Bardowell ably demonstrates the power of the media to determine the narratives around these sporting lives. He flags up the false binaries often promoted between good (patriotic) and bad (self-centred) black sportswomen and men; between, for instance, the avuncular, self-deprecating boxer Frank Bruno and the aloof Lennox Lewis (more expedient Canadian than true Brit)... No Win Race can seem a little pedestrian in the telling but it’s a valuable act of remembrance of sporting stars who put their careers on the line in pursuit of a moral right.
Bardowell does an excellent and passionate job of refracting the issues within sport — the dearth of black football managers, the lack of activism from black athletes who have made it into the spotlight — into wider society. Using lines from hip-hop — Bardowell was formerly a music journalist — he celebrates the undervalued breakthroughs of football personalities such as John Barnes and Ian Wright. Yet although the author sounds a note of cautious hope, this book illustrates just how little parity has emerged from the those moments of promise.