Cascade, by Craig Davidson

(With Photographic Evidence)

Boxing Match #1:

In Spring 2006, I get a call from my Penguin publicist, Stephen Myers. He asks if Iíd be willing to get into a fight—like, a boxing match—to promote the Canadian launch of my first novel The Fighter. I think he mayíve imagined, since I wrote a book about boxing, that I knew my ass from my elbow about boxing; this, of course, was not the case. I couldíve as easily written a book called THE FIGHTER PILOT without ever setting foot in a planeís cockpit. In any case, I set out a challenge on my blog and was met by serious challengers, jokey challengers (". . . letís fight in wedding gowns and hit one another with whiffle bats . . ." / ". . . you fight me and my buddy at the same time; weíre both pretty short . . .") and a few deranged challengers. Once the real ones were weeded from the less-than-real—not to say dressing in wedding gowns and beating each other with plastic bats wouldnít have been fun, and, considering how things turned out, a little easier on my body—we found Michael Knox, a Toronto poet, schoolteacher, and all around tough bloke. So, early September 2006 at Florida Jackís Gym on Yonge Street, Toronto, after months of training, we fought. I lost. Nothing more to say on that front. But the good thing was, a good turnout, we put on a good show, and afterwards many beers were consumed. All in all, looking back through the haze of punch-drunk memories, it was a strangely fun time.

Photos © Mark Hesselink

Boxing Match #2:

So, Winter 2007 rolls around and things start gearing up for the US release with Soho Press. My head is still sort of ringing, months later, and Iím still awaking from nightmares wherein a giant red-leather fist is rocketing at my face so Iím not going to overtly self-promote the idea of another boxing match to my publicist, Sarah Reidy. But that last match made a splash. It was, in a lot of ways, fun, and I do love the training and getting my body into shape. So when she spoke with Stephen and Penguin and settled on the idea, then she went out and got Jonathan Ames, the U.S. novelist and all-around literary stuntman, to agree to fight, well, I said yes. So, back into the meatgrinder: more training, more sparring, more roadwork, more carbohydrate deprivation. In late July of 2007, Jonathan and I tilted at Gleasonís Gym in Brooklyn, NY. No judges, but still, Iíd give him the nod. He was 43; I was 32, taller, had most advantages, so for him to win . . . well, most people would consider it an upset, so I take my hat off to him. Again, it was a nerve-wracking experience for both of us—first thing we said to each other in the ring was, "Thank GOD thatís over!"—but a good time upon reflection.

Photos © Ailen Lujo