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'As my future crumbled before my eyes, I grasped for the rope. My entire life's struggle was ending here, in plain view of my enemies. How was it possible? How had I let things come to this?' This is not the story of a celebrity sportsman. It's not the story of a life covered in glory with its attendant cavalcade of famous friends, easy wins and glamorous encounters. Errol Christie may have been one of the most promising British boxers of his generation - a Fight Night poster boy, captain of the England boxing team, English and European champion, and a cocky, Ali-esque dancer with a reputation for devastating early knockouts - but this is not that story. This is a story about fighting. Coventry in the dying days of the Seventies was a tough place to grow up - especially if you were poor and black. At the same time as the young Errol Christie was raising the flag in the ring, his fists were seeing off skinhead tormentors and NF bootboys on the streets. Britain was sickening from a vicious racial divide, and even when the big time turned up Errol soon discovered that a black boxer who refused to play by the rules - white rules - would never be tolerated. In 1985, after a string of professional knockouts, Errol faced Mark Kaylor in a brutal bout that tore open the country's simmering racial enmities. In the eighth round he went down - and stayed down, the roar of the hard right in his ears. But the years that followed would see Errol square up against a far tougher adversary - as he found himself out in the cold, struggling to get by, and alone with only his own shattered confidence and no place to hide.
1979. The dawn of Thatcher's Britain. It's a country crippled by strikes, joblessness and economic gloom, divided by race and class - and skanking to a new beat: 2-Tone. The unruly offspring of white boy punk and rude boy ska, the new music's undeniable leaders were The Specials. Bursting out of Coventry's concrete jungle, their lyrics spoke of failed marriages, petty violence, crowded dance floors, gangsters and race hate - but with a wit that outshone their angry punk forebears. On stage they were electric, and at the heart of this energy was the vocal chemistry of the ethereal Terry Hall and Jamaican rude boy Neville Staple. In 1961, aged only five, Neville was sent to England to live with his father - a man for whom discipline bordered on child abuse. Growing up black in the Midlands of the Sixties and Seventies wasn't easy, but then Nev was hardly an angel. His youth was marked by scuffles with skins, compulsive womanising, and a life of crime that led from shoplifting to burglary and eventually borstal and Wormwood Scrubs. But throughout there was music, and now Nev tells how a very bad boy became part of the most important band of the Eighties. He remembers sound system battles; the legendary 2-Tone tour with The Selecter, Madness and Dexy's - and their clashes with NF thugs. He recalls the band's increasing tensions and eventual split; his subsequent foray into bubblegum pop with Fun Boy Three; and a new found fame in America, as godfather to bands like Gwen Stefani's No Doubt. Finally he reflects on The Specials' reunion and how even now, thirty years on, they can't help tearing themselves apart.Raucous and charming Original Rude Boy is the story of a man who done too much, much too young. Neville Staple was a frontman with The Specials, a member of the hugely successful pop trio Fun Boy Three and now tours the world with own his own ska act The Neville Staple Band. Visit him at: www.nevillestaple.co.uk Tony McMahon is a journalist and TV producer living in south London.
Across Britain, Muslims are caught up in a battle over the very nature of their faith. And extremists appear to be gaining the upper hand. Sara Khan has spent the past decade campaigning for tolerance and equal rights within Muslim communities, and is now engaged in a new struggle for justice and understanding - the urgent need to counter Islamist-inspired extremism.In this timely and courageous book, Khan shows how previously antagonistic groups of fundamentalist Muslims have joined forces, creating pressures that British society has never before encountered. What is more, identity politics and the attitudes of both the far Right and ultra-Left have combined to give the Islamists ever-increasing power to spread their message. Unafraid to tackle some of the pressing issues of our time, Sara Khan addresses the question of how to break the cycle of extremism without alienating British Muslims. She calls for all Britons to reject divisive ideologies and introduces us to those individuals who are striving to build a safer future.
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