Floyd Patterson (Hardcover)

The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion

By W. K. Stratton

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780151014309, 288pp.

Publication Date: July 10, 2012

List Price: 25.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


"A well-researched and overdue tribute. Like one of Patterson's reliable left hooks, Stratton sharply recounts the life of an important, but often forgotten, two-time world heavyweight champion." — Gary Andrew Poole, author of PacMan: Behind the Scenes with Manny Pacquiao

In 1956, Floyd Patterson became, at age twenty-one, the youngest boxer to claim the title of world heavyweight champion. Later, he was the first ever to lose and regain that honor.

Here, the acclaimed author W. K. Stratton chronicles the life of "the Gentle Gladiator" — an athlete overshadowed by Ali's theatrics and Liston's fearsome reputation, and a civil rights activist overlooked in the Who's Who of race politics. From the Gramercy Gym and wildcard manager Cus D’Amato to the final rematch against Ali in 1972, Patterson's career spanned boxing's golden age. He won an Olympic gold medal, had bouts with Moore and Johansson, and was interviewed by James Baldwin, Gay Talese, and Budd Schulberg. A complex, misunderstood figure — he once kissed an opponent at the end of a match — he was known for his peekaboo stance and soft-spoken nature.

Floyd Patterson was boxing’s invisible champion, but in this deeply researched and beautifully written biography he comes vividly to life and is finally given his due — as one of the most artful boxers of his time and as one of our great sportsmen, a man who shaped the world in and out of the ring.

About the Author

W.K. (Kip) Stratton is the author of four books, including Backyard Brawl, Chasing the Rodeo, and Boxing Shadows. He has written for GQ, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Texas Observer, the Dallas Morning News, and others.  He lives near Austin, Texas.

Praise For Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion

"Stratton offers boxing fans a solidly researched, popularly written study of a complex, good man. A clear winner."
Library Journal  (starred)

"Stratton’s attention to detail is impressive, and he seems to have uncovered every little tidbit about Patterson's life both in and out of the ring, making this warm biography a must for boxing fanatics. An engaging, breezy portrait of an underappreciated boxing giant."
—Kirkus Reviews

A "deftly written autobiography...Stratton reminds us of Floyd Patterson's remarkable talent, mortality, and determination."
—Publisher's Weekly

"An even-handed, surprisingly readable account of one of America’s neglected sports figures."

"A well-researched and overdue tribute to Floyd Patterson. Like one of Patterson's reliable left hooks, Stratton sharply recounts the life of an important, but often forgotten, two-time world heavyweight champion."
—Gary Andrew Poole, author, PacMan: Behind The Scenes With Manny Pacquiao—The Greatest Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World

"Stratton provides some fascinating insight into, surely, the most inscrutable heavyweight champion we've ever had. His book about Floyd Patterson is comprehensive and sensitive, as it seeks to help us understand a man who seemed so temperamentally in contradiction to his profession."
—Frank Deford, author of Over Time and Everybody's All-American

"Floyd Patterson was one of the more beguiling and hypnotic figures to stride across the stage of twentieth-century boxing. W. K. Stratton tells the story of this proud and mannered man with insight and artful compassion."
—Wil Haygood, author of Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson

"W. K. Stratton's Floyd Patterson revives the life of a boxer who was larger outside the ring than within it, a boxer who had a heart and humanity (and courage) beyond what his fight record revealed. He overcame obstacles and persevered in a manner that his more ferocious opponents did not."
—Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life and The Silent Season of a Hero

"The extant literature on Floyd Patterson had heretofore been the province of often-fawning admirers, but with Floyd Patterson, W. K. Stratton has managed to produce a refreshingly honest and even-handed deconstruction of the owner of the uneasiest head to wear a crown this side of Henry IV."
—George Kimball

"A knockout biography of the best boxer in 1950s and early 1960s America. From winning an Olympic Gold medal to developing the peek-a-boo stance that influenced Muhammad Ali, Patterson was a monumental influence on the boxing profession during its Cold War era heyday. Highly recommended!"
—Douglas Brinkley, bestselling biographer and professor of history at Rice University