A Piece of Steak

A Piece of Steak

“It was the iron law of the game. One man might have a hundred hard fights in him, another man only twenty; each, according to the make of him and the quality of his fibre, had a definite number, and, when he had fought them, he was done.”

The story deals with Tom King, a boxer who is at the very end of his career. Once a great star who spent money freely and generously on himself and others, he is now so poor that the local merchants will not even loan him enough money for a piece of steak. Before his fight against a rising star, Sandel, he eats only bread and gravy and must send his wife and children to bed without food.

The majority of the story details his boxing match with Sandel, who, as a much younger man, has far better stamina and recuperative abilities than King. Though King is much more experienced and tactically advanced than Sandel, King loses the fight. He knows that had he been able to eat a steak before the fight, the outcome would have been different. Because he has already taken out credit on the loser’s share of the purse, he leaves the fight penniless and in despair. The story ends with King crying on his two-mile walk home, as he cannot afford a cab ride. Wikipedia


  • Adapted from the story A Piece of Steak, by Jack London
  • Performed by David Kirkwood
  • This work is published under a CC-BY 4.0 license. You are free to share this recording. Credit should be attributed to verkaro.org
  • Presented in association with: The Public Domain Foundry with special thanks to our volunteers.
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About Warren Smith
Warren enjoys, reading, writing, recording audio, working with public domain resources, and generally having a good day.