So much has been written about legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, but the new book Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype offers the perspective of Drew Brown Jr.
Muhammad Ali is known as “The Greatest” boxer of all time because of his dynamic charisma and tremendous impact on the world in and out of the ring. One of the key contributors to his team that helped him attain greatness was cornerman and motivator Drew Brown Jr., better known by his nickname, Bundini.
Extensive biographical works about Ali exist from distinguished writers like Thomas Hauser and Jonathan Eig. Documentaries about his legendary life are plentiful, but author Todd D. Snyder brilliantly adds to the collection of non-fiction works revolving around Ali and his inner circle by focusing on the life of Bundini in the new biography Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype.
Bundini’s role in Ali’s life has been narrowed and in some cases greatly misinterpreted, or flat out botched in books and film. Snyder’s work Bundini dives into the life of a man who shared many epic moments with Ali throughout his storied boxing career and was an instrumental part in developing the champion’s psyche.
Bundini’s life work wasn’t limited to Ali. He spent seven years working on Sugar Ray Robinson’s spirit and mind. It was Robinson who suggested Ali bring in Bundini as a calming and galvanizing force.
Bundini is a fascinating enigma who was a free spirit and thought outside the box. Snyder deserves credit for unveiling the historical importance of Bundini’s influence on the sport of boxing. As the book shows, people who knew Bundini respected and credited him for his contributions to boxing, but his importance flies under the radar of even the most avid fans of the sweet science.
Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype presents the indelible effect that Drew Brown Jr. had on so many people.
Ali collected all the accolades, but Bundini was a significant element that helped propel him into lore. Snyder dives deep into Bundini’s family, interviewing his children, close friends, and countless individuals whom he associated with during his time involved in boxing.
Bundini famously authored the “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” poem that he delivered in unison with Ali before Ali’s first bout with Sonny Liston in 1964 to win to the heavyweight title for the first time. It’s arguably the most famous phrase connected with Ali’s legacy.
The brilliance of Bundini is that it is so much more than a biography of an underappreciated boxing cornerman. It provides nuance and depth to the lives of so many historical boxing figures and events. Bundini endeared himself to so many, including George Foreman, James “Quick” Tillis, and Larry Holmes. His words and actions changed people’s lives for the better. Some of his powers seemed metaphysical as Snyder points out using Bundini’s own words from an old Sports Illustrated article.
“Some of my duties with the champ [Ali], anybody could do—use the watch, carry stuff, all like that. Other things couldn’t nobody else do because I don’t even know how I do them myself.”
It’s gems like these that Snyder carefully selects and organizes that reveal Bundini’s nature as a mystic with an extraordinary talent for rhetoric, philosophy, and prophecy. Snyder demonstrates his scholarly background with his detailed and abundant research in piecing Bundini’s story together.
Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype is an artistically written multi-layered biography that informs, educates, and engages the reader. It’s also one part memoir as Snyder includes several first-person vignettes that display the bond he formed with Bundini’s son, Drew Brown III, and how his family history connects to that of his subject. Snyder invested his heart in this endeavor, and it shows through his compelling writing. It’s an accurate and glorious remembrance of a man who is a legend in his own right.
Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype book review—Grade: A
Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype is out now and available wherever books are sold.