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GREG KELLY
July 04, 2011
WHAT ARE THE BEST SPORTS SONGS OF ALL TIME? IT'S TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC
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July 04, 2011

The Ultimate Play List

WHAT ARE THE BEST SPORTS SONGS OF ALL TIME? IT'S TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC

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Faithless, 2001

Beneath a tough urban beat, the British dance band tells a sweet tale of a young black kid who becomes more confident by following the example of Ali: "Ten years old suddenly bold/Cause I resolved to live like my hero in the ring." Vocalist Maxi Jazz raps on top of a pulsing bass line. It's a strange mix of Philly soul and British trip-hop, and it works.

11 GOD'S FOOTBALLER

Billy Bragg, 1991

The string arrangement is a bit weepy, but the tune has a spirituality appropriate to its subject: footballer Peter Knowles, who was a promising 24-year-old forward in The Football League in England when he abruptly walked away from the game in 1970. Knowles devoted his life to the Jehovah's Witnesses after he began to feel, as the song says, "The glory of the sports pages/Is but the worship of false idols."

12 BOOM BOOM MANCINI

Warren Zevon, 1987

Most songwriters grapple with the sport's morality in boxing songs. Not Zevon, who takes a swing at those who criticized Mancini after the 1982 death of Korean lightweight Duk Koo Kim, the reigning champ who was pummeled by Mancini, then fell into a coma shortly after the 14-round bout and passed away four days later. "They made hypocrite judgments after the fact," Zevon sings. "But the name of the game is be hit and hit back."

Mancini wasn't so cavalier about the tragedy; after Kim's death he fell into a depression. He was never the same fighter, but he did recover sufficiently to reclaim his lightweight crown in 1984 with a victory over Bobby Chacon—a bout celebrated in Zevon's song. And Mancini was thrilled with Zevon, who died of lung cancer in 2003. "I was a big fan of his," Boom Boom says. "He was alternative before there was such a word. When they told me he'd made a record about me, I was stunned."

13 DUK KOO KIM

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