The Real McCoy
Born in 1880s Indiana, Virgil Selby’s father tells him that falsity is in his blood and encourages the youth to seek “something finer.” Gil Selby runs with the advice, but not in the direction his father intends. He heads west after stealing the name and agenda of the real McCoy, a prizefighter who practically died in Selby’s arms after a fight.
En route to his first fight, Gil meets a clever and flashy Chinese who decides that building America’s railroads with his imported countrymen is not for him. He takes McCoy under his wing and shows him Chinese boxing as well as the art of the con. Traveling medicine shows and doing odd jobs soon brings McCoy into the wilder side of life. He perfects his “corkscrew” punch and soon wins the Welterweight Championship and the heart of a dancer who becomes the only true love of his life. Life is good. Meeting people high above his humble origins, McCoy feels successful. However, his balloon bursts when his father shows up at his door to congratulate him on his success. Eventually, he reinvents himself completely. Again.
Loosely based on a real, turn-of-the-century character, this fast-paced novel is partly for boxing fans, but also for those who read for intensity of human character, relative truth, and watching people interact under the pretense of what is real.