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Willie Pep: A Biography of the 20th Century's Greatest Featherweight

Among the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time, Willie Pep (1922-2006) was a virtuoso of the squared circle. A two-time World Featherweight Champion, his International Boxing Hall of Fame professional record stands at 230 wins, 11 losses and one draw, with 65 knockouts and two winning streaks of more than 62 victories--each longer than most modern fighters' careers. During his 26 years in the ring, he appeared on cards with everyone from Fritzie Zivic to Joe Frazier. A scientific boxer with balletic defensive skills and a stiff jab, Pep--known as "Will o' the Wisp"--so masterfully evaded his opponents, one remarked it was like battling a man in a room full of mirrors. This book covers his remarkable career, with highlights of each bout.


This book features: A comprehensive view of the subject's contribution to boxing; A thorough review of his professional and amateur boxing career; An extensive view of his ring contributions as a boxer, second, referee, promoter, and manager; An extensive view of his ring contributions as a representative and advocate; An all-embracing view of his impact on the sport in the state of Connecticut; An exhaustive review of the dynamics between a fight manager, trainer, and boxer (All three members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.); and a sweeping analysis of not only the bouts he participated in, but even those that were scheduled, cancelled, postponed, or never came to fruition.


Research, aka Appendices, represents over 25% of the book. They include: A Canastota Scrapbook highlighting his participation in events conducted by the International Boxing Hall of Fame; A skills overview including balance, clinches, crouching, feints, footwork, head movement, left, left jab, overhand right, slip, spin move (trademark), switching stances, weaving, and wrestling; and an Official Records comparison to associated members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.


More Book Reviews


"He (Pep) owns two untouchable winning streaks. As Mark Allen Baker points out in his ninth boxing book, the meticulously researched, superbly written Willie Pep: A Biography of the 20th Century's Greatest Featherweight (McFarland Books) –– IBRO Journal, December 2022


"And those photos! Magnificent! More than 70 of them, including Pep with Alexis Arguello, sports journalist and scholar Sam Cohen, Jose Torres, and Muhamad Ali. And for fans of Rocky Graziano and Jake LaMotta, two of Pep's closest friends, check out page 132. There's one of a smiling Jackie Wilson, the Pacific Coast's lightweight and welterweight champion on page 75. Then, of course, there are several of the great featherweight champion—and Pep's number one rival—Sandy Saddler." –– IBRO Journal, December 2022


"Your research was, putting it mildly, extensive." –– IBRO Journal, December 2022