Chapter 3 Summary

The owner of the gym, Donatelli, surveys Alfred’s potential. He is five foot seven and weighs one hundred and twenty-four and a half pounds; he studies the boy’s hands and says Alfred will grow more. Donatelli instructs Alfred to sit one folding chair against the wall. Donatelli sits in the other.

Donatelli asks who sent him here and if he is frightened; a man must learn to control his fear and “make it work for him.” Alfred came here on his own and is clearly frightened; he has never boxed, but Donatelli notices that Alfred has done some fighting in the street.

Donatelli turns the lights on over the boxing ring and tells Alfred there is no place there for a fighter to hide. The boxing ring is just two men; each man wants to hit the other more times and harder than he gets hit. Unlike street fighting, boxing has rules and a referee to ensure that the rules are followed.

Many young boys come here wanting to get in the ring and hit people, but here a boy has to earn his opportunity by working hard. Most of the boys soon leave. Donatelli points to a heavy gray bag hanging from the ceiling and tells Alfred to go hit it, but not too hard. Alfred walks over and punches the bag with his left fist; a sharp pain runs up his arm to his shoulder and his knuckles burn but the bag barely moves.

Next Donatelli points to a small brown bag hanging in another corner of the room; he calls it the “peanut bag” and tells Alfred to “hit it a few times.” Alfred punches it with his right hand but misses it with his left. Donatelli explains that the heavy bag is used to teach power and build arm and shoulder muscle; the peanut bag teaches speed and timing. Before Alfred can step into the ring, he must be able to punch the heavy bag all day and “make the peanut bag sound like a machine gun.”

Alfred says he can try, and Donatelli assures him it is something nearly any kid can learn to do, but the bags...

(The entire section is 502 words.)