"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

THE RING - BOBBY'S STORY by Robert J. LeClaire

A Memoir

In THE RING, the author, Robert LeClaire (Bobby) is documenting one year of his life.  The year between his 12th and 13th birthday.  He was living in the small town of Columbus, Wisconsin, about 28 miles northeast of Madison.  It was a year that changed his life forever. 

College boxing was a huge sport at the time and the University of Wisconsin had one of the best teams.  Bobby and his family were huge fans and attended the bouts frequently and during Charlie Mohr's years at the UW got to know him quite well.  In fact Bobby's brother Bill joined the boxing team his freshman year at the UW.

If you are a boxing fan, you know what happened in April 1960.  The death of Charlie Mohr following a fight changed the history of college boxing forever. The author writes vividly about this time, but that and other traumatic events in Bobby's life that year turned his whole world upside down and inside out.

I hesitate to give you and more of a synopsis of the story because you need to read Bobby's Story to absorb what this boy went through during unbelievable time.

I heard about this book from my sister, who manages a bookstore. She was trying to locate the author so she could carry the book in her store, customers were asking for it.  You see Columbus, Wisconsin is our home town, but we couldn't remember anything about this family, after reading it I knew why.  This series of heart wrenching events took place before I was even born and my sister was a youngster herself.

As part of the story the author describes Columbus as it was then.  Things hadn't changed much when I growing up.  The memories of days long gone brought tears to my eyes.  Friday nights the place to be in Columbus was downtown.  The stores stayed open late, the popcorn wagon was parked on the corner, everyone knew each other and stopped to visit.  Reading the book I could smell the old feed store as well as the popcorn.  The population was about 1400 at the time and the entire town was surrounded by cornfields. 

The rest of the book was not as easy to read, it was well written, but the pain the little boy endured will grab your heart and hold on tight.  College boxing was the main backdrop of this story and I know nothing about that subject, but the story had me from page one.  I do have to say that reading about the old days of my home town were the major factor in why I loved this book, but Columbus was much like any other small town at that time.  This book is well crafted and a very short read at 118 pages and will touch your heart no matter where you may be from. 

Sadly this book is not available from Amazon.com or other booksellers at this moment. All proceeds from the book will be donated to the Charlie Mohr Scholarship Fund at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I will edit this post after communicating with the author to get more information.

This book was provided to me by a representative for the author in hopes that I would review it.  No compensation was received.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in Columbus WI and still live there. This book brought back SO many memories of my youth. Tears for days long gone. Bobby LeClaire was a few years older than me & sadly do not remember him or his family - or the events that happened. How devastating for a young boy. But everything he wrote about hit home for me: the city, stores, his home(s), and names in the book. I know (or know of) the people he spoke about. I had just started reading the book when Bobby came to Columbus for a book signing a few weeks ago (Sept 20, 2010). That evening when I resumed reading the book, was blown away when there was my husband's name staring back at me! He was a team mate of his brother Bill in high school. Then a few pages later, there a funny story about my brother in law (a friend of Bobby). I even know the person who 'discovered' Bobby after all those years – in that wonderful chance meeting. This book is a real heart grabber & totally pulled me. Plus all the connections to my life in Columbus, I also work at UW-Madison. I can turn and look out my office window and see the Field House. Hopefully, Bobby will return to Columbus for another book signing. The community fully embraced him back in September & I will be there if he returns! Thank you Bobby - for sharing your story.