“Winner Take All” is an action-packed tale of adventure, deception, and the quest for quick wealth that features Steve Costigan and his sidekick, Bill O’Brien. In Singapore, after being swindled out of their money, they encounter Joan Wells, a woman in distress, whom they rescue from an attacker. Grateful, Joan introduces them to a supposed investment opportunity involving the Korean Copper Company, promising immense returns. Eager for wealth, Steve decides to participate in a brutal fight to raise the necessary funds.

The story was accepted around April 1930 by Fight Stories and published in volume 3 number 2, July 1930. Featuring Steve Costigan. Howard got $80 for the story. The story was again published in Fight Stories volume 6 number 2 Winter 1939-1940 under the name Mark Adam.

Through “Winner Take All,” Robert E. Howard delivers a vivid story of high hopes and harsh realities, driven by the allure of easy money and the bitter taste of deception.


After winning the brutal match and acquiring $36.50, Steve and Bill rush to invest in the Korean Copper Company, as advised by Joan. However, following a dangerous encounter with thugs and navigating the treacherous streets of Singapore, they finally hand their hard-earned money to Joan, who disappears into the night and returns with an envelope supposedly containing their shares. In the end, they discover it’s all been a scam, and the document inside the envelope mocks their gullibility, leaving them with nothing but a costly lesson on trust and greed.


  • Steve Costigan: The main character, a sailor on the merchant ship Sea Girl, known for his fighting prowess. Eager for wealth, he fights in a brutal match to invest in a fraudulent scheme.
  • Bill O’Brien: Steve’s sidekick, who accompanies him through their adventures in Singapore and supports him in the fight.
  • Joan Wells: A deceptive woman who tricks Steve and Bill into investing in a non-existent company, showcasing her manipulation skills.
  • Mike: Steve’s loyal white bulldog, left with Jerry Rourke due to financial constraints.
  • Jerry Rourke: The owner of the American Bar, where Mike is temporarily left for safekeeping.
  • Panther Cortez: Steve’s opponent in the fight, a dangerous and skilled fighter known for his ruthless tactics.
  • Heinie Steinman: The promoter of the Grand International Fight Arena, where Steve participates in the brutal match to raise investment money.
  • No Sen Tong: A fictional, rich, and secret organization Joan claims is involved in manipulating the stock of the Korean Copper Company.
  • Sea Girl: The merchant ship on which Steve Costigan and his sidekick, Bill O’Brien, serve. The Sea Girl is a significant part of their identities as sailors, providing the backdrop for their adventures and escapades in ports around the world, including the vibrant and treacherous docks of Singapore where this story unfolds.

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