The Fighter – By Craig Dawson

The Fighter by Craig Dawson


Craig Dawson is one of the most acclaimed writers in Canada.

Arguably, his most popular book up to date is ‘The Fighter’ which went on to receive unprecedented success and in 2010 was literary adapted as a film by the same tittle winning two Oscars.

Main Premise

The book is about the sport of boxing where two fighters’, Paul Harris and Rob Tully, paths meet.

Rob, 16 years of age, is an amateur who fights because he comes from a poor family and feels it is a release from the burden and weight of expectations being placed on him to fend for his family.

Fighting is also expected from him due to his family’s boxing background. Rob doesn’t understand this relationship though since his Uncle Tommy is a wasted man having been unsuccessful in the sport and represents the failures that poor boxing can bring about.

Rob’s approach to boxing is not from a position of passion, his main fear is the suffering he will inflict upon others, not the pain and suffering that could happen to him.

He doesn’t care, the physical pain is a relieve from his daily routine and the mental pain this causes him.

On the other hand, there is Paul, the privileged, the son of Ontario winery owners high up the social tree.

Paul is hedonistic and wastes his life away by not taking his job seriously and messing around with the daughters of his father’s acquaintances.

Paul’s life changes when in his usual jerky ways taunts a drunken man but the man replies by pulverizing Paul and leaving him for dead.

For most this encounter would snap a person back to reality. But not Paul, the experience makes him want to have others feel helpless, feel the hurt and pain that he did.

Paul decides to enter the world of underground fighting where he is exposed to brutality and ushered into another world where he is obsessed with aggression and violence to unleash the rage that transpired because of the life he has lived.

Paul and Rob paths collide when Paul first takes on Tommy, Rob’s uncle in a match which Paul has an unlikely but brutal win. Rob, after witnessing the fight, wants to settle the score for his Uncle, and sets up a fight with Paul.

I won’t tell you the outcome, you may be surprised.

My Take on the Story

The feeling that one gets after reading the book is that Paul is a troubled man, always seeking, but never finding purpose.

His measure of a man was imprinted in wealth but after violent altercations, his measure of worth is physicality.

What one notices is a contrast between the fighters. Paul is fighting to escape the coddled and grandeur that his life has been influenced by to seek a new meaning while Rob is battling to have a taste of the very life that Paul is running away from.

The author Craig Davidson is coarse, direct and unrelenting in his descriptions of raw violence and moments of grit. You feel every broken bone and shattered muscle in his words.

About the Author & Book

While he was writing this book the author Craig Dawson took the human growth hormone (HGH) somatropin.

He did it for research purposes so that he could be tuned with the characters that were in his book to have a more genuine texture to what they were going through in the violent sport.

He tells the story in an article for Esquire Magazine. I was amazed at his open honestly, saying he couldn’t find somatropin for sale in pharmaceutical stores and had to go online to black market dealers to find it. He said he needs to charge more for the book because the somatropin price was outrageous at the time.

I can’t imagine injecting HGH into myself so I could have a better idea what a character was feeling. I think I would just ask someone!


I’m not sure what it is about this week. I picked two books that are rich in testosterone (another review coming up later this week is on bodybuilding), maybe I…well I’m not going to say it and embarrass myself.

Anyway…this book, though pretty graphic, more so than my generally liking was still a good read. Dawson did a great job developing the characters. The worst part was the plot was pretty much what I expected. There are a couple of plot twists, but follows the path most people would expect.

That said, I was engaged with the book and have to rate it UnPutDownable! The writing was enough without plot twists to keep my fingers turning the pages.

If you come across The Fighter pick it up!