One of the hardest things is to understand the motivations of others when they move in a world so alien to you that it might indeed be another planet.
This is the way I feel about boxing, a sport that lives on the periphery of my universe. I know of its existence and yet I have no desire to explore it depths and cannot fathom why anyone would. Of course the fascination lies in that, to some, this world is wonderful, desirable and the centre of their existence. The fascination is that we humans are capable of so many different reactions and responses to the world around us.
I know Ian Probert’s writing from his very funny children’s book, Johnny Nothing and that was what brought me to reading Dangerous, a book, of all things, about boxing. And yet, it isn’t. Dangerous is about love and loss and finding a place in the world comfortable enough to inhabit.
Ian Probert pulls no punches (sorry, but the phrase is entirely the most appropriate!) in this honest account of his relationships within and without the boxing world. Making his living as a boxing reporter some twenty -five years ago he admits that he loved his job and the circles he moved in. Then a tragic ‘accident’ in the ring left a boxer on life support and Ian, who counted himself a friend and supporter of boxers was suddenly seen as nothing more than an outsider by the boxer’s family, an interfering reporter who was only interested in his ‘story’. Ian was shattered by this rejection, that so mirrored his personal life, and left behind the job he loved.
In the book, the author tells the story of his determination to reconnect, to revisit the boxing world and meet with those characters, new and old that have been so important to his life. He very ably describes a life of camaraderie, even love, amongst the boxing fraternity and helps outsiders to see that there is much more than just punches and pain.
At the same time we hear about the author’s personal life, a crisis with his daughter’s health and the long-standing conflict with his father which is at the heart of the story.
The book is painful, heartbreaking, funny and above all human; the story of man who has decided to ‘say it how it is’. If you like brutal honesty you will appreciate Dangerous. If you love boxing you will, I think, find this a fascinating insight. And if you don’t, you will experience a little of an alien world and maybe in the process understand it just a bit better.