The 6300-word story, although unfinished, vividly depicts the dangers of conceit and the harsh lessons learned through personal failure, set against the backdrop of the early 20th-century boxing scene.


“The Folly of Conceit” unfolds the story of a young boxer, Patrick O’Hanlon, whose life is a series of dramatic turns shaped by ambition, vanity, and the eventual realization of his follies. Born in Ireland but raised in North Carolina, Patrick grows up amidst a community of Irish and Scottish immigrants, where his penchant for fighting and physical strength become evident. Disinterested in farm work and influenced by his Danish seafaring ancestors, Patrick ventures into the sea at fifteen, only to find his true calling in boxing at eighteen, thanks to a passenger, Mr. Harmer, he meets aboard.

Quick to rise in the boxing world, Patrick’s success is meteoric, but it’s also the breeding ground for his conceit. Despite Mr. Harmer’s guidance, Patrick’s vanity makes him susceptible to flattery and bad influence, notably from a man named “Slick” Baden. A turning point comes when Patrick, enticed by Joan Cromwell, a wealthy socialite, neglects his rigorous training regimen for the company of Joan, leading to indulgence and deviation from his disciplined life.

The narrative peaks when Patrick, drunk and misled by Joan, wakes up in disarray, jeopardizing his upcoming fight against Jack Penhryn, a formidable opponent. His condition deteriorates as he resorts to extreme measures to make weight, undermining his physical fitness and mental acuity. Despite a promising start to the fight, Patrick’s lack of conditioning and overconfidence unravel, marking his downfall.


  • Patrick O’Hanlon: The protagonist, a young, promising boxer whose rise is marred by vanity and conceit, leading to a critical lapse in judgment before a major fight.
  • Mr. Harmer: Patrick’s manager, who recognizes Patrick’s potential but struggles to steer him away from the pitfalls of success and vanity.
  • “Slick” Baden: A dubious character who flatters Patrick, encouraging him to indulge in nightlife and ultimately contributing to his downfall.
  • Joan Cromwell: A wealthy socialite who becomes infatuated with Patrick, her interest and influence leading him to neglect his training and indulge in alcohol.
  • Jack Penhryn: Known as the Cornish Nonpareil, he is Patrick’s opponent in the pivotal fight, representing the formidable challenge that Patrick faces unprepared.
  • The promoter: A character concerned with the financial and promotional aspects of the fight, insistent that Patrick must fight regardless of his condition.

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