Book review: Emile Griffith

Emile Griffith (Photo: CS Smith, Flickr)

Emile Griffith (Photo: CS Smith, Flickr)

A riveting account of the complex and often conflicted character of Emile Griffith that details the career of one of boxing’s all-time greats.

Some nice Welsh-angle interest is provided with the description of Griffith’s 1964 defence of his world welterweight crown against Swansea’s Brian Curvis.

Curvis had been at Madison Square Garden on the tragic night in 1962 when Griffith’s fists ended the life of Benny ‘Kid’ Paret.

In the build-up to the 1964 fight, Curvis wrote in his newspaper columns: “I have a date next week with a killer… Emile Griffith, welterweight champion of the world… Friends are taking me to a quiet hotel to take my mind off it.”

Curvis claimed to have no concern for his own well being, but rather for Barbara, his wife of six months who had said she would not watch or listen to the fight.

The Welshman’s concern for Barbara was at least matched by the sensitive Griffith, who had read about Curvis’s worries.

On his arrival in Britain, the champion presented Barbara with a hat that he had personally designed for her!

After his comprehensive 15-round win over the brave but over-matched Curvis, who hit the canvas three times, Griffith was left somewhat confused by the behaviour of the Welsh fans in the audience.

“How foreign is this country? How come every time I knocked him down they start singing?”, said the bemused champ.

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