DON DUNPHY AT RINGSIDE Autobiography, Published in 1988 by Henry Holt and Company, New York. 276 pages.
Don Dunphy is a legendary sports announcer who worked in both radio and television from 1940 into the 1980’s. He was born in July of 1908 and passed away in July of 1998, so this book was written in his retirement as he approached 80 years old. While Dunphy did work as a correspondent for newspapers while attending Manhattan College in the late 1920’s, he never claimed to be a writer or an author, and this is the only book that Dunphy wrote. Because of his status in the field of broadcasting, Dunphy is in the The National Radio Hall of Fame and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
Dunphy is also a member of the Canastota, New York International Boxing Hall of Fame for his work broadcasting the sport. Though he worked in a diverse range of sports such as baseball, football, horse racing and Track & Field throughout his long career, Dunphy is most remembered for his work in boxing where he called more than 2,000 total fights, including more than 200 championship fights.
Dunphy chose the word “ringside” as part of the title of his book, and in the pages he refers to it as a boxing book, but most readers will likely find that an incorrect statement. As an autobiography, Dunphy spends large portions of the book detailing his career and the business of broadcasting both radio and television. As an example, he dedicates 19 pages of the book in a chapter called “Great Fights” where he re-collects such fights as Rocky Graziano vs Billy Arnold and Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns. He dedicates an entire 11 page chapter to the Joe Louis vs Billy Conn fight. He dedicated an equal 30 total pages to mini-biographies on other broadcasters such as Ford Frick, Mel Allen and a truly legendary group of men, many of whom have nothing to do with boxing.
Dunphy does not go into great depth at any point in his stories, though several of his anecdotes reflect the unique position he was in so close to the sport. The book serves more as a look back on his life and career as a whole rather than a true book about boxing. That is not to say that Dunphy does not detail several interesting events, and he certainly was witness to some of the greatest fights of the twentieth century. His insights as he discusses Rocky Marciano’s infectious confidence prior to winning the world championship are a good example of his nice personal touch. Dunphy is engaging as a writer and the book is relatively easy reading.
If you are a fan of Don Dunphy or in the business of broadcasting, the book probably has a place in your collection. For boxing fans, it is a nice retrospective look at four decades of the sport through the stories Dunphy has selected for the book, but if your looking for a boxing read through and through, or perhaps a more in-depth work on the sport you may want to look elsewhere. This reviewer would describe the book as a “light read” more than a scholarly work.
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