By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award has been shared for the first time as the story of an 11-year-old’s remarkable swim across the English Channel and a biography of Northern Irish boxer Eamonn Magee divided the spoils on Tuesday.
A Boy in the Water tells how author Tom Gregory became the youngest person to swim the Channel in 1988, billed as an uplifting read and a reminder of a different era – the minimum age to attempt the feat now being 16.
He shared the 30,000 pounds prize with Paul D Gibson, whose book The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee is much darker, telling the story of the top-level welterweight in the ring and outside, where shocking violence was seemingly his daily companion.
Gibson’s manuscript was rejected by 13 publishers before Mercier Press took it on and it is the fifth boxing book to win the prestigious award that virtually guarantees bestseller status.
“In the 30 years since launching the award we have occasionally considered but never ultimately awarded, a dead heat but the (six) judges found it impossible to separate these two jointly deserving but very different books,” said award co-founder Graham Sharpe, who recently retired after working for the British bookmaker for 45 years.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Keith Weir)