The Barfighter: A Literary Knockout

BY Robert Mladinich ON March 24, 2009

Few writers describe the gritty underbelly or the glorious pageantry of boxing better than Ivan Goldman, a longtime contributor to The RING magazine. His forthcoming novel, “The Barfighter,” which will be published in April, depicts, among other things, the sleazy netherworld of boxing during its last heyday of the 1980s.

This wonderful book follows the life of the fictional Lee Cheskis, an Army-trained boxer and journalist who lands in hot water after engaging in a bar brawl of his own making. In a court-mandated anger management class, he encounters a gangbanger named Marvin who wants to learn how to box so he can channel his unbridled anger in a more productive way.

The ensuing road the duo embarks on is engaging, sentimental, hard-nosed and full of more twists and turns than a title fight between two evenly matched contestants. It also provides a window into the world of boxing beyond the ring, and all of the vagaries, ambiguities and nuances that make it the most compelling sport of all.

Ultimately, “The Barfighter” is a tale of redemption that has been described by various reviewers as “a cracking read” with “a bare knuckle finish,” “a literary knockout” that is “superbly crafted,” and “entertaining and acutely observed” where “the boxing milieu and mindset are utterly persuasive.”

Kirkus Reviews calls it “A winner.” Although that is a glowing testimonial, it doesn’t even begin to describe what a wonderful book this is for boxing fans, as well for ordinary readers drawn to compelling human dramas with characters who are vividly complex and all too human.

“The Barfighter” can be ordered from, as well as through and Anyone wishing to interview the author should contact Martin Shepard at The Permanent Press, phone 631-725-1101 or by e-mail at:

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