Todd Snyder digs deep into Drew 'Bundini' Brown's expansive story, revealing not only how he became Muhammad Ali's confidant and hype man, but also, as boxing's greatest motivator, how he became a model for others who seek to inspire, in any endeavor.
One aspect of Ali’s life...has gone unexamined: his long and close relationship with Drew Brown Jr., a pre-eminent trickster and master motivator known to everyone as Bundini ... Todd Snyder, a boxing aficionado and English professor at Siena College in upstate New York, fills the gap, offering fresh insights into Ali’s character along the way ... Mr. Snyder writes lyrically, and his research appears to be impeccable: It’s hard to imagine that anyone has slipped through his interview net. If Bundini has a blemish, it is Mr. Snyder’s inclination to spar with competing Ali chroniclers; he wins these sessions, for the most part, but in the process disrupts the otherwise smooth flow of his story ... [an] affecting portrait...
Bundini employs quotes and anecdotes in a skillful way alongside solid contextual information ... Authoritative and entertaining, Bundini comes through for boxing fans and for those interested in Black American culture.
The narrative runs long and sometimes uneasily blends the academic with the popular ... Though the text is generally accessible, it doesn’t stand up to the standards of Plimpton Liebling ... A well-intentioned, overdue, and overcooked treatment of a complex figure in the boxing world, best suited to completists.