“Warrior in the Ring: The Life of Marvin Camel, Native American World Champion Boxer”
By Brian D’Ambrosio
In this elegantly written biography, you have the chance to relive the personal and professional struggles and triumphs of one of Montana’s most successful yet elusive athletes, Marvin Camel, the first cruiserweight boxing champion.
Following a brief history of the area and of the Flathead Indian Reservation where a young Camel spent his childhood, you begin the story by meeting his parents: Alice, a welder in the U.S. Navy shipyards from the Pend d’Oreille tribe, and Henry, an African American Navy petty officer and club boxer.
The reader travels quickly with them to the time when Camel enters their family, which will eventually include 14 children. Camel grew up swiftly. His father was strict, and Marvin worked hard to please him through manual labor and an intense study of boxing. His family also never escaped the cycle of poverty during his childhood.
After the tragic death of one of Camel's older brothers, his father and mother divorced, nearly ending young Camel's boxing career.
But the monotony of manual labor jobs brought him back to his training and love of boxing. As a young man in the mid-'60s to early '70s, Camel fought his way to many local and statewide championship titles throughout Montana.
He turned pro, and in 1980, when boxing launched its cruiserweight division (176 to 190 pounds), Camel fought his way to being the first cruiserweight champ with the World Boxing Council, and again in 1984 with the International Boxing Federation.
Camel's boxing style was always strategic. None of his matches had the feel of a barroom brawl. They were well thought out, even stylized, to fit Camel and his left-handed style of boxing. His life, while filled with incredible professional feats, also encompassed incredible sacrifice in order for him to be a two-time world champion.
Today Camel lives a simple, quiet life with little recognition by the world at large for his great skill in the ring. But perhaps having his story told will change all that.
"Warrior in the Ring" is a finalist in the nonfiction category at the 2016 High Plains Book Awards.