THE DISTANCE (Adult Contemporary)


The Distance


Byron Graves


Adult Contemporary

Word Count:

90,000 words


Chase Iron’s a promising Native American boxer with a devastating uppercut and a destiny to become a champion. The entire boxing world sees Chase’s potential to turn pro, but undiagnosed depression and the pressures of the spotlight stands in his way.

After he washes out, Chase becomes a small-town celebrity on his reservation. But instead of training to get back on the circuit, he fights his demons by guzzling down cheap liquor. When his family stages an intervention, Chase hightails it to the lights of Minneapolis to live incognito.

But Minneapolis offers no solace. Chase is haunted by his dreams of going pro, and the broken promises he made to his family and tribe. He meets Colin, a Native American drummer who’s band is on the verge of superstardom. Colin shares the same struggles as Chase, but uses his pain as motivation to live his dreams. Inspired by his new friend, Chase battles to stay sober and gives boxing another shot. But after winning his first thirteen professional fights, the crushing blow of his father’s death threatens to send him back to the bottle. With his depression ever present and the nearest liquor store within reach, Chase must rise above his shortcomings to keep from ruining his chance for a million dollar payday and a shot at Mike Tyson.

Complete at 90,000 words, THE DISTANCE is a coming of age story that combines the contemporary, stark reality of THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN with the heart and guts of MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

I am Lakota and Ojibwe and am from the Red Lake Indian Reservation. In research for this story I spent twelve months training alongside a professional boxer, learning first-hand realities of the boxing world.

First 300 words:

A shadow swallows the glossy red sheen of my trembling boxing gloves. I’m clumsily cradling a picture of my dead father.  Don’t lose the light behind your eyes. That was the last thing my dad said to me before he passed away.

“Watch over me tonight, Pops.” I whisper.

My trainer Chuck puts his weathered hand on my shoulder. It’s wrinkled and faded, but durable—like a baseball mitt. Chuck gently takes the picture and sets it aside. A soft smirk is all I can manage to offer him, a silent thank you.

The sound of the crowd has crawled down the hallways, through the endless corridors of the Civic Center, pushing its way under the door. The cheering, shouting and thumps of bass create a muffled soundtrack, a prelude to the violence about to ensue. All I can think about is how little a chance I have at beating my opponent. My mind is flooded with doubt.

I’m a nobody from the Red Lake Indian reservation where no one has ever made it to the pinnacle of, well, anything.  Someone like me doesn’t belong here.

Someone from where I’m from is meant to stay there.

And now it’s too late.

A boxing ring in a sold-out arena awaits; in it will be an undefeated opponent nobody thinks I can beat, not even me. Sports journalists marvel at his blinding speed. Someone wrote that his punches could crush a tank. An article in Boxing Magazine called him a hybrid of Ali and Frazier. The same article said our fight was a joke, a stepping stone to amp up his record on his way to the championship.

Perhaps it was a brash sense of pride, or the five million dollar payday I was promised that made me foolish enough to take this fight.


Leave a reply...

Join us on Twitter! @wcnvcontest
Back to Top