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by Robert Lipsyte  |  Grades: 8-12  |  Lexile Level: 690

The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Teacher Guide, Lesson Plans, Novel UnitAbout The Contender by Robert Lipsyte

The breakthrough modern sports novel The Contender shows readers the true meaning of being a hero.

This acclaimed novel by celebrated sportswriter Robert Lipsyte, the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in YA fiction, is the story of a young boxer in Harlem who overcomes hardships and finds hope in the ring on his path to becoming a contender.

A Harlem high school dropout escapes from a gang of punks into a boxing gym, where he learns that being a contender is hard and often discouraging work, but that you don't know anything until you try.

Alfred Brooks is scared. He's a high-school dropout, and his grocery store job is leading nowhere. His best friend is sinking further and further into drug addiction. Some street kids are after him for something he didn't even do.

So Alfred begins going to Donatelli's Gym, a boxing club in Harlem that has trained champions. There he learns it's the effort, not the win, that makes the boxer--that before you can be a champion, you have to be a contender.


"A novel filled with hardships and hope."--ALA Booklist


ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
ALA Notable Children's Book
New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

A Biographical Note About Robert Lipsyte

Robert Lipsyte (born January 5, 1938) was an award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times and the Emmy-winning host of the nightly public affairs show The Eleventh Hour. He is the author of twelve acclaimed novels for young adults and is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring his lifetime contribution in that genre. He lives in Manhattan and on Shelter Island, New York, with his wife, Lois, and his dog, Milo.

As illustrated in The Contender, Lipsyte values the process more than the result; competing well is more important than winning itself. 

Available Teacher Guides, Lesson Plans, Novel Units, and Activities for The Contender by Robert Lipsyte: