"Black Ajax," by George MacDonald Fraser. Carroll & Graf. 249 pages. $23.
"Black Ajax" is based on the life of Tom Molineaux, a former American slave whose extraordinary boxing ability won him his freedom. He arrived in England in 1809 and created a sensation by nearly beating Tom Cribb, the undefeated bare-knuckle boxing champion, in a punishing 34-round match.
Then, as now, the sport was plagued by unscrupulous promoters and hangers-on. Fraser portrays boxing, with some relish, as brutal and bloody but artful. His boxers are, for the most part, noble, even romantic figures, a different, superior breed of men.
Pub Date: 5/03/98