Feature | May 04 2016

Fight writing – Don McRae on Emile Griffith

John Dennen asks award-winning author Don McRae about his latest book, 'A Man's World', the biography of Emile Griffith
Emile Griffith
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What drew you to write about Emile Griffith?

For me personally, he came to South Africa in 1975. I was 14. He fought a guy called “Tap Tap” Makhathini and Gil Clancy [Griffith’s trainer] was barred from going into Soweto, the black township. Emile, he was not a political person at all, he just said, well the fight is going to be off then if Gil can’t come with me. So that was huge news in South Africa at the time and I couldn’t believe it, the government actually gave in to him and said okay, your white trainer can go into the black township. That made me think this guy is quite a powerful guy. That was the initial link for me.

It was in my head for a long, long time, I just thought this is a book I need to do.