Synopsis Continued... (page2)
AN OVERVIEW OF ACT 1
'Contender' tells the story of the Boxing legend Tommy Farr. Tommy lost his mother as a young child. His father had shown little interest in his children until that moment, only giving his undivided attention when it came to matters of discipline and punishment. The strain of being a single parent led to a seizure and Tommy's father remain paralysed until he died. As Tommy said, after his mother died, his father a man of steel, rusted in front of their eyes. Tommy's father always taught Tommy that he would only get out of life what he could take with his own 2 hands. It was a lesson he took to heart and never forgot. At his father's funeral he vows that what happened to Tommy's father and family will never happen to him.
Tommy and his family struggled to make ends meet and he took on the responsibilities of a man very early. His rage at the world spilled over into everyday life. He fought everywhere and his early lessons came from the pit boxing, which was popular at the time. Two holes where dug, waist deep, about a foot apart. Colliery boys stood there and fought whilst other miners bet on the outcome. With nowhere to run he learnt to duck, dive and take a punch. He also learnt that the real money was made by those who stayed outside of the fight. There was no mercy to be found here but one thing was sure Tommy would never give up and he would never cry.
When his father died Tommy became a bit of a tearaway and decided he would turn his rage into money by becoming a boxer. He wasn't very good, losing many of his early fights. No one doubted his courage but too often he wanted to fight instead of box. It was at this point in his life that he met the man who was to become his mentor. Joby Churchill had been quite a good fighter in his time. He had lost a leg in a mining accident and had since become a saddler in Tonypandy. He had trained a number of champions and that was the reason Tommy went to Joby to ask him to teach him how to box. Joby instantly took a shine to Tommy but instead of putting him in the ring he gave him books to read, saying that boxing wasn't only about fists, it was about the head and heart. Don Quixote became a favourite with Tommy seeing himself as Sancho Panza to Joby's Don Quixote.
The first part of the apprenticeship was the travelling boxing booths. Initially, Tommy is turned down because he is too small. He is offered the job of a handyman but when a knife slices through the booth tarpaulin as one big miner tries to avoid paying the entrance fee Tommy takes on the role of bouncer, knocking the much larger man out. He is immediately given the job of 'in house' pugilist. Tommy soon tires of the relentless graft and tells Joby he's now ready. Joby disagrees and after a falling out Tommy decides to walk to London to break into the fight game on his own. He is unsuccessful and one of his vivid memories is watching the great and good through a side window of the Savoy hotel. He vows that one day he will eat what they eat and live as they do. Returning to Tonypandy Tommy makes his peace with Joby. Joby tells him he has learnt an invaluable lesson and now they can start.
MUSIC - THE CONTENDER