After a hellish Sunday at Coney Island with Major and the gang, Alfred decides to quit boxing. When he visits the gym to clean out his locker, he finds Mr. Donatelli alone. In attempting to apologize to his mentor, Alfred finds that he does not really want to quit. He needs to find out what he could become if he really tries. He reaches a sort of epiphany, a moment of clarity and self-awareness. He wants to become a contender . Alfred resumes training with renewed enthusiasm. Soon, he is allowed to spar, and in October he has his first amateur fight at a union hall on Long Island. Alfred makes rookie mistakes but wins. Especially impressive that night is an older welterweight named Elston Hubbard. In November, Alfred knocks out his second opponent but is terribly upset because he thinks he has nearly killed the other fighter. His third fight, in December, is a draw, because Alfred is reluctant to throw a punch. Mr.
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