I am too young to remember the halcyon days of pulp fiction, but as a child growing up in the 1970s, there was always a lot of brutal entertainment on television. We would regularly watch ‘TV Ringside’ with Ron Casey, and on Sunday afternoon was ‘World Championship Wrestling’. I must admit, as a kid, it was a lot easier watching the antics of the wrestlers than understanding the science of boxing. I used to marvel at the athleticism of Mario Milano, Killer Karl Kox and (my personal favourite) Bruiser Brody. After each show, my brother and I would go out into the back yard and get on the trampoline and re-enact the moves we had seen. You see, the trampoline was our ring. The trampoline was great for ‘knee-stomps’ because you’d bounce back up again.
I have told this story before, but what the heck, we are friends here right? On occasions the shenanigans on the trampoline could be a little dangerous — this was back in the mid ’70s mind you, and trampolines weren’t what they are now. There was no padding or netting to protect you or stop you from falling off. One afternoon, my brother jumped off the trampoline early and I must have been too close to the edge. Without my brother to counterbalance me, my weight tipped the trampoline and I was sent flying. What I have neglected to tell you is that our trampoline was situated next to a barb-wire fence. So I flew through the air, back first, and landed on this fence where I was hung up. Of course my brother ran off and got our father who lifted me up and off the barbs. No real damage done. Oh, the halcyon days of youth . . . but back on to the topic at hand, which is biffo.
However, by the 1980s Wrestling was all but a forgotten memory on Australian TV, and boxing took over. In Lester Ellis and Jeff Fenech we had two bona-fide boxing champions. Their fights were shown on prime time, practically stopping the nation. Fennech’s “I love youse all” became a national catchphrase.
Below are a few youtube clips from Fenech’s title fight with Samart Payakaroon – who, after a popular comedy record hit the streets, was re-dubbed by Aussie yobs, as ‘Smart Arse Payakaroon’ (myself included, but hey, I was just a kid). These clips were uploaded by noteatpig2getha
But as always, I am talking about myself, rather than the topic of the post. So let’s look at Felony Fists. The story is a bout (see what I did there?) an L.A. cop named Patrick ‘Felony’ Flynn, who also happens to be an amateur boxer. When we meet him, he is fighting Lester ‘Killer’ Carter. Carter happens to be trying to impress big time gangster Mickey Cohen who is watching the fight. If Carter can prove he has got the goods, Cohen will put him on as one of his boys. But of course, Flynn has other ideas.
Also watching the fight with Cohen, is another fighter; a wrecking machine who is moving up through the ranks fast, named Solomon King. King is one of Cohen’s stable, and if King were able to win a Championship belt, it would allow Cohen to further extend his illegal activities into the world of boxing. So, many people don’t want King to get a title shot, including the Chief of Police who is keen on shutting Cohen down.
But as I alluded to earlier, King is a wrecking machine – one hell of a tough fighter. So that begs the question, who can stand against King, and in the process dent Cohen’s plans. Well, I shouldn’t have to ask.
In some ways Felony Fists is predictable – you know exactly where the story is heading – but that is half the fun. It’s not the destination that counts, but the journey, and traveling along with Paul’s characters was an absolute joy. While reading the book, I must have looked like a right proper berk, with a cheesy grin from ear to ear. The tag at the end of Chapter 4, when Police Chief Parker assigns Flynn to his next case had me laughing out loud.
The ongoing Fight Card series is going to feature other popular authors presenting their slant on old time Boxing fiction, and as I alluded to earlier, it is not a form of literature I am well versed in, but if the series maintains the standard set by Felony Fists, then consider me a convert. I will be looking forward to each and every installment.
Now you’re probably thinking that this doesn’t sound too ‘spy’! And you’re absolutely right. It’s a pulp thriller about boxing, but it also happens to be written by fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. (Coalition Of Bloggers wRiting About Spies) agent Paul Bishop, and rest assured he is not going to allow the story to pass without at least a nod to one of his favourite Spy TV shows of the ’60s… can you spot it?
Set in Outback Australia, in Birdsville, one of the most remote towns on the planet, two rival boxing tents set up shop in competition with each other. In the sweltering heat, tensions simmer, tempers flare, and a tent burns.