This book explores some of the lives and times of the good, the bad and the ugly from the days of the bare-knuckle outlaws known as the `mountain fighters' who climbed the mountains of the south Wales valleys before dawn to duke it out with bare fists safely out of reach of the law. Some learned their trade swapping fists on the mountains, while others pulled on the gloves and tried their luck on the booths, where the ability to stand against 'all comers' for three rounds might earn them a pound.
The early history of pugilism in South Wales is chronicled within this book, which includes many profiles of some of the forgotten early fistic champions of the Welsh prize ring, including:
Shoni Engineer - a Treorchy shoesmith & bare fist fighter who would achieve almost legendary status throughout the coalfields of south Wales for his fighting prowess.
Dai 'St. John' - the Welsh Heavyweight title claimant known as the `Resolven Giant' who became a national hero due to his bravery in the South African war.
William Samuels - the longtime Heavyweight Champion of Wales, Swansea's cigar chomping premier fairground boxing booth owner, who once faced the great John L. Sullivan, the Heavyweight bare knuckle champion of the world, as well as a cage full of lions !
Robert Dunbar - a.k.a 'Sam Lane' a.k.a 'Young' Lane, Newport's battle hardened one-eyed gladiator of the old Welsh prize-ring, one of South Wales' toughest old time outlaw 'knucklers'.
Patsy Perkins - the Cardiff boy who became the Lightweight Champion of Wales and who lost everything after one fateful night in 1894 at the Aberdare slaughterhouse.
Redmond Coleman - the terrible 'Ironman' of Merthyr, whose street fighting skills made him a figure of fear throughout old Merthyr town.
Morgan Crowther - the Newport fighter whose regular brushes with the law earned him a mention in the House of Commons, and paved the way to taking the Featherweight Championship of England.
John O'Brien - the great Cardiff middleweight who could have fought for the championship of the world, if not for sickness and his fateful meeting with the 'Coffee Cooler'.
Daniel Thomas - a.k.a Dan 'Pontypridd' - the first sturdy lightweight champion of Pontypridd, the prizefighter who turned to God and burned his golden belt.
Sam & Ivor Thomas - Sam & Ivor 'Butcher', the sons of a Treorchy butcher who became known throughout south Wales for their fighting skills, Sam on the mountains with the knuckles, and Ivor on the booths with the gloves.
Other notable fighting men of the time such as Bob Wiltshire, Tom James, George 'Punch' Jones, Cardiff's notorious scoundrel Pete 'Dublin Tom' Burns and Swansea's tragic ring-hero Dick Ambrose also have their stories told.