A Piece of Steak

I watched the poor-boxer-makes-good movie Cinderella Man recently, and it really echoed a classic boxing short story by Jack London: A Piece of Steak. In fact, the script had Russel Crowe specifically talk about “a piece of steak” in what must have been an allusion.

If you’ve never read it, I think that this story is worth a look because it really focuses on the battle of youth versus experience as a tired, old, dirt poor, washed up fighter uses wisdom and tricks to wear down and attempt to defeat an up-and-coming young buck.

This is the paragraph that has stayed with me over the years:

And Tom King patiently endured. He knew his business, and he knew Youth now that Youth was no longer his. There was nothing to do till the other lost some of his steam, was his thought, and he grinned to himself as he deliberately ducked so as to receive a heavy blow on the top of his head. It was a wicked thing to do, yet eminently fair according to the rules of the boxing game. A man was supposed to take care of his own knuckles, and, if he insisted on hitting an opponent on the top of the head, he did so at his own peril. King could have ducked lower and let the blow whiz harmlessly past, but he remembered his own early fights and how he smashed his first knuckle on the head of the Welsh Terror. He was but playing the game. That duck had accounted for one of Sandel’s knuckles. Not that Sandel would mind it now. He would go on, superbly regardless, hitting as hard as ever throughout the fight. But later on, when the long ring battles had begun to tell, he would regret that knuckle and look back and remember how he smashed it on Tom King’s head.