Book Review: Johnny Risko; The Cleveland Rubber Man by Jerry Fitch

Growing up in Cleveland and becoming a boxing fan at an early age, I had heard of Johnny Risko. I knew he was a heavyweight contender in the 1920’s and 30’s. He fought many of the best with mixed results. That was about as much as I knew about him.

That has changed dramatically after reading fellow Cleveland native Jerry Fitch’s fine book titled, “Johnny Risko ; The Cleveland Rubber Man”. I now know the impact Risko had on boxing in Cleveland and the world stage. Risko was a viable contender for more then a decade and on a few occasions he was on the cusp of a world title fight. As much as I learned about Risko from reading this book. I also learned a lot about the heavyweight division in the period between Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis. Much of what I have read in the past usually described this as a “dark era” in heavyweight history. In reality it was a very competitive time. Top contenders were willing to fight each other. Sometimes more then once to move up in the pecking order. Johnny Risko was right there with them, willing to fight anyone. Just when it seemed Risko was on top of his game, he would lose a fight. When Risko was being written off he would rise up and score an upset victory.

The roller coaster career of Risko is wonderfully described in this book. Fitch diligently did his research and the book has many newspaper accounts of Risko bouts as well as stories from Risko’s early childhood until his death. Many black and white photos are included.

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Risko’s record reads like a “Who’s Who” of that time period. He met Gene Tunney, Young Stribling, Jack Sharkey, Tommy Loughran, Max Schmeling, Mickey Walker, Tom Heeney, Max Baer, John Henry Lewis and Tony Galento. So many others. Johnny Risko had a truly amazing career !

I highly recommend this great read. The book is very reasonably priced at $18.00. Shipping is included in the price. The author will gladly autograph the book upon request. For purchase information contact the author at ;

Also, if you are on Facebook you can private message Jerry to order.

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