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Not a Lightweight

In response to:

The Cruelest Sport from the February 13, 1992 issue

To the Editors:

As pleased as I was with Joyce Carol Oates’ favorable mention of my book Corner Men: Great Boxing Trainers in a footnote to her splendid piece on Muhammad Ali [NYR, February 13], I am compelled to correct Ms. Oates’ reference to Corner Men as a book of interviews. It is a collection of profiles of nine boxing trainers, only four of whom are still living and available for interviews. Joyce Carol Oates also incorrectly identifies boxer Willie Pep as a lightweight. As readers of The New York Review doubtless know, Pep fought as a featherweight.

Ronald K. Fried
New York City

Joyce Carol Oates replies:

Of all errors, to have typed out “lightweight” instead of “featherweight” in regard to Willie Pep (world featherweight champion 1942–1950), and, through numerous proofreadings, to have failed to catch it, is surely embarrassing. Pep is not only arguably the greatest featherweight in the history of boxing, with an extraordinary career of 229 victories in 241 fights (compare with Rocky Marciano, world heavyweight champion 1952–1956, with forty-nine victories in forty-nine fights), but one of the greatest boxers of all time in any weight division. The word “featherweight” always carries with it the association with Willie Pep.

Of course, Mr. Fried’s book is not a gathering of conversations, like Dave Anderson’s In the Corner. In my original review, I noted only Mr. Anderson’s book; then, later, deciding to make reference to Corner Men, which is of equal interest and merit, I simply neglected to change the terminology.

I thank Mr. Fried for his courtesy in pointing out these errors.

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