REH completed the first version of “Iron Men” (draft a) in March or April 1929. That version was sent to FIGHT STORIES and apparently considered too long. Two successive drafts (drafts b & c) condensed the story. Draft c was eventually submitted to FIGHT STORIES, but the published version was heavily edited.

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“Iron Men” tells the story of Mike Brennon, a remarkably durable heavyweight boxer, whose physical resilience and fighting spirit define his boxing career. Despite a lack of finesse and boxing technique, Mike’s ability to absorb punishment and deliver devastating punches earns him fame as one of the ring’s toughest fighters. The story spans over several years, highlighting key fights that showcase his iron will and draw significant attention from boxing enthusiasts and promoters. However, Mike’s unyielding pursuit of money, driven by undisclosed personal motives, leads him to take on increasingly dangerous matches. His manager, Steve Amber, and friend, Spike Ganlon, worry about the toll these fights take on him, fearing for both his physical well-being and mental health. As Mike continues to face and sometimes defeat stronger opponents, his legend grows, yet so does the concern that his career, driven by an insatiable need for wealth and recognition, might end in tragedy.

This is a tale of physical endurance, the pursuit of fame and money, and the human cost of such pursuits. It portrays the boxing world with a critical eye, showcasing both the glory and the grim reality faced by those who enter the ring.


  • Mike Brennon: The protagonist, a heavyweight boxer known for his incredible stamina, iron body, and powerful punches. Despite his lack of technical skills and defensive capabilities, Mike’s resilience makes him a formidable opponent in the ring. His obsession with earning money through boxing, despite the physical cost, drives the narrative.
  • Steve Amber: Mike’s manager, who supports him throughout his career. Steve admires Mike’s toughness but is increasingly concerned about the brutal beatings Mike endures and his fixation on money.
  • Spike Ganlon: A middleweight boxer and friend of Mike, who provides insight into Mike’s boxing style and mentality. Spike is one of Mike’s staunchest supporters but echoes Steve’s concerns regarding Mike’s well-being.
  • Young Firpo: A boxer who fights Mike in a carnival, setting the stage for Mike’s entry into professional boxing.
  • Jack Maloney, Johnny Varella, Sailor Steve Costigan, and other boxers: Various opponents Mike faces throughout his career, each highlighting different aspects of Mike’s fighting style and resilience. These characters serve to measure Mike’s progress and the increasing risks he takes.
  • Yon Van Heeren (The Durable Dutchman): Another iron man like Mike, whose fight with Mike becomes a brutal showcase of their ability to take punishment. This fight symbolizes the peak of Mike’s career and the extreme physical toll of his boxing style.
  • Boxing fans and promoters: These characters represent the public’s fascination with Mike’s career and the commercial aspect of boxing. Their demand for more fights and tolerance for the violence Mike endures underscore the darker sides of the sport and entertainment.

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