UPDATED on Nov. 13, 2022
A collection of insights from readers and pundits about “Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg.”
“Jerry Izenberg knew his sports ― finally forced to miss a Super Bowl, he predicted its final score on the nose ― but at the same time he never overlooked the wider world adjacent to the games playing out before him. In Going 15 Rounds, the voices of Izenberg, his fellow sportswriters, and biographer Ed Odeven blend beautifully as they evoke in harmony an often disharmonious time marked by cataclysmic events. Journalism, history, sports, and a parade of iconic figures ー they’re all here in this rich, wide-ranging book.”
–Alexander Wolff, former Sports Illustrated senior writer and author of “Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home”
“In a career spanning eight decades, Jerry Izenberg has been almost everywhere, seen practically everything and written about nearly everyone in the world of sports. In his new book, ‘Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg: A Collection Of Interviews With The Legendary Columnist,’ author Ed Odeven highlights some of Izenberg’s favorite sports memories, with Izenberg providing vivid details of tales from his childhood up to the present time. This book isn’t a traditional or exhaustive biography, but a wide-ranging primer on the life and times of Jerry Izenberg. Funny, serious and thought-provoking, it gives readers a close-up look at how Izenberg has approached his job ― and saw the world at large ― decade after decade.
“The great part of this book is that Odeven captures the making of an icon ― and introduces him to a generation that needs to appreciate the history of storytelling. Great writers aren’t born, they are crafted by their need to make the story come alive, as illustrated in Chapter 5 (How Music Shaped His Writing).
“I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the people Izenberg has written about, but now I have a better insight, because Odeven has taken the time to not only give me an insight into Izenberg, but also the subjects of his column. You do not have to be a sports fan to enjoy this book. It is just great writing.”
–Rocky Bleier, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and four-time Super Bowl champion
“Jerry Izenberg needed a book written about his remarkable life and times … and Ed Odeven has gone and done it!
“Few people tell a story as well as legendary New Jersey sportswriter Jerry Izenberg. And Ed Odeven has captured all of that in “Going 15 Rounds with Jerry Izenberg,” where Odeven gives Izenberg – and others – the space to tell some marvelous tales.”
–Cormac Gordon, retired sports columnist, Staten Island (New York) Advance
“The new ebook ‘Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg: A Collection Of Interviews With The Legendary Columnist’ by Ed Odeven is a MUST for any fan of sports writing. Izenberg is one of the greats. Thanks to Ed for keeping his flame burning!”
–Alex Belth, journalist and master curator of journalism archival material at The Stacks Reader
“An entire book about a living journalist seems odd until you remember Jerry Izenberg covered every major American sports event for nearly 70 years and knew absolutely everyone! Worth reading.”
–Dave Hannigan, Irish Times sports columnist and author of “Drama in the Bahamas: Muhammad Ali’s Last Fight”
“If you’re into great sportswriting and don’t happen to be from N.J. or the East Coast, you may not be familiar with Jerry Izenberg but the man is a storytelling genius. Also happened to get this guy into the biz as a teenager. Highly recommend this book.”
–Joe Battaglia, VP Editorial MileSplit/FloSports; 2-time Emmy award producer NBC Olympics track & field
“To say that Jerry Izenberg is a ‘sports writer’ is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. He is a national treasure, and he is still at the top of his game at 90, an age which he reached on Sept. 10. Anyone who appreciates great writing should read this. ”
–Bernard Fernandez, distinguished boxing scribe
“Prior to reading Going 15 Rounds with Jerry Izenberg I knew nothing about this man; nothing. Upon finishing this e-book on him, I felt like he was an old familiar neighbor of mine from the Bronx where I grew up. The details about his life and accomplishments vividly painted a picture of Jerry Izenberg. Having giants in the sports writing arena share their interactions with Jerry and tidbits about how he became close friends with Muhammad Ali and other sports celebrities certainly was a nice touch. Ed Odeven used the personal relationships quotes of those who ‘grew up’ alongside Mr. Izenberg in the field of writing about sports to create an intimate yet broad scope picture of who this amazing man is and I am in awe that Jerry is still writing, even at 90! Very well written and enjoyable.”
–a retired nurse/reader in Arizona
“It’s a cliché to say someone has ‘seen it all,’ but Jerry Izenberg is as close as it gets to making that fact. Ed captures his voice, and the myriad sportswriters who admire him in a wonderfully blended tale. If you enjoy sports and how it’s covered through the eyes and prose of a legend, you’ll love this.”
“Every sports fan will enjoy this extremely well-written and informative book about the legendary career of Jerry Izenberg. This book is filled with very interesting research and revealing interviews which shed light on Izenberg’s career in sports journalism which dates back to 1951. I highly recommend this book!”
–Dr. William J. Maloney, author and clinical associate professor at New York University
“I’ve known very few writers as prolific as Jerry Izenberg, a man who was incredibly kind to a young journalist (me) at The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and a mensch who has remained a great resource, for journalists and readers alike, ever since. Story for story, Jerry’s career is unmatched, enviable and inspiring. That’s evident in all of Jerry’s work but also in ‘Going 15 Rounds,’ a delightful volume that captures Jerry, boxing and a truly unique voice. I would highly recommend it.”
–Greg Bishop, senior writer, Sports Illustrated
“Jerry Izenberg is the last great sports columnist. Of an era that is now sadly gone, he has covered generations of two and four-legged athletes with a critical eye that told it like it was long before Howard Cosell ever coined the phrase. From Muhammad Ali to Secretariat, he chronicled the Golden Age of American sports and beyond with a literate style that placed him in the pantheon of his profession with Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon, Jim Murray and, of later vintage, John Schulian, Mike Downey and Leigh Montville. I began reading Jerry in the Newark Star-Ledger as a youngster and I am still reading him with pleasure some 50 years later. In Going 15 Rounds with Jerry Izenberg, Jerry ー with the aid of journalist Ed Odeven ー recounts his colorful journey through the sporting world. I highly recommend it.”
–Mark Kram, Jr., sportswriter and author of “Smokin’ Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier”
“At every turn in his more than 60 years as one of America’s premier sports columnists, Jerry Izenberg has been part of history. He worked for the same editor Grantland Rice did. Made his bones on the same staff as Red Smith. Prowled the same ballparks and boxing gyms as Jimmy Cannon. Was every bit as irreverent as the Chipmunks and withstood the challenge posed by all the bright young men and women who followed them. Fueled by a love of good yarns, a hunger for the truth, and a passion for social justice, Izenberg is still hammering out a column for the Newark Star-Ledger and writing volumes of biography, reminiscence, history, and even fiction. The book in your hands ー or on your screen ー tells his story. Pay attention to it. There will never be another quite like it, just as there will never be another Jerry Izenberg.”
–John Schulian, editor, “The Great American Sports Page”
“He may not have the national recognition of some of his peers but true sports fans know that Jerry Izenberg is a giant of the sports world and Ed Odeven’s wonderful book gives the reader a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a truly unique individual whose passions go far beyond the sports world. From his long relationship with Muhammad Ali to his love of jazz, you learn what makes a great writer tick and some of the secrets of his on-going success. A must read for sports fans and fans of good writing.”
–Rich Kimball, host of “Downtown with Rich Kimball, a weekday radio talk show on AM 620 WZON in Maine.
“Congrats to Ed Odeven on his book, ‘Going 15 Rounds with Jerry Izenberg,’ a collection of interviews with, and stories about, the National Sports Media Hall of Fame sports columnist and author. Great stories about so many iconic figures in sports.”
–Andrew Maraniss, author of “Strong Inside,” “Games of Deception” and “Singled Out.”
“I could read or hear two sentences and know that it’s Jerry Izenberg. You can’t say that about many writers. This book puts you in the room with a unique legend. I know Jerry a bit and this captures his essence. The questions and stories are great. I really enjoyed this and recommend it to fans of sports history, good sportswriting, or New Jersey. It’s a necessary behind-the-scenes record of some of the most important events of the last 80 years.”
–Dave Popkin, Seton Hall University basketball announcer
“For decades in America, well into the 20th century, newspaper and popular magazine writers approached sports through a rose colored lens. Heroes were painted with a flattering brush, glorified for their exploits in competition, sheltered from any honest or penetrating examination of their lives off the field, or even in the locker room. To a large degree, Babe Ruth and Red Grange and Jack Dempsey and their ilk were above reproach at the hands of sports writers and commentators throughout their entire careers. But in the 1960s and 1970s a new breed of sports reporters came of age on the job, and they gradually proved the appeal of the sports world could survive and even thrive amid a more penetrating look. They presented their readers and listeners with something new and more involving: the unvarnished truth about the games people watched and the people who played them. Among that first generation of social realist reporters, one of the very best and now the longest-enduring is Jerry Izenberg. Along with immortal colleagues like Red Smith, Dave Anderson, Dick Schaap and Larry Merchant, he worked to pull back a veil that had obscured the most meaningful lessons sports could teach us, and he interpreted the truths that emerged. He has been particularly adept at chronicling the lives of prizefighters, especially Muhammad Ali and all his heavyweight contemporaries, as Ed Odeven underscores in ‘Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg.’ That he is still doing it even now is a priceless gift to sports fans, and makes his work mandatory reading for the serious fan of athletic competition.”
–Jim Lampley, veteran broadcaster and longtime former HBO boxing blow-by-blow announcer
“Among human and animal athletes, Ali and Secretariat are transcendent. With the help of exhaustive interviewing by journalist Ed Odeven, veteran sports writer Jerry Izenberg shares tales and moments of these two, as well as many other remarkable people and events from his acclaimed career. This is a captivating book.”
–Tom Arenberg, former sports editor, The Birmingham News; now a journalism instructor, University of Alabama
“Jerry Izenberg is the last wise man standing in a chaotic SportsWorld and this delicious trove of great stories is a welcome celebration of his work and times. Odeven captures the compassionate toughness of a man who could bark and who could cry, whose streetwise insights ー often delivered from the side of his mouth ー was informed with a humanity and understanding that lifted his readers and his fellow scribes. Bravo, Ed, for the book, thank you, Jerry, for the life.”
–Robert Lipsyte, prolific author, former New York Times sports columnist, ex-ESPN ombudsman
“Growing up on the East Coast, Jerry Izenberg’s columns were a must-read: Insightful, funny, provocative, literate. His range was astounding, and his prose impactful. This book is a welcome and loving tribute to an original, masterful voice that has never wavered.”
–David Davis, author of “Wheels of Courage: How Paralyzed Veterans from World War II Invented Wheelchair Sports, Fought for Disability Rights, and Inspired a Nation”
“Anything Jerry Izenberg writes about boxing is worth reading and savoring. He knows more about the sport than the guy who invented the speed bag. That was probably in 1886, just a few years before Jerry was born.”
–Bill Dwyre, former Los Angeles Times sports editor
“I’m very proud to have this sitting on my coffee table. Odeven did his homework gathering great information and stories.”
–Mateo Mayorga, sports journalist
“I have been a sports journalist and author for over 20 years and it was a delight to read Ed Odeven’s book. Going 15 Rounds with Jerry Izenberg. Mr. Izenberg is a living legend in journalism and was one of my main inspirations in becoming a sports journalist myself. Ed Odeven, also a sports journalist, does a great job compiling and writing about some of Izenberg’s greatest moments as a journalist. I highly recommend this book. It is informative and fun to read.”
–Scott Melesky, sports journalist and author
“This book was a welcome walk through sports history and a reminder that an honorably lived life does not go unnoticed. Ed Odeven captures the authentic Jerry Izenberg through his and others eyes in a unique and engaging way. Izenberg was as good of a human as he was a writer, and this book brings that to life. I grew up in Los Angeles reading the great Jim Murray in the LA Times, and had the honor of meeting him by way of my uncle, the famed ring announcer Jimmy Lennon. I now feel like I know another first ballot hall of fame sportswriter. Thank you Mr. Odeven!”
–Denny Lennon (executive director, AAU Sullivan Award)
“Growing up in and around the New York City/New Jersey/Tri-State Area, I understand the significance of our local newspapers, where they are located, the stories and sports they cover, etc. As somebody who studied Communications at a college not too far from the area, you learn about the more well-known writers, columnists, etc. Most people would recognize the Newark Star-Ledger from ‘The Sopranos,’ but in reality, it is Jersey’s paper.
“Jerry Izenberg was Jersey’s ‘sports’ writer, and his unique perspective and the types of people and events he covered spans an unbelievable span of decades. Izenberg is one of very few journalists, sports journalists incredibly, who is included in the story of 20th century Americana, specifically as it pertains to sports sector of our country’s history. Some of the greatest boxers of all-time, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Izenberg was friends with. When he was younger, he dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player (for the New York Giants); the Newark Bears are certainly a moment in time, especially before the significance of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the preceding years after. Super Bowl after Super Bowl, and mostly every other major North American professional sports event you could think of, Izenberg was there for it all. How he touched on civil rights and other important political stances, was one of a kind as well.
The biggest issue, of course, is that time no waits for no man. But for any sports historian looking for an incredible snapshot from the perspective of a long-gone industry that advertising and quick money destroyed, this is a detailed, surprisingly quick (in a terrific way) read of a man who was right at the forefront and middle of everything, whose words still carry significant power and respect from his peers until today. Ed does a wonderful job taking you back, and through Izenberg’s story, is able to construct an imaginative visual, adding those mental images like you were there to accompany Jerry’s body of work.
–Joe Calabrese, co-host of “You Know I’m Right,” a sports, media and pop culture podcast
For more information about the book, including where to purchase a copy, click on the link: Book announcement: ‘Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg’