Saturday, December 13, 2014





Christmas, 1955 … Hollywood Legion Stadium …

Light heavy-weight champ, Jimmy Doherty is boxing Carlo ‘Toro’ Bassani for the Christmas benefit, even though Jimmy is sure Toro is under the thumb of gangster, Mickey Cohen. He doesn't know if Toro will deck him with a ‘Sunday punch’ in the first round or flop in the third. Even though Jimmy feels sorry for the pug who has cast his lot with the devil, he isn’t sure if he should give this boxer an early Christmas gift of his self-respect, by forcing him to fight like a man, or let Toro kiss the canvas.

Jimmy's bride, Lindy Doherty, is front row center where she always is when he fights. Not many dames would stay in their man's corner consistently cheering him on. She's taking in the action and praying her husband won't get his head handed to him on a Christmas platter. While waiting to watch Jimmy duke it out in the center ring, she and her six month old son, Patrick, along with her two Precious Roses, meet the brightest star in the Hollywood Christmas sky.

Can Jimmy retain his light heavy-weight title and keep a fellow boxer from accidently ‘falling’ off the San Pedro Pier? And what is Lindy’s special Christmas gift for Jimmy?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014



Blood to the Bone is the second Fight Card Sherlock Holmes tale to be penned by award winning Sherlockian author Andrew Salmon. His first Fight Card Sherlock Holmes novel, Work Capitol, is also available on as a Kindle e-book and in paperback…

The first novel in the Fight Card Sherlock Holmes series, Work Capitol, presented a number of daunting challenges. Not only did I have to learn how Victorian fighters plied their trade, but also how Sherlock Holmes would put his inimitable spin on the science of pugilism. Added to that was the responsibility of discerning how Watson would describe a fight in the language of the time.

Research and a lot of pondering led me to the solutions. Hearing from readers since the book's release, I was pleased to see these solutions were met with positive reactions. The book even snagged an award nomination along the way. Holmes fans enjoyed the book, which was a tremendous relief to me and the Fight Card team.

Now, all I had to do was pull it off again! More than that, actually, as the second book could not and should not be just more of the same. No matter how much readers liked Work Capitol, the new one had to be different. We writers don't like to repeat ourselves.

Well, with the fight stuff all worked out and a first attempt at determining how Watson would narrate a boxing match successfully under my belt, I felt I was slightly ahead of the game. Also, in my research for the first book, I had collected a vast treasure trove of information, trivia, dates, events, names, places, etc.

One of those pieces was supposed to be an important clue for Holmes to discover in Work Capitol – except, when all was said and done, I'd forgotten to use it! So, I had that in my back pocket for the second book as well. Hey, it was a good clue – far too important to throw away.

Next came a read through of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's bare knuckle boxing novel, Rodney Stone, to set the tone. The novel provided me with an opportunity to pay homage to Doyle – we must never forget, it is his sandbox modern day Holmes scribblers play in after all.

My tip of the deerstalker takes the form of the pub Holmes, Watson, and my female fighter visit as the Waggon and Horses is visited by Doyle's characters in his book. What's funny, when you think about it, is that, really, two sets of his characters visit the pub a century apart in real time. Rodney Stone also gave me the title for my book, Blood to the Bone, from a phrase used to describe a true blue fighter common at the time.

With all of the above in my corner, I felt pretty good about the next book. And the research sealed the deal. We historical fiction writers are like fishermen. We cast our nets upon history in the hope of finding something interesting, something different, unsung, something today's readers may or may not know about, but we think they'd get a kick out of reading about.

My nets landed smack dab in the middle of the forgotten Victorian female pugilists of the 1800s. As the first book had not featured a female lead, this find immediately struck me as something different yet still staying well within the world of bare knuckle boxing. Endless research showed me the female fight game was a great element, which simply couldn't be ignored.

But how the heck was Holmes going to fight in the women's ring? Stumbling upon the tag-team aspect of women's boxing saved the day. Discovering that couples used to face off against other couples with the ability to tag up like wrestlers and switch partners saved my bacon. Holmes and my female lead could now step up to the scratch line together. Phew!

But what brought them together? Wait a minute! Tag-team couples! What if a husband in one of these tag-teams suddenly disappeared and Holmes and Watson were asked to investigate? Yeah, that would work. Okay, I had Victorian circuses, the forgotten boxing booths of the time, the somewhat obscure history of female bare knuckle boxing, a couple of other little known chapters of history (too spoilerish to talk about here) and a lunar eclipse thrown in for good measure. We were off to the races.

Then tragedy struck.

I had my ducks in a row, the opening scenes playing out in my mind and on my computer screen as I typed away, when my wife's best friend, Linda Gavin, passed away suddenly in July. Best friend? They had been as close as sisters these last 18 years. My wife's grief took precedence and the tale was set aside as we struggled through the shock of it. There was the celebration of life memorial to attend as well and this was a moving, unforgettable event – one we should all hope for when our time comes.

It was during this sad time I got the idea to model the female fighter in my Holmes tale after Linda. No small tribute, as Linda was a strong believer in gender equality and would have adored the character of Eby Stokes but, also, her husband, Doug, was a life-long Sherlock Holmes fan.

I had named a character after Doug in two previous Holmes tales a different publisher had brought out in recent years much to Doug's delight. As one always feel helpless when tragedy strikes another, here was something I could do for Doug, and he was moved when I told him of my plans at the memorial. I told him I would be dedicating the book to Linda as well as changing the name of my female fighter to Eby Stokes – Eby being Linda's maiden name.

I took things a step further by asking cover artist Mike Fyles if he would be willing to use Linda's likeness for his depiction of Eby Stokes. Mike's a great guy and readily agreed. I sent him off a pair of shots of Linda in her youth (boxing is a young man's and young woman's game) and he came back with the incredible cover you see on the book.

Things got a little spooky with the cover.

Take a look at his rendition of Eby Stokes. She does indeed resemble Linda, but what he did not know was that she always posed for photos with her hair down in front of her left shoulder. Always – except in the shots I sent Mike, as these had been shots of her in her youth.

I had made no mention of it to Mike, wanting him to be free to go where his considerable talent took him. Yet there is Eby Stokes with her hair hanging down in front of her left shoulder! Coincidence? Something more? We can each come up with our own answers. It sent chills down my spine, that's all I have to say about it.

As I gradually got back to writing the tale, the book took on more personal importance to me. Holmes tales deal with logic, deduction and adventure, not overburdened by emotion. This being my eighth Holmes tale, I was well versed in this. But now the book was to be my tribute to our departed friend. I had to make it a fitting tribute and I had to create an Eby Stokes to make Linda proud.

Have I succeeded? That's up to you, dear readers. I gave it everything I had, but the proof is in the reading, and I hope the story entertains and keeps you guessing.

It was a bitter-sweet experience writing Blood to the Bone. Thanks for getting this far with me and I hope you enjoy the book.


Blood to the Bone is the second Fight Card Sherlock Holmes tale to be penned by award winning Sherlockian author Andrew Salmon. His first Fight Card Sherlock Holmes novel, Work Capitol, is also available on as a Kindle e-book and in paperback…
The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in Belfast, New York held an induction ceremony on July 12th, 2014, where the great, unsung female boxing greats of the Victorian age took their place amongst the legendary male fighters of yesteryear as part of the rich history of the sport.
Elizabeth Wilkinson (Stokes): Winner of first ever recorded female bare knuckle fight in 1722.
Anna Lewis: Staged first Women's Championships, brought publicity to the sport in the 1880s. 
Hattie Stewart: First Female Bare Knuckle World Champion, 1884.
Hattie Leslie: First American Championess, 1888.
Alice Leary: A six-foot slugger, athlete, was 52-0 w/24 knockouts before losing to Hattie Leslie.
Hessie Donahue: Knocked out John L. Sullivan in 1892.
These great fighters, along with a selection of modern day women pugilists, join the ranks of past inductees, including John L. Sullivan, Jem Mace, James Figg, Jack Dempsey and dozens of others.



Blood to the Bone is the second Fight Card Sherlock Holmes tale to be penned by award winning Sherlockian author Andrew Salmon. His first Fight Card Sherlock Holmes novel, Work Capitol, is also available on as a Kindle e-book and in paperback...

Elizabeth Stokes, Anna Lewis, Hattie Stewart, Alice Leary, Hattie Leslie, Hessie Donahue, Cecil Richards, Dolly Adams, Polly Burns – if these names are unfamiliar to you, then keep reading.

The women listed above were just a few of the many great women pugilists of the Victorian age. Not much is known about these accomplished fighters because the press at the time rarely covered their matches unless to either ridicule them or call for their abolishment. Society, for the most part, looked down on female fighters in that bygone age (some would maintain people still do) and, as a result, the matches were rarely advertised. It is only recently that their rich history is gradually being stitched together. The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame just inducted its first batch of female fighters this past July.

Women fighters have been around since ancient times, but for the sake of this overview we'll limit our focus to the dawn of female prize fighting. The Hall of Fame's coordinator, Scott Burt, tells us it all began with Elizabeth Stokes. As the winner of the first ever recorded female bare knuckle boxing fight in 1722, Stokes fought Hannah Hyfield for a prize of three guineas. The women fought with a half a crown in one fist. The first to drop the money, lost the fight. This set a precedent for future fights. This was a smart addition to the women's Fancy, as the closed fist cut down on scratching and gouging.

Much like its male counterpart, women's bare knuckle boxing began with very different rules. The womanly art allowed hair pulling, kicking, kneeing, scratching and gouging to all parts of the body. Wrestling throws were also legal, making the sport more a primitive form of mixed martial arts than simply boxing. As such, it displayed a marked similarity to the Boxe Francaise or Savate fighting, which combined boxing with a variety of kicks using both heel and toe.

The fights were brutal and savage affairs. As a result, the women were often severely injured, and some died in the ring. Usually trained by men, either their husbands or fellow pugilists, the women fought men as well as each other, sometimes winning despite the tremendous risks. There were exceptions, such as the time Hessie Donahue knocked out John L. Sullivan during an exhibition bout when Sullivan angered her by accidently hitting her too hard.

The women often boxed bare chested. This served two functions. The first served the promoters with the obvious salacious draw of sweaty, topless women punching away at each other, but there was a sound reason for this as well. Without antibiotics of any kind, the risk of infection ran high. Dirty fabric pressed into open cuts incurred during a fight could mean death for a fighter. And injuries did not just result from a fist or boot heel. There was the very real risk of the various wires found in female clothing of the time puncturing the skin as well.

Women's bare knuckle boxing became popular on both sides of the Atlantic as the eighteenth century drew to a close despite being considered indecent and unladylike by many. Women's boxing classes were held in gymnasiums everywhere, but catered mostly to the upper class.

As the sport was open to all comers and substantial prizes were to be had. This prize money far exceeded what the lower or middle class women could earn at other jobs. As a result, despite the risk, the temptation to toe the line was, for many, the only avenue out of poverty. For others, it was an opportunity to escape the confines society placed on them, to be strong, independent and capable.

By the 1880s, women's boxing flourished in dance halls and at fairgrounds where women put on boxing displays and/or sparring with fair goers and engaged in tag–team fights where male and female teams (often husband and wife) squared off against each other with a tag to switch partners. As the 19th century drew to a close, the sport, still frowned upon by the press, gained more respectability. Bare knuckles eventually gave way to gloves as the Queensberry Rules were put in place.

The sport continued into the 20th century and was even an exhibition sport at the St. Louis World's Fair/Olympics in 1904. It was also considered an excellent way for a young lady to stay healthy and safe well into the 1950s, though by then, the sport had lost most of its ferocity. By the 1970s, women boxers began to fight in greater earnest to secure the rights and opportunities their male counterparts enjoyed.

If you want to delve deeper into the world of female bare knuckle boxing, check out the Hall's website above or pop over to this Russian site, Female Single Combat Club, which offers both English and Russian versions of its pages. Here they explore the history in depth and I'm indebted to them for the research materials I found at the site.