A full-length biography of boxer Lew Jenkins has been long overdue, and here Gene Pantalone does a good job of connecting Jenkins’ hard-scrabble upbringing in rural Texas to the bright lights of Broadway to the grim realities of the battlefield. It’s an exceptional story of a fighter’s struggle, success, disgrace, and a sincere and hard-earned redemption.
Gene Pantalone has done a remarkable job bringing lightweight champ and Hall of Famer Lew Jenkins to life in this most entertaining and informative biography. "The Sweetwater Swatter" was one helluva hard puncher... so's his biographer.
Too often the history of boxing boils down to tales about heavyweights, as if the exploits of Sullivan, Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Ali, and Tyson are all that matter. Well, Lew Jenkins—lightweight champion, war hero, and a danger to himself as much as any opponent—mattered. His is the story of survival in the ring, in two wars, and in life. Gene Pantalone’s biography of Jenkins richly recounts a fascinating life.
Until the publication of Gene Pantalone’s biography, the annals of boxing have been missing a chapter—a chapter on Hall-of-Famer Lew Jenkins. Jenkins was a bony Texan who, as a world lightweight champion, mastered the stylized warfare of the ring as well as the real thing—WWII and the Korean War. A must-read for all students of the history of the sweet science, Pantalone’s richly-documented biography presents an arresting portrait of a boxer and soldier who was as wild as a pirate and as courageous as Achilles.
I served in combat with Lew Jenkins during the Korean War when he received his Silver Star. Jenkins was a brave soldier who cared for his men. It was an honor to have served with him.
Lew Jenkins had a howitzer of a right hand and sometimes fought drunk. What more could you ask for?