Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Pound for Pound
F X Toole


Dan Cooley has buried his beloved wife of 40 years and all of his children. The responsibility of single-handedly raising Tim Pat, his only grandson, is the one thing strong enough to rescue him from loneliness and despair.

When Dan, a legendary boxing trainer, schools his eight-year-old grandson in ‘the sweet science’, he sees a natural athlete emerge, the possibility of an Olympic medal and the validation of a sport to which Dan has given his greatest gifts. When a cruel twist of fate intrudes on his plans, Dan is plunged into the blackest of depressions. Meanwhile, Eloy Garza, a has-been fighter battling his own demons in the shape of a morphine bottle, struggles to prevent his grandson, Chicky, from being taken in by the crime, drugs and corrupt trainers of San Antonio’s boxing circuit. Without admitting that he once met Dan Cooley in the ring – in a fight that ended both men’s careers and left them haunted by their shortcomings – Eloy sends Chicky in search of the gifted trainer and cut man, knowing that Chicky’s only chance at greatness lies far beyond Eloy’s meagre reach.

Set in towns where violence is the norm and success stories take on an almost mythic importance, Pound for Pound is an old-fashioned novel with a heart, peopled with unforgettable characters – bloody but unbowed – who ultimately find solace in one another.

Paperback, 464pp
Harvill Secker, 2006
ISBN 9780099494249


With an introduction by James Ellroy.

F. X. Toole was a professional boxing trainer and cut man who lived in Los Angeles. He died in 2002.

“A writer to break the heart… He’s the Archie Moore of his craft.” – Joyce Carol Oates