I am not a boxing fan in any sense of the word. I do know a little bit about the sport, but not really very much. One thing I do enjoy is reading biographies and learning of the lives of many kinds of people. In doing so I also learn something of the passions to which they engaged their talents. Having read Jersey Joe Walcott: A Boxing Biography, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012), by James Curl, I now understand more about boxing in general, as well as having acquired a particular appreciation for one of the "good guys" in a sub-culture that is permeated with many colorful, and a few unsavory, characters. James Curl has done a masterful job as a first-time author, taking his passion for boxing and finding a way to give something back to the sport he loves in the telling of the story of Jersey Joe Walcott. Walcott was a fighter active in the first-half of the 20th century who achieved the pinnacle of his vocation, the world championship in the heavy-weight division. The champion of any sport is endowed with exceptional talent but talent alone is rarely enough. Walcott's path to the top was exceedingly difficult and Curl shines light on every step. Jersey Joe Walcott was the ring name of Arnold Raymond Cream. He was born in Camden, NJ, in 1914, one of a family of 12 children. The poverty his family lived in was extreme and when he was 13 his father died so Cream began working to help support his mother and siblings. He began boxing professionally at age 16 and fought 36 times over the next ten years, earning a living as both a boxer and with whatever other work he could find. The early years of his career carried with them much of the hardship of his youth, as he married at 19 and soon had six of his own children to feed. World War Two brought both regular employment and an interruption to his career as a fighter. Returning to boxing as the war wound down he had a burning desire to win the world championship, held since 1937 by Joe Louis but he was unable to position himself for a chance to fight for the title until 1947, when at age 34 he entered the ring with Louis. In that fight he went 15 rounds with Louis but lost a decision that many observers thought he should have one. Disappointed but undeterred Walcott had another opportunity against Louis in 1948, losing by a knockout in the rematch. Walcott then had a third consecutive opportunity to win the title, fighting Ezzard Charles, who had defeated Louis, in 1949. The result was another loss by decision in 15 rounds. Pressing on towards his goal Walcott fought another 6 times before gaining a second chance at Charles in early 1951. Charles won this bout, again in 15 rounds, but in their third fight, 4 months later, Walcott knocked him out in the 7th round. At the age of 37 Walcott was the oldest person to win the heavyweight title as well as the only person to have had five title fight attempts. His reign as champion was relatively short-lived, successfully defending his title by defeating Charles in their fourth meeting but then losing to Rocky Marciano in a hard-fought 13 round battle. Marciano knocked-out Walcott in the first round of their rematch, effectively ending Walcott's boxing career. Crum's primary focus on Walcott is on his boxing career but I found Walcott's post-boxing career to be nearly as interesting as the time he spent as a fighter. Rather than live on riches of his later years as a fighter he soon went into the public sector, working for the city of Camden police department in the area of juvenile justice. He believed that there was a great need for people and programs to help youth that were growing up in the poverty he endured and he worked to provide a better path for them. He was also elected to a term as sheriff and then went back to working with youth until he retired. I found Walcott's story to be a model that runs against so much of what we see in sports today, where stars are feted as heroes, but their heroism is largely self-absorbed behavior lived out on a grand stage. Walcott was certainly driven to become a champion, persisting time and again when many people thought he was old and washed-up. But Crum also shows him to be patient, loyal, humble and thoughtful in his relationships with his family and business associates, as well as his opponents in the ring, many of whom became lifetime friends outside of the ring. I found Crum's writing to be engaging. Once I began reading I found the book hard to put down, as I wanted to keep reading and see what would happen next. Crum is a fan of boxing and fans will enjoy the way Crum tells of Walcott's career, particularly the first fights with both Louis and Marciano, two fights that were epic battles. But extensive knowledge of boxing is not needed in order to appreciate the story of Jersey Joe Walcott, one man who was able to achieve the fulfillment of his vision of the American Dream.