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Muscle and Mayhem: The Saginaw Kid and the Fistic World of the 1890s

Lauren D. Chouinard

Pages: 436
ISBN: 978-145751-840-9
List Price: 29.95
Edition: Perfectbound

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This is the story of the “Saginaw Kid,” lightweight world champion George Henry Lavigne, who held the top spot from 1896 to 1899. Raised in the bawdy lumber towns of Michigan, the “Kid” cut his fistic teeth fighting bare-knuckle matches against the best men of the camps. Just as Lavigne was making his professional debut in 1886, the Queensberry Rules, featuring gloved fists and timed rounds, were transforming boxing as it fought its way to legitimacy and legality.
The saga is a rollicking ride from the Kid’s birth in 1869 to his defeat of “Iron Man” Dick Burge of England for the world lightweight title in 1896. The story pulls no punches, following Lavigne’s booze-fueled decline, a dozen arrests, a foray to Paris to conduct a boxing school, trips to the insane asylum and ultimately his death at age 58 in 1928 in Detroit.
Meticulously researched and featuring dozens of photos and quotes from original correspondence, the book deftly mixes genealogy, history, culture, and sport, showcasing boxing’s early beginnings and providing an entertaining account of the life of “Kid” Lavigne, one of the era’s most popular and accomplished pugilists. Lauren Chouinard’s passion for the subject shines through clearly.
“An unearthing of the Lavigne saga that is worthy of its magnificent subject: With the love and energy of an archeologist, Chouinard has reached down into the distant past to tell the story of one of the greatest lightweights who ever lived.”

Kelly Nicholson, author of Hitters, Dancers, and Ring Magicians “The great turn of the century lightweight champion George Kid Lavigne (aka The Saginaw Kid) has finally gotten the biography he deserves. This comprehensive and impeccably researched book brings to life the incredible saga of one of the toughest fighters who ever lived. The author has done a masterful job in recreating Lavigne’s triumphs and tragedies and the fascinating era in which he fought. Muscle and Mayhem: The Saginaw Kid and the Fistic World of the 1890s belongs on every boxing fan’s bookshelf.”
Mike Silver, author of The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science “Kid Lavigne was a great fighter of the past and Chouinard captures his greatness in this well-researched, well-written and comprehensive biography of one of the best lightweights ever.”
Tracy Callis, author of A Brief History of the Heavyweights 1881-2010