begins.

What follows is a boxing odyssey, an often warm, sometimes terrifying, always compelling voyage which takes the author from Rocky Castellani in Atlantic City to Marvin Johnson in Indianapolis, as well as dozens of memorable places – and names – in between. Armed with what he calls a “stalker-like resolve”, Dixon successfully tracks down and meets a long list of forgotten boxers, including former world champions.

Some are successful, others washed up. Some have invested wisely, others must continue working for a living.

“That’s always been a problem for fighters,” writes Dixon, “that when they are so immersed in boxing they never give life after the sport a second thought:; not out of carelessness but because they are so fixated on the immediate goal they do not look beyond it for fear of losing focus.”

Dixon’s obvious love for, and fixation with, the noble art is evident throughout this outstanding work.


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