Surfing’s answer to Ali vs. Foreman

A sport can be said to have come of age when it generates a memorable rivalry — a clash of personalities so powerful that it raises the level of athleticism, attracts more fans (and money), and yields some lasting journalism in the process.

In Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo (out 5/29), author Andy Martin provides a history of contemporary big-wave surfing embedded within a thrilling account of its two most intense competitors: Bradshaw, the calm, philosophical all-American from Texas, and Foo, the Chinese immigrant determined to make a name for himself. Starting with their first face-off in 1982 on the raging waters of Hawaii’s Waimea Bay, Foo and Bradshaw would battle for more than a decade, with each encounter bringing greater attention — and danger — to their competitions. Until next month, when we learn what David Milch’s surf-centric HBO series John from Cincinnati turns out to be, this is the summer sports narrative to beat.

BUY Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo (Bloomsbury; 246 pages; hardcover)

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Surfing’s answer to Ali vs. Foreman