Theme: Effort and Struggle Build Character
Grades: Grades 7-8
Alfred Brooks is an African-American youth whose life is going nowhere.
Living in Harlem during the 1960s, when the civil rights movement is
beginning to open doors for African-Americans, Alfred has dropped out
of high school. He works a menial job in a grocery store and spends
much of his time watching movies. Estranged from his best friend and
targeted by a gang of thugs, he desperately wants to turn his life around.
One night, he wanders into a gym and meets Vito Donatelli, a manager
deeply concerned for the fighters he trains. Alfred puts himself through
the rigor and discipline of training, building muscle and endurance
and developing boxing skills. All the while, one question nags at him--whether
he has the heart of a contender. One way to find out is to step into
the ring against a brutal ex-Marine and stand up to the vicious battering
of his fists.