Warrior in the Ring

Format: Hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN-13: 978-1-60639-079-5
Author: Brian D'Ambrosio
Pages: 248

$29.95

Warrior in the Ring

Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60639-077-1
Author: Brian D'Ambrosio
Pages: 248

$15.95

Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer

Brian D'Ambrosio

In the Golden Age of boxing, Marvin Camel—a mixed blood from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana—defied all obstacles of race, poverty, and geographical isolation to become the first Native American to win a world boxing title.

Complex and wildly charismatic, Camel combined tremendous physical talent with staggering self-discipline—forged by the sting of his father’s belt—to claw his way to the top, twice winning world titles in the newly minted cruiserweight division and fighting on the same cards as boxing icons Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Bob Foster.

Camel’s journey was an amazing example of gritty determination: punishing runs on Montana’s back roads, relentless training in make-shift gyms, sleeping in beat-up cars before fights in glittering Las Vegas, and even training and fighting for a world championship in a foreign country, alone.

Always, Camel willingly represented his state and his people, proudly wearing his eagle-feather headdress into the ring. Yet with success came sacrifice and pain, both physical and personal, but in life as in the boxing ring, Camel emerged bloody but unbowed.

With irresistible detail gleaned from years of frank interviews with Camel, his family and friends, his former opponents, and seasoned boxing insiders, Brian D’Ambrosio’s gripping biography captures the drama, danger, beauty, and ugliness of boxing, of Indian life on reservations, and especially, of the life of a stereotype-shattering man who inspired his people and boxing fans everywhere with his courage, achievements, and great warrior heart.

Finalist, High Plains Book Award

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National Press Release

From an Indian reservation to world champion

Marvin Camel, a mixed blood from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, defied all obstacles of race, poverty, and geographical isolation to become the first Native American to win a world boxing title. His remarkable life is vividly presented in a new book, “Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer,” by Brian D’Ambrosio.

Complex and wildly charismatic, Camel combined tremendous physical talent with staggering self-discipline—forged by the sting of his father’s belt—to claw his way to the top, twice winning world titles in the cruiserweight division and fighting on the same cards as boxing icons Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Bob Foster during boxing’s last Golden Age.

Camel’s journey was an amazing example of gritty determination, and always, Camel willingly represented his state and his people, proudly wearing his eagle headdress into the ring.

With irresistible detail gleaned from years of frank interviews with Camel, his family and friends, his former opponents, and seasoned boxing insiders, Brian D’Ambrosio’s gripping biography captures the drama, danger, beauty, and ugliness of boxing, of Indian life on reservations, and especially, of the life of a stereotype-shattering man who inspired his people and boxing fans everywhere with his courage, achievements, and great warrior heart.

“Warrior in the Ring” is available in hardcover ($29.95) and paperback ($15.95) at bookstores and from RiverbendPublishing.com.

Expanded Montana Press Release

Reared in a family of 14 children in a three-room house, Marvin Camel first boxed because he had to: his father pushed him into the ring when he was 12. Later, he boxed because it loved it: inside the ring was the only place Camel felt in control of his life and his destiny.

Born to an African-American father and a Salish Indian mother, Camel’s path to two world championships ran through a gauntlet of cultural and physical barriers. He survived with his lightning-fast fists and his fierce inner fire to achieve, to succeed, to be somebody. He wanted to set an example for all Native Americans, and ultimately, he did.

Camel’s story is the American Dream writ large in blood and pain. From punishing runs on Montana’s back roads to relentless training in make-shift gyms, Camel honed his body to wicked perfection. From having to sleep in beat-up cars before crucial fights in Las Vegas to training and fighting—alone—for a world championship in a foreign country, his iron will was unwavering.

Camel won the first cruiserweight championship in the world in 1979, gaining the World Boxing Council’s new title, and he won a world title again in 1983 from the International Boxing Federation. When he fought, he wore traditional cultural attire into the ring—a flowing eagle-feather headdress and deerskin vest—honoring his people.

Yet with success came sacrifice and pain, both physical and personal, including a widening rift between Camel, his family, his tribe, and his home state. But in his life as in the boxing ring, Camel emerged bloody but unbowed.

From the mountains of Montana to the Adriatic shores of Croatia, Brian D’Ambrosio’s vivid account of Camel’s rise and fall is a fascinating revelation of a boxer and his sport, including a cast of colorful characters even a novelist would find hard to conjure up. Along the way, D’Ambrosio casts new light on a sport that pushes the parameters of civilization and brilliantly examines Camel’s life in the context of race, economics, and cultural isolation. The result is an utterly compelling biography as unique and powerful as the boxer himself.


Montana Press Release

Splendid biography profiles Marvin Camel, Montana’s world boxing champion

Marvin Camel, a mixed blood from Ronan on the Flathead Indian Reservation, defied all obstacles of race, poverty, and geographical isolation to become the first Native American to win a world boxing title. His remarkable life is vividly presented in a new book, “Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer,” by Helena author Brian D’Ambrosio.

Complex and wildly charismatic, Camel combined tremendous physical talent with staggering self-discipline—forged by the sting of his father’s belt—to claw his way to the top, twice winning world titles in the cruiserweight division and fighting on the same cards as boxing icons Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Bob Foster during boxing’s last Golden Age. Many of his fights were in Missoula, Butte, and Billings.

Camel’s journey was an amazing example of gritty determination. He won state and regional amateur titles, barely missed a Golden Gloves national title and a spot in the 1972 Olympics, and turned professional when he was 20. As a pro, Camel willingly represented his state and his people, proudly wearing his eagle headdress into the ring.
With irresistible detail gleaned from years of frank interviews with Camel, his family and friends, his former opponents, and seasoned boxing insiders, Brian D’Ambrosio’s gripping biography captures the drama, danger, beauty, and ugliness of boxing, of Indian life on reservations, and especially, of the life of a stereotype-shattering man who inspired his people and boxing fans everywhere with his courage, achievements, and great warrior heart.

"Warrior in the Ring" is available in hardcover ($29.95) and paperback ($15.95) at bookstores and from RiverbendPublishing.com.


Expanded Montana Press Release

Reared in a family of 14 children in a three-room house, Marvin Camel first boxed because he had to: his father pushed him into the ring when he was 12. Later, he boxed because it loved it: inside the ring was the only place Camel felt in control of his life and his destiny.

Born to an African-American father and a Salish Indian mother, Camel’s path to two world championships ran through a gauntlet of cultural and physical barriers. He survived with his lightning-fast fists and his fierce inner fire to achieve, to succeed, to be somebody. He wanted to set an example for all Native Americans, and ultimately, he did.

Camel’s story is the American Dream writ large in blood and pain. From punishing runs on Montana’s back roads to relentless training in make-shift gyms, Camel honed his body to wicked perfection. From having to sleep in beat-up cars before crucial fights in Las Vegas to training and fighting—alone—for a world championship in a foreign country, his iron will was unwavering.

Camel won the first cruiserweight championship in the world in 1979, gaining the World Boxing Council’s new title, and he won a world title again in 1983 from the International Boxing Federation. When he fought, he wore traditional cultural attire into the ring—a flowing eagle-feather headdress and deerskin vest—honoring his people.

Yet with success came sacrifice and pain, both physical and personal, including a widening rift between Camel, his family, his tribe, and his home state. But in his life as in the boxing ring, Camel emerged bloody but unbowed.

From the mountains of Montana to the Adriatic shores of Croatia, Brian D’Ambrosio’s vivid account of Camel’s rise and fall is a fascinating revelation of a boxer and his sport, including a cast of colorful characters even a novelist would find hard to conjure up. Along the way, D’Ambrosio casts new light on a sport that pushes the parameters of civilization and brilliantly examines Camel’s life in the context of race, economics, and cultural isolation. The result is an utterly compelling biography as unique and powerful as the boxer himself.


Reviews

Monana Book Review: Bookshelf Gems - Montana Magazine

Marvin Camel: A Study in Determination - Boxing Prospects, March 2016

Author breathes life into story of Native American pioneer - KTVQ

Biography Chronicles First Native American World Champion Boxer, A Montanan - Montana Public Radio

The Amazing Story of World Champion Native Boxer Marvel Camel - Indian Country

New biography helps Marvin Camel fight time, obscurity - Missoulian

Warrior in the Ring: Boxing with Marvin Camel - Great Falls Tribune

Resurrecting the Legend of Marvin Camel - Flathead Beacon

About the Author

Brian D’Ambrosio is a Helena, Montana, writer, instructor, and media consultant. D’Ambrosio’s recent articles have been published in local, regional, and national publications, including Cowboys and Indians, Wisconsin Trails, Bark Magazine, Montana Magazine, and Backpacker Magazine. His most recent e­book chronicled the trial and conviction of exonerated murderer Ryan Ferguson, 101 Reasons Why Ryan Ferguson Should Be Released. D’Ambrosio is a frequent contributor to, among other internet sites, “The Huffington Post,” where he profiles an eclectic assortment of people. He is currently completing a first volume of in-depth profiles of ex-entertainment wrestlers, football players, and boxers called Life in the Trenches. He may be reached at dambrosiobrian@hotmail.com.

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