Hiram's father forbids violence. It's against their family's beliefs. Even so, Hiram has been sneaking out to the Woodrat Club, where bareknuckle fighters compete and shady deals go down. Tired of beatings from a local bully, Hiram wants to learn how to box. He finds a willing teacher in Lightning, one of the Woodrat's finest fighters.
Hiram, a Jewish immigrant, and Lightning, a former slave, soon form an unlikely friendship. But Lightning has troubles of his own. When a man from Lightning's past appears in New York, will Hiram's new boxing skills be enough to help his friend?