News November 2018

Book Review "Snakes and Ladders" By Bobby Vanzie


By Michael J Jones

Snakes and Ladders

MANY YEARS ago I watched a young kid from Bradford climbing the boxing ranks with style. Bobby "The Viper" Vanzie seemed to have it all and was destined to reach the very top of the fistic tree. A slick puncher with an awkward fighting style, the young Bradford ace seemed to have the flashiness and confidence to back up his skills.

In his new book "Snakes and Ladders" Vanzie, now 44-years-old offers a brutally-honest account of his rise as a boxer and also the trappings which came with his success.

Once a shy kid in Bradford, Vanzie found boxing which brought "The Viper" in him out. The quiet kid of old was replaced by the swaggering fighter who enjoyed a successful amateur career before making his pro bow in 1995. At one point, Vanzie was unbeaten in 21 bouts and the British and Commonwealth champion but the venture from domestic level to the world's elite evaded him.

The Yorkshireman was thus fed a diet of domestic opposition while craving a world title shot. Breath-taking stoppages of danger-men like Wayne Rigby, Stephen Smith and Steve Murray strangely didn't pave the way for the expected chances deserved to the Bradford puncher.

He would lose his Commonwealth title and unbeaten record by controversial decision to James Armah in 2001, come back with a series of knock-out wins before suffering reverses to Yuri Romanov and Graham Earl. The Earl defeats were especially hard to swallow as it appeared Vanzie had been victorious on both occasions.

Disgusted and disillusioned with his time in boxing, Vanzie retired in 2004 with a record of 26-5-1 (13).

Bobby Vanzie in his prime

Most biographies peter out when the fighter retires but, in this case, the story becomes racier as the former boxing champion details his domestic problems, drug abuse, imprisonment and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The retired champion also made a comeback a few years ago in bare-knuckle boxing, knocking out a far-bigger opponent after having an ordeal in the hours before the fight.

There is also a very sexual theme to the book as Vanzie details several steamy encounters with women through his life. Sometimes I didn't know if I was reading "Snakes and Ladders" or "Fifty Shades"!

Through various antics and some colourful experiences Vanzie pulls no punches whether he was in the right, in the wrong or anywhere in-between.

I would highly recommend this book to any fight fans, it's informative, thrilling and uncovers some of the hard-ships not only suffered by boxers but also men in the modern world.

Snakes and Ladders, an auto biography by Bobby Vanzie with Wayne Lettice Lennon is available now on Amazon and Kindle.

Newsletters Signup