A knockout . . . When you read these interviews it is more than just words on a page, you feel you are sitting in on the conversations as the voices come to life. Mike [Silver]’s knowledge and insight is unparalleled. He brings you back to the days of great writers such as Bob Edgren and Jimmy Cannon . . . If you want an education in the Art of Boxing, Mike Silver is the man to read.
Silver is a reliable historian and an ardent spokesperson for boxing’s past. He looks back fondly on the time when the sweet science was ‘a relevant part of the social fabric’ of America and had ‘the capacity to address issues involving history, ideology, violence, politics, gender, and race.’
His reminiscences are offered with a light touch, without falling into a maudlin trap.... Most of The Night the Referee Hit Back features pieces that reflect Silver’ analytical nature....And then there are the interviews. Archie Moore, Emile Griffith, Carlos Ortiz, Ted Lowry, and Curtis Cokes round out a section of illuminating conversations toward the end of the book. They are like the equivalent of Paris Review interviews, primary documents that preserve the wit and inflection of voices too seldom heard. For example, in his talk with heavyweight Lowry, Silver asks him to describe the punching power of Rocky Marciano, whom he came close to defeating, were it not for the judges’ decision. Lowry responds with an illuminating metaphor. “He hit hard but a smart fighter had no business getting hit by Rocky because he would send you a letter when he’s gonna punch,” Lowry said. Speaking of letters, The Night the Referee Hit Back is an eminently fine one.
10/1/20: Author interviewed on podcast The Boxing Esquire.