Jaclyn Weldon White is a writer who can make the truth read like fiction. She has proven this in the past with true crime stories such as Whisper to the Black Candle and The Empty Nursery. Now she turns her attention to telling the story of boxing legend W. L "Young" Stribling. White examines his life story through the magnifying lens of time and sorts through the legendary and the factual. The result is a fascinating read about a man who lived large and died young.
W. L Stribling, Jr. was born in Georgia in 1904, the son of two teenagers who were vaudeville performers. He and his younger brother Herbert were quickly assimilated into their parents' act. As the boys grew older their father decided they both should have careers as boxers. "Pa" Stribling, as he was called, would be the manager and "Ma" Stribling would be the trainer. Both boys did go on to boxing careers but Herbert's never measured up to his brother's.
"Young" Stribling, as he was dubbed by the media, was a workhorse. All though his latter teenage years he had fight after fight arranged by his father. They were much more numerous than those participated in by other fighters of the time. Pa put out the word that this was the way his son trained and the young boxer took on virtually all comers.
Over the course of his boxing career Stribling had many important fights but championship titles appeared to elude him. He was a good boxer, maybe even a great one, but the elusive championship titles stayed forever out of his reach.
In addition to chronicling Stribling's boxing bouts White also tells the personal story of the man and it is a good one. There is an inspiring love story in his life as well as various struggles he had to overcome. Stribling was a good son, a good husband and a good father in addition to being an outstanding athlete. Keeping all of these balls in the air sometimes took its toll.
The Greatest Champion That Never Was cries out to be made into a movie. As the pictures in the book show Stribling was movie star good looking. Add in the triumphs and tragedies of his life and you have a story begging to be filmed.
Author Jaclyn Weldon White has done her research and collected her data. More importantly she has put it down on paper in a way that describes the career but also puts flesh on the man and his world. Thus this becomes a very important book for lovers of the sport of boxing as well as a most readable book about one man and his legend.
The Greatest Champion That Never Was is published by Mercer University Press. It contains 256 pages and sells for $30.00.