The Gloves A Boxing Chronicle

Robert Anasi

North Point Press



Trade Paperback

344 Pages



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A Publishers Weekly Best Book

Robert Anasi took up boxing in his twenties, mainly as a way to stay in shape. He sometimes thought of entering "the Gloves"—the Gloden Gloves tournament, the "main event" of amateur boxing—but always put it off. Finally, at thirty-three (his last year of eligibility) he vowed to fight for this title, although he was an old man in a sport of teenagers and a light man who had to be even lighter (125 pounds) to fight others his size.

So begins Anasi's obsessive preparation for the Golden Gloves. He finds Milton, a wily and abusive trainer, and joins Milton's Supreme Team: a young black man who used to deal guns in Harlem, a bus driver with five kids, and a hard-hitting woman champion who becomes his sparring partner. Meanwhile, he observes the changing world of amateur boxing, in which investment bankers spar with ex-convicts and everyone dreads a fatal blow to the head. With the Supreme Team, he goes to the tournament—the outcome of which, like so much in boxing life today, seems to be rigged.

In this remarkably compelling, socially perceptive, and artfully written memoir we find, as one critic noted in The Village Voice, "a dying blood sport reincarnated as a metaphor for redemption under flawed circumstances."


Praise for The Gloves

"[A book] as good as any I've read about the sport."—George Plimpton

"Robert Anasi . . . can turn a phrase as clean as a neatly wrapped fist."—Stephanie Zacharek, Newsday

"As gripping as any Arctic chronicle . . . As the author's boxing skills increase he turns his attention to his sparring partners and fellow gym rats [and] makes a rough lyric out of their hard lives."—The New Yorker

"Anasi straddles the twin issues of manliness and meanness as well as anyone since Leonard Gardner in his classic Fat City. The Gloves hurt me. And I loved it. Insanely so."—Rick Telander, author of Heaven Is a Playground

"A powerful portrait of the bloody sport of boxing [that] becomes an exploration into the nature of violence."—Dylan Foley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"The Gloves, told in pitch-perfect prose, is enormously empathetic, grimly funny, in the end almost unbearably heartbreaking, and has more actual insights into class and race and masculinity than any hundred sociological studies."—David Shields, author of Black Planet

"This intriguing title is the story of first-time author Anasi's venture into the world of amateur boxing . . . From the beginning, the reader is immersed in the gym, introduced to the people (in particular owner/trainer Milton Le Croix), the sounds, the pitiless training regimen, and the blood, sweat, and tears. The gym becomes a way of life, an obsession and, as Anasi evokes it, an environment dominated by the young and ethnic. Here is a powerful book that sporting enthusiasts will relish."—Library Journal

"Anasi cloaks nothing, and his forthright style serves to highlight not only boxing's brutal reality, but also its beauty and allure. He tells fascinating stories of the other characters he meets and illustrates their lives in and out of the ring . . . Absorbing and honest, with its prose an effortless mix of facts, poetic descriptions, and personal vignettes, this book will appeal even to those with no prior knowledge of the ring. What John Feinstein has done for higher-profile sports, Anasi has done for amateur boxing."—Publishers Weekly

In the Press

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Fast, Cheap, and in Control
At the exact hour on February 12, 2012 that I was supposed to be ferrying the manuscript for The Last Bohemia to the FSG offices, I was puking into the toilet of my Greenpoint sublet. Dubious Chinese and sleep deprivation were to blame. After peeling my hands off the tile, I scrubbed my teeth, got dressed, and made my way to the subway. I felt like a human bruise.

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The Gloves
* 1 *A WAY OF LIFEThe gym becomes a way of life. Arrive on 14th Street at 5:30 P.M., and there might be a few fighters left from the first wave, the ones too young for day jobs, the ones who work odd hours or who don't work at all. You shake hands with your teammates (boxing culture requiring a certain formality) and take your gear into the bathroom. Off with the shirt, shoes, pants and, after a quick glance in the mirror to see how you're cutting up, on with the T-shirt, shorts and high-lace boxing shoes. Back in the gym, if no one else is around, Milton may be dozing. He lies on
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  • Robert Anasi

  • Robert Anasi has boxed in San Francisco and Munich as well as in the Golden Gloves Tournament. He has written for The New York Times and Maxim. He lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • Robert Anasi © Nadia Lesy