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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Adapted from the screenplay The Third Man in the Ring, which in turn was inspired by the award-winning memoir My Life with the Third Man in the Ring by Barbara Stolfi, Requiem for a Referee relates the story of Teddy Martin, a famous boxing referee in the 50s. Set against the backdrop of the underworld's influence on boxing in the 1940s and 50s, James Maggio and Barbara Stolfi Maggio's novel follows Teddy's humble beginnings as an amateur boxer to becoming a successful referee renowned for his integrity in an organization filled with corrupt practices. After realizing his shortcomings as a professional boxer, Teddy makes a name for himself as a bookmaker operating out of the White Rose Tavern. Despite repeated offers by the mob, he refuses their advances. Additionally, a loveless marriage takes a heavy toll on his mental health.
Requiem for a Referee is a tragic tale of a man trying to make the best out of the cards of life he has been dealt but finds himself continuously pushed back by his environment. Based on the life story of her own father, Barbara Stolfi Maggio and James Maggio's novel deals with Teddy Martin's rise and fall as a boxing referee in the 1950s while navigating a tumultuous marriage. The characters feel realistic, and the plot moves at a brisk pace. Trapped between Teddy and Dolly's mutually abusive relationship is their young daughter Barbara. At its core, Requiem for a Referee is a character-driven family drama. I found myself enthralled from start to finish. Highly recommended.