Thursday, March 1, 2012

Boxing Stories

I have long been somewhat of a boxing fan. I’m nowhere near an aficionado, nor can I quote stats and records. But, I know the big names, some of the more renown rivalries, and have watched a lot of good (as well as a lot of not-so-good) bouts on TV and PPV. Basically, I’m a fan. Not a fanatic, just a fan.

I’m also a huge fan of boxing movies. The ‘Sweet Science’ has always been a great backdrop for human drama. I mean, who doesn’t find themselves shouting “ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!” when they watch those films? And even films based on true events can be very dramatic and enjoyable. Cinderella Man, for instance, has more heart and guts than a lot of other dramas.

So, it would stand to reason that since I like boxing, and boxing films, than I would like boxing fiction, right? Well, up until about six or seven years ago, I had never read any. And up until just recently, the only boxing fiction I had read was the tales of Sailor Steve Costigan, by Robert E. Howard. And you know what? Nothing wrong with that. The Costigan stories are quite spectacular, and Steve is probably my second-favorite REH character, next to Conan himself.

About a month ago, I got on a kick. I wanted to find some other fight fiction from the Pulp days. So, I did some searches, but really couldn’t find anything in the public domain (finances being what they are). Then, on Amazon, I stumbled across the Fight Card books. At the time, the first two were free, so I grabbed them. And I absolutely DO NOT regret that.

The Fight Card stories are written under the pseudonym of Jack Tunny, but are the brainchild and product of Mel Odom, who wrote The Cut Man, and Paul Bishop, who wrote Felony Fists. These two are related in that they each tell the stories of two brothers who grew up as orphans, but whose lives diverged. A third book, Split Decision by Eric Beetner, has also been published, but I’m not sure of the relation, if any, to the other two yet.  As of this writing, they are all three available as free Kindles.

The Fight Card books are independent stories, and can be read in any order. I started with The Cut Man, mainly because it evoked a lot of the feel and imagery of the Costigan stories. The main character, Mick Flynn, is a crewman on Merchant marine ship in the mid-1950’s. The story takes place in Havana, Cuba, and involves not only boxing, but gangsters, grifting, and a little romance. Told in first person, it’s laced with some easy language, a bit of technical jargon, and is set at an easy, breezy pace. Though I got it for free, I would have gladly paid the $2.99 tag.

After I finished The Cut Man, I dug right into Felony Fists. This one is a detective noir story, set in LA during the same period. It centers around Patrick, Mick’s younger brother, who is a cop with a penchant for taking no guff from criminals. It gets him a promotion, as well as the unwanted attention of the gangster who took over Bugsy Siegel’s operations when he died. So far, it’s really good, and I’m only a few chapters in.

All in all, I highly recommend these to anyone who is into old-fashioned pulpy goodness.


David J. West said...

Very cool. That Bison "Boxing Stories" is the last one I still need to get to complete that end of the REH collection. Those other tales sound pretty good too.

Eric Beetner said...

Glad you are liking the Fightcard stories and I hope you like Split Decision. There's no relation to the fightin' Flynn boys, but all the books have links back to Father Tim and the orphanage. It let's the stories be individual and yet function in the same world.
Let me know what you think.


Manny made Floyd looked terrible last May 2. I think the fans deserve much better than Floyd ducking and hugging throughout the fight. A message from Manny Pacquiao's blog page aims to pacify the fans.