Although he is best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian and as a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, Robert E. Howard was both a successful author of popular boxing stories and an avid amateur boxer himself. The sixteen stories and three poems collected in this volume show the full range of his talents for action, humor, and fistic philosophy.
Ten of the stories feature the sailor Steve Costigan, a lovable, hard-fisted, and innocent semipro pugilist, who takes on dastardly villains in exotic ports of call. Howard’s brilliant blue-collar humor belies his preoccupation with the real-life issues near and dear to his heart—death, honor, pride, and a man’s love for his dog
Other stories are more dramatic and somber, including “Iron Men,” which Howard called “the best fight story I ever wrote—in many ways the best story of any kind I ever wrote.” Severely edited and truncated for its original publication in 1930 in Fight Stories magazine, the tale has never been published in its original form—until now. It appears here, completely restored from Howard’s original typescript, in an authoritative version that Howard fans everywhere will appreciate.
In these stories Howard created a realistic, richly populated boxing universe, with intertwining characters and histories that carry on from tale to tale. With them he takes his place in a tradition of American boxing writers but always with a uniquely Howardian twist, a gritty brooding atmosphere, and a reserve of humor that captures the often brutal ambiance of the 1930s.