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Clay Moyle Talks About His Obsession with Boxing Books (with Tips for Collectors)

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How many boxing books does one really need to own? I don’t know, but I’m sure that I blew by whatever that number is a long time ago. I’m just as sure, that I know a number of fellows who’d probably answer that one can never really have too many boxing books. You see, there are an awful lot of oddballs among serious collectors, but that’s a topic for another article.

Not long after going to a boxing gym for a year in my early 30’s, I got the idea to try and acquire a biography about every world heavyweight champion since the time of John L. Sullivan. That was the spark that lit a fire that quickly raged out of control.

How so? Well, to begin with, during that initial pursuit, I began to come across other boxing books that I thought might be interesting, so I opted to purchase many of those as well. One thing led to another, and it wasn’t all that long before my new objective somehow became to add every boxing book ever written in the English language to my personal collection.

Now that’s obviously a never-ending quest as there are seemingly many that are next to impossible to find, and of course new boxing books are being written all the time. In hindsight, I’ve often thought it would have been much more sensible to target a smaller niche for myself. For example, maybe just a specific era, only non-fiction, anything saner.

I probably purchased around 300 books during the first year of my new sickness. It was about that time, that I made the acquaintance of a serious boxing book collector in Denmark named Niels Thorsen. Niels had a collection of 1,500 boxing titles at the time. I remember wondering how on earth one individual could amass a collection of that many boxing books.

But yet, here I am 30+ years later, with a personal collection of over 4,600 boxing-related books, and an understanding of how it can come about.

To begin with, I think one has to have a few loose screws and a tendency to become completely obsessed with accomplishing a goal once they’ve set their mind to it. Anybody who knows me well, would probably suggest that I fit that description pretty well.

It also takes an awful lot of time, effort and persistence to build a collection this large. When I reflect upon my own journey, I can recall a great number of things that I did along the way that I believe were key to my efforts to build a collection this large, including each of the following:

Visiting Used Bookstores
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved visiting used bookstores. There’s just something about searching bookshelves for treasure, the thrill of coming across a book of interest, holding it in your hands and getting the opportunity to flip through the pages.

This is a primary way that serious book collectors built their collections in the past.  Those whose professions required them to travel, had the additional benefit of being able to take advantage of the opportunity to visit bookstores in those cities and I’ve met a number of parties who did that for years. Leaving a business card behind when you leave with your interests written on the back can sometimes prove fruitful as well.

I’ve frequented used bookstores for years, and continue to do, though I no longer expect to find as many desired books that way for reasons that will become apparent shortly.

Writing or Phoning Bookstores
In addition to visiting bookstores in other cities while traveling, I often used to phone those I couldn’t get to personally, while killing time in an airport or during spare time in my hotel room. This proved beneficial on many occasions, and sometimes provided me with some useful leads.

I know others who regularly wrote to bookstores to inquire about available books in their field of interest.

The Internet
The arrival of the internet created opportunities for serious collectors that just didn’t exist previously. Once the internet arrived, and a proliferation of websites began to crop up, it didn’t take me long to learn of a site named AbeBooks. AbeBooks is derived from their original name “Advanced Book Exchange.” They were founded in 1995 and launched their website in 1996 when their listings only included the inventory of four bookstores.

That changed very quickly as booksellers all over the world learned that they could make their inventory of books available to customers worldwide on-line. Today, the site is described as an e-commerce global online marketplace that specializes in rare and out-of-print books and they became a subsidiary of Amazon in 2008.

With the advent of used book sites like AbeBooks, many longtime used bookstores began disappearing. Sellers realized they could reach a much, much wider audience selling their books exclusively on-line, and there was no need to bear the expense of a traditional brick and mortar store presence when there were much cheaper ways to store their inventories.

Sites like AbeBooks are both an incredible resource and a curse for the serious collector. They’re an unbelievable resource from the standpoint that one can now so easily search the inventories of bookstores all over the world. And a curse, because it’s become so much easier to find treasure to spend your money on.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that there was a time when I routinely searched the AbeBooks site for new inventory listings as many as 30-40 times per day.

Personal Website
I don’t remember when I began selling boxing books as well, but at some point, I pretty quickly realized that I could partially help fund my book purchasing addiction with the profits realized from buying and reselling duplicate boxing books. As I became more knowledgeable concerning the values of specific titles, I began routinely coming across a number that I knew I could quickly flip for a profit.

Acquiring duplicate books, as well as other boxing memorabilia, ultimately led to the creation of my own website (www.prizefightingbooks.com) from which I list and sell my own inventory of duplicate boxing books and other boxing memorabilia that I have available.

Or course, that inventory has also become much larger than originally planned and there are now over 2,500 boxing books listed for sale on the site as well as many magazines, programs, autographs, artwork, etc.

An unexpected benefit of creating the website is that it led to many parties contacting me with specific books, or entire collections, of boxing books that they wished to sell.

Purchasing Collections
Purchasing another party’s collection can be a pricey proposition. But it’s a quick way to acquire a large number of books to add to and upgrade your collection. It can also prove to be a relatively inexpensive way to build your collection if you can resell the duplicates, especially if a number of those duplicate books are rare and/or scarce titles. The fact that purchasing a collection often results in acquiring a number of common titles as well is one reason I have so many copies of specific titles on my website.

Many times, the purchase of a collection has enabled me to add many rare titles at a very reasonable price as a result of profits that I was able to realize from the sale of the duplicate titles. Of course, you’re liable to end up with a lot of unsold duplicates as well.

The purchase of collections, and a willingness to take on the work of reselling the duplicates, has been one key to my success in building a collection of this size.

Auction Sites
I acquired a number of books on eBay over the years. Some for very good prices, others pretty steep depending upon the rarity. While I didn’t usually find it the most economical way to purchase books I desired, I also occasionally purchased a few from sites like the Leland and Heritage Auction sites. There are many others that one can search.

Simply Making Folks Aware of Your Interests and Plain Old Good Luck
Sometimes simply making individuals aware of your interests can really pay off. Roughly eight years ago, I came across a used book store listing of a $25 signed softcover book by The Ring magazine founder and longtime editor Nat Fleischer and purchased it for resale. When I paid for the book, I added a comment to let the seller know that I’d be interested to learn of anything else he might acquire of that nature. Well, in this particular case that paid off more than I could have possibly imagined.

The seller replied and let me know they’d just acquired a large number of books, manuscripts and personal files that had belonged to Nat Fleischer. They had been kept in storage for decades by the decedents of Fleischer’s son-in-law Nat Loubet and he hadn’t had a chance to inventory it all yet. In fact, the book that I’d purchased from him was the first thing he’d listed.

I immediately let him know that I was interested in the possibility of purchasing what he’d acquired and eagerly awaited a list of offerings and prices.

As it turned out, there was an awful lot more treasure than I expected. But when the seller provided an asking price for the entire lot, I couldn’t say “Yes” fast enough.

So, I fired off a check and within a couple weeks a number of large boxes arrived in the mail. It took weeks for me to properly inventory everything but I loved every minute of it.

The purchase included many boxing books that were written by Fleischer, many of which he’d inscribed to his son-in-law as being the first off the press.

But my biggest thrill was when I discovered that what I’d purchased included a number of complete unpublished manuscripts by Fleischer. For example, where was a large 268,000 words bound four-volume works titled ‘The History of Prizefighting in Literature.’ I later discovered this monster was never published because it was considered too large by the various publishing house’s he shared it with at the time. In fact, the collection included a letter from one publisher turning it down for that specific reason.

Self-publishing a work wasn’t really the option then that it is today, so despite the fact that Nat wrote and published so many boxing books, this particular title and a number of other manuscripts of his were never published.

There were two other huge unpublished works titled ‘The History of Prizefighting in New York’ and ‘The History of Prizefighting in Chicago.’

There were also many other exciting unpublished works written about fighters such as Tom Sharkey, Dan Donnelly, and others, as well as original manuscripts for many of his published boxing books, typewritten pieces that had been used in The Ring, and of course a lot of personal correspondence between he and various parties.

Ultimately, I kept the books, and sold a good chunk of it, including personal files, correspondence and some of the unpublished manuscripts to a university that I knew would take good care of it.

At the time, the bookseller told me that he hadn’t acquired everything in the collection, but he’d acquired everything they were willing to part with at that time. So, I held out hope that he’d one day purchase more and I’d hear from him again.

Sure enough, he eventually phoned me again and let me know that he’d purchased three more large boxes and asked if I’d be interested in those as well.

We quickly agreed upon a price and I received more unpublished manuscripts, scrapbooks, letters, and photos.

It was only later, that I came across an August 1962 Sports Illustrated article about Fleischer and read about the unpublished manuscripts that were sitting in his safe in his Madison Square Garden office at that time, and realized that it had all somehow found their way into my own home a half century later!

So, you just never know what might come about from taking the extra step to make people aware of your collecting interests and what you might be willing to purchase.

Treasured Books
Sometimes I’m asked which of my books I value the most. While I have many rare old titles from the 18th and 19th centuries that are worth more money, the books that I personally treasure the most are those that are signed or inscribed to other parties of note. Many of those are among my personal favorites. A dozen of them would include the following:

  • ‘The Roosevelt That I Know. And Recollections of the Most Famous American Fighting Man’ by American Middleweight Champion, Mike Donovan. 1909. This book is a terrific read as it contains insights concerning many of the greats that Donovan knew including the likes of John L. Sullivan, Theodore Roosevelt, Jack Dempsey and many others. For many years, I assumed it was issued without a dust jacket, but one day I discovered it with a very good dust jacket. It’s still the only time I’ve come across it with a jacket. Furthermore, it’s inscribed by Donovan in 1909 to his friend William Pinkerton.
  • ‘The Golden People’ by Paul Gallico. 1965. Profiles of numerous legends of sport. This one has a signed bookplate of Bing Crosby and is also signed to him by both Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney.
  • ‘Champions Off Guard’ by William O. Inglis. 1932. Terrific read with a beautiful dust jacket. The author not only personally knew many of the early legendary world heavyweight champions such as John L., Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jack Dempsey, and Gene Tunney, and provides interesting insights about them, but he sparred with a number of them and details those experiences. One of my favorite reads, my copy is also inscribed to the famous early promoter James W. Coffroth.
  • ‘Battling Nelson. Lightweight Champion of The World’ by Battling Nelson. 1909. The autobiography of the great champion. This one is also inscribed “With best wishes from one champion to another. To James J. Jeffries, Heavyweight champion, From Battling Nelson, Lightweight champion Los Angles, Cal. July 12, 1909.”
  • ‘My Life and Battles’ by James J. Jeffries. 1910. Fairly scarce title, this one is inscribed by the famous sportswriter cartoonist Bob Edgren on July 4, 1910, the date of the Johnson-Jeffries title fight.
  • ‘The Tumult and The Shouting’ by Grantland Rice. 1954. Signed by Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Doc Blanchard, Gene Sarazan, Toots Shor, Johnny Weismuller and others.
  • ‘Relief to Royalty. The Story of James J. Braddock’ by Lud. 1936. Inscribed by Braddock to promoter Mike Jacobs.
  • ‘Two Fisted Jeff’ (James J. Jeffries) by Hugh Fullerton. 1929. Signed by Jeffries
  • ‘Physical Culture and Self Defence’ by Bob Fitzsimmons. 1901. Inscribed by Fitzsimmons.
  • ‘Jack Johnson the Man with Boxing Instructions and Health Hints’ 1932. Signed by Johnson
  • ‘The Prize Ring’ by Bohun Lynch. 1925. Long inscription from former light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran.
  • ‘God, Gloves and Glory. An Autobiography’ 1956 by Henry Armstrong. This book by the first man to simultaneously hold three world titles isn’t particularly scarce. But what makes this one unique is the long inscription “To the Greatest, Ray Robinson.”

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG 

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG

Two bouts between women, which will turn the winners into undisputed champions in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, will create an electrifying atmosphere this Saturday, February 4th at Madison Square Garden.

In the duel between the two southpaws, Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs), based in Brooklyn), will defend her 126-pound WBC, IBF and WBO titles, while Mexican Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will defend her WBA title.

Also, of great interest will be the fight between American Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), 130-pound WBC, IBF and WBO champion and her opponent, French challenger Elhem Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs), who will try to snatch Baumgardner’s titles and get the vacant WBA title, which belonged to the undefeated Korean Choi Hyun-Mi (20-1, 5 KOs).

Choi, who was born in Pyongyang, North Korea but left the country with her family at the age of 14 and settled in Seoul, South Korea, was declared “Champion in Recess”, as she suffers from a medical condition that prevents her from fighting. Once she fully recovers, she will have the possibility of facing, as a mandatory challenger, the winner between Baumgardner and Mekhaled.

For Baumgardner, who was born 28 years ago in Ohio, but now lives and trains in Michigan, the fight in New York will once again allow her to showcase her skills in the United States after three consecutive fights in the United Kingdom.

In her most recent bout, Baumgardner defeated her compatriot Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) in a difficult brawl, from whom she snatched the IBF and WBO belts, while retaining the WBC belt. The bout was October 15th of last year at the O2 Arena in London. Two of the officials, Steve Gray and John Latham, scored the fight 96-95 in favor of Baumgardner, but Terry O’Connor saw it 97-93 for Mayer.

Four days later, Choi unanimously defeated Canada’s Vanessa Bradford (6-4-2, 0 KOs) in Seoul, earning the Asian her ninth successful defense of the WBA super featherweight crown, which she has held since May 2014, when she anesthetized the now retired Thai, Siriwan Thongmanit.

The following month, in November, the WBA ordered Choi to defend her belt in a mandatory duel against Baumgardner, making the winner the undisputed queen of 130 pounds.

ELHEM MEKHALED FILLS THE VACANCY OF SOUTH KOREAN CHOI

To fill the vacancy of the South Korean Choi, the IBF Committee awarded the position to Mekhaled who ranks third in the women’s 130-pound rankings.

Former interim WBC titleholder, Mekhaled, 31 years old and born in Paris, has recently lost by unanimous decision to Belgian Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs) at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi where they disputed the vacant WBC silver belt.

The duel against Baumgardner not only allows Mekhaled to debut in the United States, but also provides her the opportunity to become the undisputed champion at 130 pounds.

Mekhaled emphasized that the February 4th event has great significance for women fighters and that this is a sign that the discipline is growing, with more and more fight cards in which women exhibit the leading role.

The French boxer said that after winning the interim title in 2015, she waited a long time for the opportunity to fight for the regular belt, but unfortunately it never materialized.

Mekhaled explained that after a long period of focusing on her personal life and not really training, she accepted the duel with Delfine Persoon with only two weeks of preparation, which led to the setback against the Belgian boxer.

“Since my WBC interim 2019 title, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said Mekhaled. “Maybe fate has played well; instead of one belt, they’re all on the line. I am super excited to fight on February 4th at the legendary MSG in New York. God knows how determined I am! It’s my time to shine. Thank you to my advisor Sarah Fina.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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How good is Jake Paul? Shane Mosley’s Answer May Surprise You

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Few celebrities in the world today are as polarizing as Jake Paul. The 26-year-old Cleveland native who fights Tommy Fury in an 8-round match on Feb. 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has fervent fans and equally fervent detractors. To long-time aficionados of boxing, especially those born before the arrival of the internet, Jake Paul and his ilk are widely looked upon as a scourge.

Paul first entered the squared circle on Aug. 25, 2018, at the Manchester Arena in England. He fought fellow YouTube star Deji Olatunji in the co-feature to a match between their respective older brothers, Logan Paul and the “influencer” known as KSI. The combatants promoted the event on their social media platforms

These were exhibitions fought with headgear. Jake Paul stopped Olatunji whose corner pulled him out after five rounds. However, the results wouldn’t appear on boxrec, the sport’s official record-keeper.

No serious boxing fan paid this curious event any heed, but the folks that profit from the sport without taking any punches stood up and took notice. The on-site gate reportedly exceeded $3 million. The event reportedly generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys worldwide (youtube charged $10 a pop) with nearly as many beholders catching a free ride on a pirate stream. A new era was born, or at least a new sub-set of a heretofore calcified sport.

Jake Paul had his first professional fight on Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami. In the opposite corner was a British social media personality of Saudi Arabian lineage who took the name AnEsonGib. Paul stopped him in the opening round.

Paul fought once more that year, knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson, and three times in 2021, opposing Ben Askren and then Tyron Woodley twice. Askren and Woodley were former MMA champions who had fabled careers as U.S. collegiate wrestlers, but both were newcomers to boxing.

According to Forbes, Jake Paul made $31 million from boxing in 2021. And therein lies the rub. While thousands of would-be future champions, many with deep amateur backgrounds, toiled away in boxing gyms honing their craft while hoping to attract the eye of an important promoter, a guy like Jake Paul came along and jumped the queue. It just ain’t fair.

In preparation for his pro debut against AnEson Gib, Paul spent time in Big Bear, California, training at the compound of Shane Mosley. A first ballot Hall of Famer (class of 2020), Mr. Mosley needs no introduction to readers of this web site. And when he says that Jake Paul is legit, one is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“I taught him the fundamentals,” says Mosley, “but Jake was a good listener and a hard worker. He’s a good athlete and he has a boxer’s mentality. We took him down the street to Abel Sanchez’s gym and had him spar with real professional fighters. He would spar with anybody and when he got caught with a hard punch he wouldn’t back down. He loves the sport and he relished the competition.”

Mosley stops short of saying that Jake Paul could hold his own with Canelo Alvarez – Paul preposterously called out Canelo after out-pointing 47-year-old MMA legend Anderson Silva in his most recent fight – but with so many titles up for grabs in this balkanized sport, it wouldn’t   surprise Mosely if the self-styled “Problem Child” latched hold of one before this phase of his life was over.

A three-time national amateur champion and a world champion at 135, 147, and 154 pounds as a pro, Shane Mosley put Pomona, California on the boxing map. He represented that city in LA county throughout his illustrious career. His son of the same name was born there.

Mosley fought twice in his hometown as he was coming up the ladder and will be back there again on Feb. 18 when Shane Mosley Jr appears on the undercard of a Golden Boy Promotions card at Pomona’s historic Fox Theater. It’s not official yet so we won’t divulge the name of Shane’s opponent, but the main event will pit Luis Nery against Azat Hovhannisyan in a WBC Super Bantamweight Eliminator, a match that shapes up as an entertaining skirmish as both have fan-friendly styles.

Shane Mosley Jr Sr

Shane Mosley Jr & Sr

Shane Mosley Jr, who turned 31 in December, will never replicate his father’s fistic accomplishments; his dad set the bar too high. But the younger Mosley is a solid pro who is on a pretty nice roll, having won five of his last six since losing a 10-round decision to Brandon Adams in the finals of season 5 of The Contender series. In his last outing, he out-slicked rugged Gabriel Rosado to win a regional super middleweight title.

The elder Mosely has been working with his son at Bones Adams gym in Las Vegas and will be in junior’s corner on Feb. 18. It will be a double-homecoming for Pomona’s favorite sons.

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Arne K. Lang’s third boxing book, titled “George Dixon, Terry McGovern and the Culture of Boxing in America, 1890-1910,” has rolled off the press. Published by McFarland, the book can be ordered directly from the publisher or via Amazon.

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Amanda Serrano Seeks Undisputed Status at 126 with Katie Taylor on the Horizon 

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After becoming the boxing icon of Puerto Rico last year, Amanda Serrano will try to make history again when she faces the Mexican southpaw Erika Cruz on February 4th at the Hulu theater in Madison Square Garden.

Promoter Eddie Hearn stated, “Puerto Rico vs Mexico fights always deliver fireworks, and we can expect nothing less when Amanda and Erika meet. Their clash of styles will make for a brilliant spectacle as Amanda and her army of fans return to the scene of her history-making fight of the year with Katie, and we can expect a similar atmosphere to one of the greatest nights the sport has ever seen.”

Champion in several sanctioning bodies, Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs) will put her WBC, IBF and WBO featherweight belts on the line, while Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will be defending the WBA belt. If she succeeds, the thirty-four-year-old Serrano, a native of Puerto Rico who has lived in Brooklyn, New York since childhood, will become the first boxer from Puerto Rico to hold the four most recognized belts in boxing.

“This is a pivotal moment, not just for me and my own career but for my home island of Puerto Rico,” said Serrano. “Earning the opportunity to be an undisputed lineal champion is something most fighters only dream about but becoming the first boxer from Puerto Rico to be an undisputed champion would make it even more special. I look forward to entering the ring in my hometown of NYC back at Madison Square Garden, taking on a Mexican champion in Erika Cruz and making Puerto Rican history. I encourage all my fans to turn up and tune in!”

The Puerto Rican boxer, who has won 30 of her 46 fights within the distance, said that if Cruz has a tactical plan in place that consists of exchanging punches, the bout will not go the 10 scheduled rounds.

Last September, Serrano unanimously defeated then-undefeated Dane Sarah Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KOs, in Manchester, England. Previously, in April, Serrano lost a split decision to Ireland’s Katie Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) who successfully defended her four lightweight belts. Two judges scored the fight (97-93) for Taylor and the other (96-94) in favor of Serrano.

Taylor and Serrano became the first female boxers to headline a boxing match at Madison Square Garden. The two ladies also made history by each receiving a check for more than a million dollars which had an increase from pay-per-view earnings.

Referring to a possible rematch against Taylor, Serrano commented that if she beats Cruz, as expected, and if/when she meets Taylor for the second time (possibly in May in Ireland), it would be an epic duel between two undisputed champions: Serrano at 126 pounds and Taylor at 135.

Even though Serrano longs for a rematch with Taylor, she realizes that her immediate challenge is Cruz and has assured us that she is in excellent shape physically, technically, and mentally. She has increased the amount of sparring in camp, focusing on aggressiveness and explosiveness. She’s also added a sports massage therapist to her team which has helped with recovery.

In regard to a second confrontation between Serrano and Taylor, promoter Eddie Hearn stated, “For Serrano to become undisputed at 126 and then fight Katie again for the undisputed at 135 at Croke Park in Dublin, it would make that rematch even bigger if you can imagine that.”

Cruz, 32 years old and born in Mexico City, has put together a win streak of 14 following her loss to compatriot Alondra González on June 25, 2016, in Puebla, Mexico. Cruz conquered the WBA world belt on April 22, 2022, when she defeated Canadian Jelena Mrdjenovich who was unable to continue in the seventh round due to a cut caused by an accidental headbutt.

Erika Cruz

Erika Cruz

Five months later, on September 3, Cruz faced Mrdjenovich for a second time and again came out with her arm raised, this time winning by unanimous decision in Hermosillo, Mexico, where she retained the WBA title for the second time.

Cruz is looking forward to the matchup with Serrano. “I am grateful that this opportunity was finally given to me after many years of work,” said Cruz. “I have always gone against everything, but God is on my side, and he has given me the strength to achieve my goals. It’s time to make history and give Mexico its first unified champion at 126 lbs.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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