“Rasta in the Ring: The Life of Rastafarian Boxer Livingstone Bramble,” written by Last Best News contributor Brian D’Ambrosio, will be released this week by McFarland Press ($15.99 paperback).
Bramble was the fighter fans loved to hate. Born in the Caribbean, he was a lifelong believer in vegetarianism, marijuana and reggae, and he was a man who could campy, provocative, moving and exhilarating—sometimes all in the same minute.
As an Olympic hopeful, he came to the United States from the Virgin Islands, in 1979, fought his way up through the streets of Passaic, N.J., and brought the image of the Rastafarian—a faith developed in Jamaica in the 1930s—into America’s living room. He became a world champion, taking the title from Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, possibly the most popular boxer in the world.
Outside the ring, Bramble’s antics were over the top. He sparred in lavender ballet tights, shadow boxed to Bob Marley and the Wailers and took jazz classes at the Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan.
His career burned and disintegrated rather quickly, however, and he retreated from the spotlight to an isolated lifestyle. In this provocative biography, D’Ambrosio, who lives in Helena, tracks down the self-proclaimed “sole Rasta prizefighter” in the unlikeliest of places and deftly covers the saga of one of the most enigmatic figures in recent sporting history.