FEATURED: Ian Probert’s “Dangerous: An Intimate Journey Into the Heart of Boxing”

dangerous-cover

DANGEROUS: AN INTIMATE JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF BOXING
Ian Probert

A quarter of a century ago journalist and author Ian Probert decided never to write about boxing again. His decision was prompted by the injuries sustained by boxer Michael Watson during his world title fight with Chris Eubank. Now, in common with so many fighters, Probert is making an inevitable comeback. Dangerous sees Probert return to the scene of an obsession that has gripped him from childhood.

Clinical depression caused by death of his abusive father prompts Probert to retrace his steps in boxing. During an emotional eight-month journey Probert reconnects with boxing figures from his past and in doing so draws unexpected solace from a series of remarkable encounters. In the course of numerous meetings with a number of leading figures in the fight game, including Herol Graham, Steve Collins, Michael Watson, Ambrose Mendy, Frank Buglioni and Glenn McCmichael-watsonrory among others, Probert takes a look at how lives have changed, developed and even unravelled during the time he has been away from the sport.

From an illuminating and honest encounter with transgender fight manager Kellie Maloney to an emotional reunion with Watson himself, Probert discovers just how much the sport has changed during his absence. The end result is one of the most fascinating and unusual books ever to have been written about boxing.

 

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It was 23 years ago when I last saw him. His eyes were closed and an oxygen mask was strapped to his mouth. His magnificent muscular torso was a tangle of tubes and sensors. He lay on the bed like a sleeping baby. The slightest of frowns pinched his forehead as if he were dreaming the longest dream: a dream that would last for a biblical 40 days and 40 nights before he would awaken to discover that his life had been ripped apart. That he could never again be the person that he used to be.

In a windswept hotel on the outskirts of Essex I sit at the rear of a vast banqueting hall and wait to see his face once more. I’m wearing the suit that I wore at my wedding and for the last three funerals that I attended. You could say that I’m not a suit person. It hangs loose on my body on account of the large amount of weight I’ve lost in the past couple of years.

‘You’ve put some pounds on,’ says a cor blimey voice, ‘You used to be a skinny fella.’

The voice takes a seat across from me at the table and I recognise its source. It’s also been more than two decades since I last saw him and his hair has waved goodbye – although I’m not one to talk – and he’s something like twice the size that he used to be.

‘You look like you’ve lost weight,’ I lie.

The other man caresses his beer gut and stares at the floor. ‘Yeah… I’ve been working out,’ he says without a trace of irony.

The stranger from my past withdraws to the bar leaving me alone at the dinner table to scrutinise other faces. In the far distance an ex-boxer named Nigel Benn is charging £20 a shot to be photographed with time-ravaged fans. The former world champion looks trim and wears a stylish striped jacket that would probably look ridiculous on anybody else. He grins earnestly and waves a weary fist at the camera. The middle- aged car salesman standing next to him follows his lead for posterity.

On the table closest to me I spot Alan Minter in a dickie bow. A lifetime ago I’d been a 17-year-old waiter serving wine at an event not unlike this one to a bashed-up Minter, who had just lost his undisputed world middleweight title. Back then he was one of the most famous people I’d ever met and I’d been in awe of him. Total awe. But now it’s only sorrow. His position at the outskirts of the hall – almost as remote and desolate as my own location – serves as a barometer for just how many people have forgotten his achievements. He’s at the back of the queue now and others have moved forward to take his place.

The speeches begin. On a long table at the front of the hall a smiling Nigel Benn is surrounded by other refugees from days gone by. A retired boxer named Rod Douglas sits close to another ex-fighter named Herol Graham, the man whose punches put an end to Douglas’ career. The two seem unaware of one another’s presence and I wonder if this is no accident. To Graham’s right is former world featherweight champion Colin McMillan and an assortment of other former prizefighters’ whose blurred features remain hidden in the shadows.

But I’m not here to see these people. Although they all in one way or another belong to my past I’m here to see only one person. I know he’s coming because the organiser of this tribute to Nigel Benn tipped me off before generously inviting me along. Everybody else seems to know he’s coming, too. It has to be the worst kept secret since someone let it slip that smoking is bad for you.

A whisper from the table, ‘Michael’s here.’ And suddenly I can stand it no longer. I climb to my feet and quietly exit the hall. Standing listlessly at the foot of a smartly decorated staircase are two disinterested looking bouncers. I ask them if they’ve seen Michael and they gesture towards a small corridor to the left of the staircase.

I find myself standing outside a disabled toilet. I try the handle. It’s locked. But just as I’m leaving, the door swings open and a large middle-aged black man with glasses and greying temples appears. We look at each other for a long time and disjointed words tumble from my lips, ‘Michael… It’s so nice to see you.’ It’s all I can think of saying. My voice is trembling and already I’m weak with emotion.

Broken Wagon Films presents “The Devil’s Road”

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The Starling’s Song

Bhaswati Ghosh

ss_frontcover1The Starling’s Song

B.L. Bruce

Black Swift Press

Available on: Amazon.com

Review by Bhaswati Ghosh

For those of us who live it every day, urban life can be unforgiving in its demands. Yet, there are release buttons that can help us slow down and turn towards the natural world and its rhythms. This movement isn’t as much a result of curiosity as it is of a desperate seeking — whether to find the missing pieces of the jigsaw of modern living or to simply let go of the puzzle altogether. The Starling’s Song, a recent poetry collection,  constructs a fine floating bridge to negotiate that distance — between nature’s tranquility and human restiveness. B.L. Bruce makes us walk on that now-steady, now-wobbly bridge with Feel, her very first of the three dozen or so poems in this chapbook.

Were you here I’d point out/the coyote’s tracks through the…

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POETRY REVIEWERS WANTED for “The Starling’s Song” by B. L. Bruce

FREE eBook copy of award-winning author B. L. Bruce’s The Starling’s Song (Black Swift Press, 2016) in exchange for an honest review!

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In a similar vein as her award-winning The Weight of Snow, Bruce’s newest collection of poetry explores the themes of love, loss, and nature, both human and not.

Written in its entirety during a twenty-eight day stay in a remote cabin in the forests of Northern California, B. L. Bruce’s chapbook, The Starling’s Song, affirms and renews the author’s proclaimed lyricism in thirty-five new poems.

• • •

B. L. BRUCE is a graphic designer and publisher from Santa Cruz, California. She holds a bachelor’s degree in post-modern literature and creative writing from UC Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, magazines, and literary publications, including The Sun Magazine, Common Ground Review, and the Monterey Poetry Review. Recently the recipient of the 2014 PushPen Press Pendant Prize for Poetry, Bruce is the author of the 2014 International Book Awards Finalist and the 2014 USA Best Book Awards Finalist in the poetry category for The Weight of Snow. The Starling’s Song is her third book.

 

IF INTERESTED IN REVIEWING, PLEASE SEND QUERY TO
bribruceproductions (at) gmail (dot) com

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The Devil’s Road, Episode 1: Isla Raza

Check out the new video from Broken Wagon Films’ preliminary expedition. The video features the film’s producer and scientific director as they explain the importance of this unique island in the Gulf of California, and the effect of climate change on resident bird populations–specifically the Heermann’s gull and the elegant tern, where historically 90% of the world’s populations of these two species claim as their nesting and breeding grounds.

Isla Raza is a tiny island in the Gulf of California that serves as the sole breeding ground for several important bird species. Despite being protected by the Mexican government as a wildlife sanctuary in 1964, this unique island is currently threatened by climate change and human activity. As a result, the Elegant Tern has abandoned Isla Raza as a breeding colony.

The future of Isla Raza hangs in the balance… Join us as we explore the history of Baja and document the many changes occurring on the peninsula. 

Visit www.brokenwagonfilms.com for more information. 

 

NEW POETRY: ‘The Starling’s Song’ from Award-winning Author B. L. Bruce

In a similar vein as her award-winning debut collection The Weight of Snow, Bruce’s newest compilation of poetry explores the themes of love, loss, and nature–both human and not.

SS_FullCover

Written in its entirety during a twenty-eight day stay in a remote cabin in the forests of Northern California, B. L. Bruce’s chapbook, The Starling’s Song, affirms and renews the author’s proclaimed lyricism in thirty-five new poems.



B. L. BRUCE
is a graphic designer and publisher from Santa Cruz, California. She holds a bachelor’s degree in post-modern literature and creative writing from UC Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, magazines, and literary publications, including The Sun Magazine, Common Ground Review, and the Monterey Poetry Review. Recently the recipient of the 2014 PushPen Press Pendant Prize for Poetry, Bruce is the author of the 2014 International Book Awards Finalist and the 2014 USA Best Book Awards Finalist in the poetry category for The Weight of Snow. The Starling’s Song is her third book.

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Here’s an excerpt from Bruce’s new chapbook, The Starling’s Song, now available on Amazon and all major eBook retailers: 

 

MAGPIE

Once I begged to forget you.
Yet there you were,
beneath the old cypress
and then in the rain,
the sound of surfbeat echoing
against the small white house.

Often I’d dream of what it might be like
to love you, the art of it,
being recreated again and again.
Always, the dreams followed me
through the morning like a ghost.
I’d begin wanting you to love me:
the moth destroyed in pursuit,
all delicateness destroyed by flame.

And in the hours I am most lonely,
still I think of you. All those
long suffered months
learning to forgive myself,
your uncertainty, your judgment,
feeling foolishly weak-willed
and driven mad as a magpie
into those desperate breaths
before dawn.

c. B. L. Bruce, 2016

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Check out “The Devil’s Road” from Broken Wagon Films

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Get a peak (from the blog) at the documentary film I’m helping produce about an expedition through Baja! Go show ’em some love on Instagram @brokenwagonfilms.

Following a route taken by several naturalists over a hundred years prior, a group of present-day adventurers embark on an expedition to document the beautiful and unforgiving landscape of today’s Baja California.