PROFI am going retro this week with a classic: The Professional by W. C. Heinz. First released more than 50 years ago, The Professional holds up as a classic novel of the prizefighting genre. However, unlike many stories about boxing, Mr. Heinz serves up his personal knowledge of the sport and presents his story it in a way that not only captures an era and a real feel for the sport, but introduces memorable characters in his boxer, Eddie Brown, and his trainer, Doc Carroll.

About The Professional by W. C. Heinz: “Originally published in 1958, The Professional is the story of boxer Eddie Brown’s quest for the middleweight championship of the world. But it is so much more. W. C. Heinz not only serves up a realistic depiction of the circus-like atmosphere around boxing with its assorted hangers-on, crooked promoters, and jaded journalists, but he gives us two memorable characters in Eddie Brown and in Brown’s crusty trainer, Doc Carroll. They are at the heart of this poignant story as they bond together with their eye on the only prize that matters—the middleweight championship. The Professional is W. C. Heinz at the top of his game—the writer who covered the fights better than anyone else of his era, whose lean sentences, rough-and-ready dialogue, dry wit, and you-are-there style helped lay the foundation for the New Journalism of Jimmy Breslin, Gay Talese, and Tom Wolfe. And all the trademark qualities of W. C. Heinz are on ample display in this novel that Pete Hamill described as ‘one of the five best sports novels ever written.’”

The Professional is more than a novel about boxing, it is a time capsule of the middle of the last century and a masterpiece of American sports fiction – heck, of all fiction. It is no wonder this book has a cult following and is still in print after five decades – it is really good.

The Professional by W. C. Heinz can be found at Amazon and other fine book retailers.