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The Champ & The Chump

James McNicholas

3 Reviews

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The first book from award-winning comedian James McNicholas, based on his critically acclaimed Edinburgh show The Boxer

A heart-warming, hilarious true story about fighting and family, based on the acclaimed stage show. For fans of books by Dave Gorman, James Acaster and Danny Wallace, along with boxing tales from the likes of Tyson Fury and Ricky Hatton.

The Champ
Terry Downes - known as 'The Paddington Express' - was a world champion boxer, US Marine, gangsters' favourite and latter-day film star and businessman.

The Chump
James McNicholas's PE teacher once told him he was so unfit he'd be dead by the time he was 23. James has spent his life pursuing a career in acting and comedy. In reality, that has meant spells working as a painter-decorator and river cruise salesperson.

After Terry's death, James finds himself in reflective mood, comparing how he's doing in life to how his grandad was at that age. What follows is an increasingly colourful journey that takes James from post-war Paddington to the blood-soaked canvases of Baltimore and Whitechapel, via Mayfair parties with the Krays and betting shop bust-ups, as he discovers the truth about his grandfather's extraordinary life.

Along the way he begins to dig into his own story, confronting the family addictions that blighted his early years, describing his often-hilarious efforts to make it in the world of showbiz, and attempts to recreate Terry's trials by enlisting in a brutal army boot camp and boxing gym. When James is diagnosed with a frightening and mysterious neurological condition, the two stories of the fighter and the writer suddenly collide, and what began as a nostalgic journey takes on a far more important significance.

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Praise for The Champ & The Chump

  • A heavyweight hour of stand-up and storytelling ... It's heart-in-mouth stuff. I was tempted to run on stage and hold aloft McNicholas's gloved fist. His show is a knockout.. - The Guardian

  • His footwork as a storyteller is as impressive as his reach as a joke-teller - The Times

  • Compelling and poignant. - The Scotsman

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