Jack Finnegan was feeling good tonight, his defence was holding up well and he was attacking as often as possible. His opponent was a higher ranked, better credentialed, more seasoned fighter. Every expert had predicted Jack would be catching z's by the 6th round.
Well it was nearly the end of the 8th round and he felt he was ahead on points. The bell went and Jack raced back to his corner. Jack didn't bother sitting down as he wanted to let his opponent know he was still as strong as a lion.
His trainer slapped him on the face. He only put up with that because his trainer happened to be his father.
"Jack listen to me, stop fucking around and concentrate. Remember what I said stick and move, stick and move. Don't go looking for the knockout because you're leaving yourself wide open"
"I can take him Dad"
"Stick to the plan Jack, no funny business. We need this win; this will propel us up the rankings and open up the big money fights"
Jack was momentary distracted, time stopped ... his Dad was screaming at him and the crowd was roaring but Jack was looking at a beautiful red headed vision. The visions name was Cathy Reilly and she was on the arm of another man.
Jack was pulled back to the present as the bell rang for the 9th round. The last thing his Dad said was
"Jesus Jack forget Cathy and get your head back in the fight"
The fight went the full distance. Jack was declared the winner in front of his home crowd. His Dad was jumping around like he had just won the lottery. Jack was glad to see his Dad happy because he hadn't seen him smile for a long time. His Mum's death last year had really sucked the life out of his dad.
Flashing back he had briefly thought of Cathy during the fight but that was soon forgotten as a microphone was shoved in front of him. Jack said all the right things. He thanked his support team, the crowd and his opponent John 'Killer' Cobb for a good fight. Jack headed back to the locker room for his shower and icing of his hands.
As Jack stood under the shower he couldn't believe the gall of that prick bringing Cathy to the fight tonight. He was sure he had done that on purpose to distract him and make him lose focus. The bastard would stop at nothing to keep sticking it to him. Cathy Reilly was Jack's high school sweetheart, the love of his life at one time, but now his ex-fiancée.
They broke up around the time of his Mum's death. Cathy then went straight into the arms of that prick. Actually the prick had the name Billy Finnegan. Billy Finnegan was a Sports Agent and Jack's older brother. Jack's thought process was interrupted with Gary calling out to him.
"Jack what the hell are you doing in the shower. Get out here so I can check your hands."
"Dad they are fine, you worry too much. Cobb's head will be sorer than my hands" Jack laughed
"Jack don't be a smart ass, we were lucky at times tonight. We have a lot to work on in the Gym Now let's see those hands"
Jack had suffered a break in his right hand in a previous fight and Gary wanted to make sure there was no re-occurrence of the injury.
"They appear fine, so ice them down now son."
"On it now Pop"
He left Jack to ice his hands and change into his street clothes. Gary then went about gathering all the boxing gear.
There was a loud knock at the door. Gary Finnegan opened the door to see his son Billy and Cathy Reilly standing outside.
"Hey Dad, we just wanted to come by and congratulate you and Jack on the win tonight. You really gave it to my client"
"Thanks Billy. Listen it's probably not the best time right now. I need to check Jack over, so why don't you and Cathy come over Sunday for lunch at the house"
"Sure Dad no problem, I'll see you then"
Cathy just nodded her head and slowly walked off with Billy. They both went back towards the arena. Gary hated being in the middle of this war between his two sons. He loved both his sons but they were both stubborn little bastards.
Gary secretly blamed Cathy Reilly for the problems in his household but he held his tongue. For the life of him he couldn't understand why Cathy ran straight into Billy's arms when Jack broke off their engagement. Oh to be young and foolish again he thought.
Jack had heard the exchange at the door and thought it might be a good idea to head to the beach this weekend for some R&R. He would be damned if he was going to spend Sunday with his brother and ex-fiancée. With that thought Jack began to slowly pack up his gear and went to speak with his Dad.
"Dad ... I think you were right about the fight. I need to rethink my ring strategy and get some R&R"
"Well son I guess that isn't such a bad idea. Where were you thinking of going?"
"I thought I'd talk to Uncle Matt and see if I could use his beach house for a few days."
"Ok son sounds like a plan. I'll ring Matt and let him know you need the beach house. Leave it to me"
"Thanks Pop, I'd like to go tomorrow morning if possible."
With that Gary went off to make the call to Matt.
Jack loved having generous sponsors and was very happy that his 'Uncle' Matt McEwan, owner of a business called 'Fire Power Sports' was always ready and willing to help Jack with anything and everything. Matt McEwan was also his Dad's business partner/best friend who hopefully wasn't using his beach cabin in Finbar this weekend.
Jack knocked on the door and his 'Aunty' Vera opened the door.
"Well, well, well the champ is here"
"Hi Aunty Vera how you going?"
"I'm just fine my darling. Great fight last night!"
"Thanks, I could have done better but I got the win and this will open doors to the big fights."
"Well I'll be there cheering you on but no doubt you need to wind down from last night's fight."
"Yeah I sure do"
"Well darling here are the keys to the cabin. Just relax and enjoy yourself. Matt said the place should have plenty of food"
"Thanks Aunty Vera. Say hello to Uncle Matt for me."
Jack had told Gary he was going to disappear for the weekend for a bit of R&R. Gary knew the real reason was that Jack was avoiding the pain of seeing Billy and Cathy together. Gary reasoned the boy did deserve a break for a few days after his fine performance against 'Killer' Cobb. Somehow he had to resolve this stupid feud between his boys. Sunday would give him the chance to speak with Billy and Cathy if necessary.
Billy and Cathy had just finished making love. Billy had a huge smile on his face. Was it satisfaction from sex or did he have some plan cooking in that head of his? Cathy wondered for the umpteenth time what the hell she was doing. Well she would find out why Billy seemed extra happy. It was funny considering his major client just got beaten by his brother.
"Billy is everything okay?"
"Sure it is sweetheart, why would you think otherwise?"
"Well your fighter did get beaten last night"
"Oh well honey you win some, you lose some. Jacky boy should remember that."
"What the hell do you mean by that?"
"Nothing Cathy. Just that in boxing a man's fortunes can change at any given time."
With that Billy gave her a kiss, turned over and went to sleep. Cathy couldn't sleep as she had too much on her mind. Well really one thing on her mind apart from Billy's cryptic answers was Jack. As usual Jack looked magnificent in the middle of that ring.
Cathy had to admit though, she still hated watching him fight for fear of him getting badly hurt. Cathy silently shed some tears wondering how something that was so right for such a long time had now turned into a bad nightmare.
Jack had just left Matt McEwan's house with the keys to the beach house in his hands. It was only 7am Saturday morning and he had a long drive ahead of him. Beside him in his truck was his faithful dog, a Border Collie called Bidgee. He still laughed about his dog's name.
He wasn't the one who named his dog. Jack had been given Bidgee by an old sparring partner a couple of years ago. The man who had given him the Border Collie was Neil Luff. Neil was born in New Zealand but spent his teens in Australia. Neil was glad for the move as it was a more competitive fight arena in Australia.
The dog got named after the 'Murrumbidgee River' in Australia. This was the river that Neil had fished and swam in when he was a young man. Neil had got the dog as a training partner when he did road work. He gave Jack the dog before leaving Australia. Neil had run into some visa problems in Australia and was sent back to New Zealand.
As Jack drove towards the beach house he went over the fight. Jack was secretly very pleased as he knew doors would now be opening for him at the tender age of 23 years. Jack was looking at a promising career as long as he kept his focus more completely centred on boxing.
Jack arrived at the beach house around 10 am. Bidgee jumped out of the truck and ran barking at some birds that had landed near the house. Jack quickly unloaded the truck. As he had been told by Vera, Matt had left the house well stocked with food and booze. Jack went out back and switched the heater on for the spa so it would be ready to get into later in the day.
Jack decided to take Bidgee for a walk and a swim in the ocean. He quickly got changed, grabbed a beach towel and called Bidgee. She was the only female Jack trusted now, with his mother no longer around and his ex-fiancée, just that, his ex. The ocean was warm and inviting. Jack felt thoroughly refreshed as he swam in the water for about 15 minutes and then got out and dried off.
After a run on the beach Jack and Bidgee made their way back to the beach house. Jack fed and watered his dog and left her on the enclosed deck to sleep. He had a quick shower to rinse off the salt water and sand and then changed into shorts and a t-shirt. Being around 1pm Jack put together a light meal and ate.
With that done Jack grabbed a light beer. Jack knew he shouldn't have been drinking but he felt he deserved a few. Anyway his next fight was yet to be decided so it wouldn't hurt his body too much.
Jack sat down outside on the deck and watched the ocean. Feeling totally relaxed after his first beer he decided to have a second. Sitting outside and watching the waves, his mind betrayed him and he started to reflect on his sometimes painful past...
Jack had a good childhood overall. He grew up in a rough neighbourhood in Mayson New South Wales where you had to be on the lookout for trouble at all times. His family were just getting by but the household was full of love. His Dad Gary was a cop.
Gary Finnegan was a man who could have made detective but he loved being in uniform and patrolling the streets with his partner Matt McEwan. Jack's Mum Lisa worked a register at the local grocery store part time. Lisa was a loving Mother who ensured she was home in the afternoons to be with her children when they returned from school.
Billy was Jack's older brother by 4 years and they were as close as two brothers could be. Billy looked out for Jack and vice versa. Gary started teaching both boys to box at a pretty young age. Gary had been a pretty decent amateur boxer growing up but he turned out to be an even better trainer and was always in high demand.
Gary helped run a boxing program in the neighbourhood out of 'Harry's Gym'. The gym was owned by an ex fighter called Harry Weaver. In reality without the help of Gary Finnegan and Matt McEwan running the boxing classes the gym would have closed its doors long ago.
Harry Weaver was once upon a time a contender for the Middle Weight crown. Now he was a bitter drunk who spent more time propping up a bar than running a gym. Fortunately Gary and Matt each had a set of keys so the gym was always opened in the evenings for classes.
Billy showed little promise as a fighter and only went through the motions to appease his Dad. Whilst enjoying the gym environment Billy was more book smart. He watched the managers who came around the gym to look at promising fighters and knew that was where the smart money was.
Jack was a different kettle of fish. Gary knew straight away he had a champion in the making. Jack was a tireless trainer, quick to learn, had a strong right hand and was fearless. He looked at home in the ring and everyone could see it.
Lisa wasn't thrilled with Jack's love affair with boxing but she trusted her husband completely. Lisa knew Gary wouldn't endanger Jack at such a young age sparing against boxers outside his ability or range of skills. Lisa was much happier that Billy seemed to have more interest in books than boxing.
Gary had to keep a tight rein on Jack as he was headstrong and chomping at the bit to start competing. Gary wanted to develop Jack a bit more prior to starting his amateur boxing career. It got more difficult for Jack as Billy was already competing in tournaments as a 12 year old. 8 year old Jack loved to watch his older brother box and his Dad even let him work the corner. Jack would always copy ring jargon to throw in his advice to Billy when working the corner.
"Knock him out Billy, Knock him out" Jack would always say each round. Billy would always reply with
"Anything for you little brother."
Billy won more fights than he lost but not by much. Gary knew Billy wasn't going to set the world on fire but Jack had something. It seemed he was born to box.
The schedule Jack maintained was set in stone when he was 8 years old. Get up, go to school, come home, homework, boxing, dinner and bed. On weekends Jack and Billy would workout on Saturdays and have Sundays off. Although there was a 4 year age gap the Brothers still did a lot together. Due to their rigid schedules they had no time to get into trouble.
Things continued that way for many years. At the age of 10 Jack began his amateur career and he won most of the time. The brothers were still very tight and looked out for each other. Things changed when Jack was 12 & Billy was 16. It came in the form of 12 year old Cathy Reilly and Billy's decision to quit competitive boxing.
By 16 Billy had enough of being in the ring and so he quit. Gary wasn't pleased but Lisa was delighted. Jack could actually recall some of the conversation the day Billy quit. It all happened at the Gym. Jack had been working out for 30 minutes and Billy had suddenly appeared in his school clothes. Gary was helping Jack with a combination when Billy appeared.
"Jesus Billy where the hell have you been! You'll be doing extra fitness work now" Gary proclaimed
"Dad I need to speak with you"
"After training we'll talk. Now get changed"
"No Dad I need to speak with you now!"
"Listen Boy for the last time get changed and we'll talk later"
"What do you mean no!"
You could hear a pin drop in the gym as all eyes turned to the Finnegan clan.
"Dad I didn't want to do it this way but you leave me with no choice. I'm not boxing anymore. You have Jack ... you don't need me."
"Son be reasonable..."
"Dad please I thought about this long and hard and I'm out. I'll see you at home."
The house was very icy for a long time and you could cut the tension with a knife. Gary then poured all his efforts into Jack. If Billy was upset he didn't say.
So Billy drifted away and was only interested in his school work and hanging out with his friends. Jack was upset with the decision of his older brother. Jack felt he lost his best training partner and confidant. Jack didn't have too much time to mourn the loss of his brother from boxing. Soon he was distracted by a cute little red headed girl called Cathy Reilly.
Cathy Reilly was new to the neighbourhood. Her family had fallen on hard times as her father had been injured in a car accident and could no longer work. Cathy's mother Lyn was now the main breadwinner and her Mum had to work 2 jobs to ensure they survived.
Jack was instantly smitten. Whilst he was fearless in a boxing ring he was completely out of his depth talking to the female species. Life kept on keeping on and Jack only admired Cathy from afar. Things began to change near Jack's 13th Birthday. Gary decided to quit the force which had come about from being involved in a near fatal shooting. Then Gary was given an intriguing offer by Matt McEwan his former partner.
Matt had retired from the force and had opened a store called 'Firepower Sports' and it was exceedingly successful. The store was doing so well in fact that Matt wanted to open another store on the other side of the city. Matt asked Gary if he would run it for him. The offer was too good to refuse so Gary agreed.
Billy being nearly 17 at the time wanted a car so he landed a part time job working with Gary. Gary had begun searching for an Assistant Manager who could run the store in his absence when he had other commitments. Gary found his Assistant Manager when Lyn Reilly came for an interview.
Naturally once Lyn began work both Gary and Billy came to know her well. They both found out Lyn had moved into the neighbourhood in the last year because of her husband's condition. Gary and Lyn soon became firm friends and with the money Lyn now made she was able to quit her second job.
The families soon became friends and often had cookouts on the weekends. Jack was delighted as he now had a venue to speak with Cathy outside of school. With all the time the Reilly and Finnegan families spent together it was only a matter of time before a friendship blossomed between Jack and Cathy. Jack still maintained his strict regime but whereas years before Billy & Jack would spend all their spare time together it was now Jack and Cathy.
By the time Jack had reached 14 he was starting to really make a name for himself in amateur boxing circles. Billy at 18 decided to work full time at 'Firepower Sports' while attending night school to gain his business degree. Around that time Harry Weaver passed away, years of drinking had finally taken its toll. Harry had no family to speak of so it was a very small funeral. The shock came later that week when Gary and Matt found out they were the new owners of 'Harry's Gym'. As per the instruction in Harry's will they now owned it lock, stock and barrel.
Gary and Matt made the decision to refit the gym out with new equipment and started attracting more legitimate trainers and boxers. Gary and Matt put their business heads together and in a short time the gym was doing a pretty good trade. Billy was then asked to run the Gym during the day and the nights when available. All in all life was going pretty well for the Finnegan family.
Jack in the meantime was winning titles and travelling to various events. As Gary had a flexible schedule the father and son team went to events together throughout the country. The thing Gary was most pleased about was the attitude Jack displayed when he lost. Jack took the loss on his chin and went back to the drawing board to find out what went wrong. The boy was learning and honing his craft. There were some bad losses but he kept on fighting.
Love was blossoming between Jack and Cathy but it was a near tragic event that pushed them together and brought those suppressed feelings to the forefront. The neighbourhood was changing for the better but there were still bad elements about.
The worst element was a local neighbourhood gang called the "Westies". The Westies were a mix of hoods, thieves and general riff raff. The gang ranged in ages from 13 to 22 years of age and most of them were on the track for a life time spent in and out of the correctional system.
Jack had got out of school late as he had been pulled up by his English Teacher to discuss the paper he had submitted. Jack and Cathy generally walked to and from school together. The unwritten rule was that after school they would wait up to 15 minutes for the other and after that time lapsed the person waiting would start walking home.
Jack figured he must have missed Cathy by maybe 5 minutes. Jack started to jog home in hopes of catching up to Cathy. As Jack ran passed an alley he spotted a group of about 5 boys milling around 2 people on the ground. It took Jack about 10 seconds to register that Cathy was one of the two on the ground.
Jack stopped instantly and went quietly into the alley. Cathy was struggling on the ground, her dress was ripped and her mouth was bleeding. She was screaming out for help. The Westies as part of their initiation would make a potential member commit a felony. Rape was a favourite choice. The boy on top of Cathy was talking non stop.
"You gonna love what I'm packing bitch"
"Get off me you bastard!"
"Listen you little red headed whore, you are gonna take it all"
"Baby I'm gonna fuck you so good. You're gonna bleed for a week"
"Hey boys once I'm finished we can all have a piece of this little slut"
Jack didn't think but acted. Jack said nothing as he needed the element of surprise. He began by blindsiding the first Westie he saw. Soon the remaining group forgot about Cathy and focused on Jack.
It was a vicious fight of 6 against 1. Jack used every weapon available in the alley as well as his fists. Jack had just finished punching the last member of the group when Cathy screamed out his name. Jack felt a sharp pain on top of his shoulder blade.
When Jack whirled around he found himself staring at a boy of about 16. The punk held a bloody knife in his hand. The punk started taunting Jack but made the fatal mistake of not being the aggressor.
Jack literally saw red; he hit the boy on his knife hand with a piece of lumber. This knocked the knife out of the punk's hand. Jack then used every pugilistic skill he knew and applied that on the face and body of his tormentor.
Jack finally stopped after he heard Cathy screaming his name over and over. The boy was unconscious and his body was badly broken up. Blood was still pouring out of the wound on top of Jack's shoulder. Cathy tore Jack's shirt off. She then applied pressure to the wound.
"Oh Jack please don't die. You saved me, you saved me!"
"It's ok Cathy; it'll be all right...
Are anymore of those punks around?"
"No Jack ... they are down in the alley and not moving"
"Well let's get outta here before more come or the cops turn up"
With that said they staggered to Jack's house.
Lisa had been getting worried as Jack was really late. Normal for most teenagers but not for Jack he took his boxing too seriously. There was a sudden pounding at the door. Lisa went to the door and found a pale Jack shirtless with what remained of his shirt held over an obvious wound. Cathy's dress was ripped and she had a swollen eye and a cut lip. Lisa raced Cathy and Jack straight to the hospital. At the hospital Cathy was treated for her wounds and Jack was admitted for surgery.
While waiting for Jack to come out of surgery a distressed Cathy explained the whole story to Lisa.
"They were trying to rape me Mrs Finnegan but Jack saved me he saved me" was all Cathy would say at the end. Repeating it like a mantra over and over again.
Lisa didn't hesitate to call the police about the assault and attempted rape.
The Police attended the hospital and interviewed Cathy. By that stage Gary, Billy and Lyn Reilly were at the hospital. Gary had a quick word with the detective and his partner. Both of them knew Gary Finnegan. The police soon had the suspects in custody. The boy that Jack had torn apart was in a serious but stable condition one floor above them.
Police would lay charges but advised there was the possibility of bail. That was soon forgotten when Doctor Evans appeared. Jack would be fine but wouldn't be able to box for at least 6 months. Jack would have to undergo rehabilitation but there was little doubt he would make a full recovery.
Cathy was beside herself and still in a state of shock. Billy drove Lyn and Cathy home. Gary and Lisa stayed by Jack's bedside. They were both very proud of their son and the man he was becoming. Jack did recover but he was frustrated as he wouldn't be able to touch a boxing bag, let alone put on gloves for at least 6 months.
The good news was that pressure had been applied and all 6 offenders plead guilty to assault and 1 of them to attempted rape. All the offenders would be going to be incarcerated for a lengthy period.
Cathy from then on became a fixture in the Finnegan's household. Jack was her hero and she knew she loved him like no other. Jack was going through rehabilitation and was becoming moody and irritable. Jack missed boxing! The only one who could pacify his moods was Cathy.
Then the unthinkable happened for Jack. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon when Cathy came over. Cathy was determined to let Jack know how she felt. She went up to Jack's room and spoke her mind. She told Jack he was her hero and she loved him. Now Jack didn't know much about girls but he reckoned he knew love when he felt it and saw it. Jack then replied in kind. Jack would always remember those words Cathy spoke:
"Jack I love you. You are my hero; I promise I will always be your girl. No other man will touch me."
The next 6 months were the best period of his short life. Cathy made him forget about his troubles. Their young love went from strength to strength. Jack and Cathy became inseparable. Where one went the other was following.
Jack completed his rehab and soon was back boxing. Gary was amazed at Jack's recovery but he suddenly felt like he had a 'co-trainer' at the gym. As soon as Jack began training again, Cathy appeared and wanted to learn everything about boxing. Cathy seemed to be a great influence on Jack and he was training better than ever before. Gary was relieved as he had thought Cathy would become a negative influence in the gym.
With Cathy practically living at the gym it was only a matter of time before Billy became an influence. Cathy loved Jack but she had a lot of time for Billy and they soon became the best of friends despite the age difference. Gary did take note of this friendship but thought nothing more of it.
As the years flew bye things only improved for the Finnegan family. Billy completed his degree and then started looking into sports management. However it was an unlikely meeting at the Gym that started his career path. A young boxer named John Cobb was looking for representation. Billy believed he could help find him someone worthwhile. Billy had befriended a young upstart called Peter Johns who had started a company called IMG (International Management Group).
An appointment was made and Peter was very impressed with Billy Finnegan's aggressive style while negotiating a contract for John Cobb. John Cobb signed with IMG that day and so did Billy Finnegan when offered a job as Peter John's right hand man. Peter Johns demoted his protégé Scott Rankin to bring Billy into the fold. Billy Finnegan was now a Sports Agent.
With Billy becoming a Sports Agent the Gym needed a Manager. Gary and Matt decided to promote Lyn Reilly to Store Manager at 'Firepower Sports'. Gary then took over the management of the Gym. This meant Gary could dedicate even more time to Jack's training needs.
Jack was on top of the world. He was in love with a beautiful girl and his boxing was improving. Jack had won several junior titles in the middleweight division and had just won the National Golden Gloves Championship at light middleweight. He was a force to be reckoned with at 17 years old. Jack had the privilege of attending several national training camps. He mixed and sparred with elite boxers and got some fine tutelage from well known trainers.
He ran into Billy several times as well as Billy was on the lookout for talent. It was about that time that Billy made overtures for Jack to become part of the IMG family. Billy then got really serious in his pursuit. Jack resisted as he felt he didn't want any type of representation and thought agents were slimy creatures. Many times Jack had seen young amateur boxers sign with agents. The boxer was then forced into a pro career and was feed to the sharks often matched against the wrong type of opponents. No ... his Dad's representation was all he required.
It was at this point cracks in the brother's relationship began and they only got wider. Billy felt humiliated. How would it look to his boss and clients when he couldn't sign his own brother? So began the war of attrition and it was a take no prisoners approach. Cathy got dragged into the middle of the argument and surprisingly took Billy's side.
Cathy was impressed with Billy's exciting lifestyle which included the flash new car, city apartment and nice suits. Cathy logically assumed that Billy must know what he was doing and who better to represent her boyfriend than his own brother.
Billy had taken it a step too far recruiting Cathy as his messenger. Jack had a lot on his mind ... he was turning 18 and felt soon he had to decide on whether to go pro or not. Cathy applying pressure on signing with IMG made things worse. It all came to a head on Christmas Day and would have wider ramification years later. Billy knew it was only a matter of time before Jack went pro. Billy decided he would give it one last try at persuading Jack to join IMG. Christmas morning went well with the family opening presents and generally having a great time. Mid morning the McEwan and Reilly families came over for Christmas lunch. It was during lunch that the fireworks began. Billy seized his opportunity when Matt McEwan casually asked if Jack was considering going pro. Jack said he hadn't decided. Billy put his 2 cents worth in and started pushing his case.
"Jack you need solid representation to help guide you through the world of boxing. There are a lot of sharks out there"
"As I said Billy thanks but no thanks"
"Look Jack. IMG represents some great boxing talent. I can make things happen for you. Cathy and I both agree this is the best thing for your future"
"Leave Cathy out of this"
It was starting to get heated so Gary tried to put on end to the conversation.
"Billy for the love of God its Christmas, just give it a rest"
"You're like a broken record; when the time is right we will organize the proper representation for Jack"
"Well I hope it's with IMG!"
Cathy had silently been watching the exchange as had the rest of the table. She could see Jack starting to get angry and wondered if she should say anything. That all ended when Jack got up thanked his Mum for dinner and left the table. Cathy followed him as he went to grab his coat.
"Jack wait where are you going"
"For a walk ... alone"
"Why are you angry with me?"
"I'm sick and tired of the Cathy and Billy double act. I can decide my boxing future"
"I only want to help you Jack. I love you. I want to secure our future"
Before Jack could reply Billy appeared at the door and started his sales act again.
"Listen Jack before you go. I have an IMG contract with me, just sign on the bottom line and I'll take care of the rest"
"Look Billy ... FUCK OFF!"
Cathy knew something bad was about to happen. Jack had reached his boiling point.
"You ungrateful little prick! I was wiping your snotty nose for all those years; you'd be nothing without me. Do you know how bad this makes me look at IMG?"
"Billy I couldn't care less, I wouldn't sign with IMG if you guys were the last agency on earth"
With that Jack turned to leave Billy made a fatal mistake and pushed Jack in the back. Jack whirled around and reacted. Jack sent a perfectly timed shot with his fist at Billy's nose. There was a loud crunch with Billy on the ground with a broken nose. Cathy screamed and knelt beside Billy nursing him. Jack opened the door and left. Gary found Jack hours later at the Gym training.
The brothers who were once so close were no more. They were civil towards each other at family events but in private it was a different matter. Cathy and Jack's relationship changed and it took a long time to get it back on track. Jack felt slighted and used by Cathy. Cathy worked hard to earn his trust back while she still remained friends with Billy.
It was a low key professional debut for Jack with Gary as his trainer. Cathy was ringside and blew him a kiss before the bell rang. The fight went the distance against the journeyman opponent. Jack won easily, it was a unanimous decision. Jack asked Matt McEwan to handle any business arrangements. Matt agreed.
By 20 years of age Jack was a star on the rise. However every time he tried to go that one extra step IMG was there to block it. Gary was as frustrated as Jack and let Billy know in no uncertain terms. Billy said it wasn't his doing; Jack just needed to generate some interest as he was a nobody.
The war continued and Billy took every opportunity to bring Jack down. Jack however continued to flourish and his popularity grew. At 21 with a solid career established Jack asked Cathy to marry him. Everyone had known it was just a matter of time. Cathy enthusiastically responded with a definite YES! So life continued along that path. Cathy made several attempts to help make peace between the brothers to no avail.
When Jack was 22 everything changed for the Finnegan family. Lisa was driving to get some milk from the market when a truck lost control in the wet and a collision occurred. Lisa was killed instantly. Death can drive some families closer or some apart. The Finnegan's were driven apart.
It was an emotional time. There was so much pain and anger. Jack became distant and aloof and would disappear for hours usually ending up at the gym. Cathy felt alone and abandoned. Billy was around to comfort his Dad but he ended up comforting Cathy. Jack and Billy no longer held in their hostility for each other. With Lisa gone and Gary an emotionless shell for the moment Billy and Jack verbally jousted at every turn. Earlier indifference was now turning to hate. The powder keg just waited to be lit.
Jack had felt particularly bad that day. Cathy was pressuring him to consider getting an apartment together before they married later that year. Jack felt Gary still needed him and refused. They fought about the apartment but it was more about Jack's attitude about everything in his life. Cathy wanted security. Jack went running. Halfway through his run he turned around, he had to speak with Cathy and apologize.
Jack came home to a rude shock. Billy's car was in the driveway. Jack mentally braced himself for the confrontation. What he found when he walked in the door cemented everyone's immediate future. Billy and Cathy were on the couch, passionately kissing and holding each other. Jack grabbed Billy by the shirt collar and physically threw him out the door.
"I never want to see you again you son of a bitch. You are nothing more than a gutter rat"
Billy was too stunned to answer so he got in his car and left. By then Jack's focus was on Cathy.
"How the fuck could you do this to us Cathy!!"
"Jack it looks worse than it is. Billy is just a friend"
"You are as bad as that prick. You have conspired with that rat from the beginning."
"Jack ... that isn't true. I love you" Cathy cried
"Love me! We are basically married and here you two are practically fucking in my father's house!"
"Give me the ring ... it was my grandmother's and get out. Go to Billy and leave me alone!"
Cathy collapsed on the floor crying uncontrollably. Jack roughly picked her up, took back the ring and asked her to leave.
Cathy soon complied. Everyone's fate was sealed. Jack refused any further contact from Cathy or Billy. Jack refused to listen because he knew what he saw and felt betrayed. Billy and Cathy found comfort with each other and eventually started dating.
By then Jack moved his boxing to another level. His focus was on boxing and only boxing. Soon Billy and IMG had no choice but to deal with Jack. The fight with John Cobb was arranged and if Jack won he would move into the big time and attract bigger game. Billy tried every tactic in the book to disrupt Jack and Matt so the contract negotiations were painful.
Matt felt out of his league and told Jack so. If Jack won this fight, he would need to find a good agent in the boxing world. The contract was finally signed and the fight was on. Billy tried took one last shot at disrupting Jack. Billy brought Cathy along to watch the fight. It backfired and Jack went on to win.
After coming back from all that history, Jack decided it was time for a spa. He patted Bidgee and then finished his 3rd beer. Jack relaxed his aching body against the warm jets. Jack had decisions to make and he thought he knew of exactly the right person to sign with.
The kicker was that Billy would never see it coming!
Billy Finnegan woke up Sunday morning smiling and thinking a name. That name was Ernie Johnson. Ernie Johnson was the hottest young amateur boxer in Australia. The 18 year old Middleweight had a fantastic record and was about to turn pro. Every management company in the country had been after Ernie Johnson and after an exhausting chase he had signed with IMG on Friday.
The better news was that Peter Johns had personally asked Billy to take control of Ernie's career. The first step was finding Ernie a good trainer and training facilities. Billy had a plan that he believed would work out extraordinary well for him. There was absolutely no downside. Everyone would be forced to do it Billy's way now. The last piece of the puzzle was Gary Finnegan.
Billy and Cathy were driving to Gary's house for Sunday lunch. Cathy was feeling very uncomfortable. For starters Billy was whistling and had been on a high all weekend. What the hell was going on? Secondly and more importantly she was petrified that she would be seeing Jack. Cathy had no idea what to say to him. Why had she wrecked everything that had been good in her life? Why was she with Billy?
Well she could answer that last one. She started seeing Billy to upset Jack and make him come back to her. What a foolish girl she was thinking that Jack would be the white knight coming to her rescue again. With that last thought she decided to find out why Billy was so happy.
"Why are you so happy? I know it wasn't just the sex last night."
"Cath everything will be revealed at lunch today. I have a massive announcement that is going to be great for all of us!"
"Does that include Jack?"
"Jack, Jack, Jack. It's always about bloody Jack. Well after today Jack is going to have to make a few decisions. If he toes the line he will be well on his way. I can't say anything more until lunch. Trust me you will be delighted."
Suddenly Cathy had a very bad feeling that everything was going to change ... for the worse.
Jack woke up Sunday morning with a headache. How many beers did he have? Bidgee was on the bed asleep. For a border collie she could sure be lazy. Well then again he had gotten to bed about 1am and it was now only just coming up to 6am. Jack figured a swim would do him a world of good. So he woke Bidgee up, grabbed his towel and hit the beach.
The early morning swim was just what the doctor ordered. The water was refreshing and his head felt a lot better. Jack and Bidgee then headed back to the cabin. Breakfast was soon made and eaten by both dog and master. After cleaning up, Jack let Bidgee out for a run and followed slowly behind. Jack knew he would have to head back to the city tomorrow as arrangements had to be made for his boxing future.
He knew he would have to contact Scott Rankin today and arrange to meet as soon as possible. Scott Rankin had been Peter Johns' protégé at IMG until Billy Finnegan came on board. Scott was known as an honest, straight forward and out of the box thinker. He cared for his clients and not exclusively the bottom line. Scott was nicknamed 'Jerry Maguire' in the sports management business for the way he treated his clients.
It hadn't taken long for Billy Finnegan and Scott Rankin to become bitter enemies. This was mostly Billy's doing. Scott had taken his demotion fairly well when Billy first joined IMG but Billy made Scott's position in the company untenable.
Scott's life became miserable as Billy stole his clients within the firm, humiliated Scott in front of Peter Johns at every opportunity and generally made his life a living hell. Peter Johns thought it was great as it drove his sports agents to 'higher levels'.
The breaking point came when Billy was making jokes with staff about the appearance of Scott's wife Eve. He called her the 'white ghost who walks' and that was the only printable comment he made. When he started leaving paper cut outs of what appeared to be white stick figures all around the office he crossed the line. What Billy didn't know nor bothered to find out is that Eve Rankin was recovering from cancer thus her pale and skinny appearance.
Scott literally did a Jerry Maguire and quit IMG taking several high profile Rugby League, Rugby Union, AFL, Soccer, Boxing and Cricket sport stars with him. To rub salt into the wounds of IMG many of these athletes were under Billy's 'management'. Scott Rankin was now IMG's biggest problem.
Scott knew IMG's methods inside and out and made it his purpose to cause IMG inconvenience whenever he could. Rankin Management was a small but profitable operation and they were very well regarded.
At 9:30am Jack made a call to Rankin Management. Even though it was Sunday Morning he was confident that Scott would take his call. Rankin Management was run out of the Rankin's home in an attached office built on their large property.
"Good Morning Eve speaking"
"Hello ... I was wondering if I could speak with Scott Rankin please"
"Scott is busy at the moment can I take a message?"
"Yes could you have Scott call Jack Finnegan when he is available?"
With that Jack left his mobile number and thanked Eve Rankin for her time.
Within 2 minutes Jack's mobile started ringing. Jack answered
"Good Morning ... Jack Finnegan speaking."
"Jack its Scott Rankin returning your call."
"Scott ... thanks for calling back. I know it must be a bit of a surprise for a Finnegan to be ringing you. No doubt you may be suspicious."
"Well sure I'm surprised Jack but believe me I don't hold any negative feelings towards you or your father Gary."
Jack noticed that that feeling didn't extend to Billy Finnegan nor should it he thought.
"Scott I'm glad you said that. As I have been told you are a man who judges everybody individually. I could understand you not liking the Finnegan name however..."
"Well Jack that's nothing to worry about. The past is the past and I should thank IMG as now I make my own decisions and run my business the way I want to. Although this is very pleasant chatting to you on this Sunday morning I'm sure you didn't ring to discuss past events that frankly have no bearing on you."
"You are correct Scott. I'm sorry to bother you on a Sunday but was hoping I could meet with you tomorrow regarding representation. Scott ... Scott are you there... ?"
"Sorry Jack I'm just a little stunned. I mean I'd love to meet with you but I've got to say I just assumed you would be with IMG. I mean Billy was always bragging about you and he made it plain as day that you would be with IMG when you needed to be represented."
"Well Billy doesn't make decisions for me. In fact Billy has no bearing in my life period".
"Ok Jack no problem. Look I'm tied up tomorrow and then have a trip out of town for 3 days and will be back Friday. We could meet Monday morning I suppose but I don't think it would be enough time as my meeting is at 12pm and will run for the rest of the day. Friday would be better"
"Scott can I ask what you and your lovely wife are doing today?"
"Well actually Jack nothing special we were just having a lazy day really."
"How would you like to be my guests at the beach cabin I'm currently in? I could cook a late lunch and you are more than welcome to stay the night."
"Well Jack that is a mighty tempting offer. Let me speak with Eve and I'll give you a call back."
"No problems Scott. I'll await your call."
With that Jack hung up and decided to check on Bidgee. Hopefully he could be well on his way on starting this process with Scott. Jack tried to give Gary a call but the phone was engaged or off the hook. As Jack hung up the phone rang instantly.
"Hi Jack its Scott."
"Hi Scott what's the verdict?"
"Well Jack, Eve and I would be delighted to take up your invitation. Just give us the directions and we'll be there in a couple of hours."
With that Jack gave direction to the cabin and assured Scott all would be ready on his arrival.
Gary answered the door a little after 10am and found Billy and Cathy on his doorstep.
"Jesus Billy I said lunch not breakfast."
"I know Dad but I need to speak with you before lunch. Is Jack around?"
"No son Jack has gone away for the weekend."
"Ok that's fine."
"Well come on in. Hello Cathy how are you?"
"Hi Mr Finnegan pretty good thanks"
With that said Billy and Cathy entered the house and sat down in the living room.
"Dad do you mind taking the phone off the hook?"
"Sure Son ... is it that serious?"
"Yeah Dad it's life changing"
Jack continued to try Gary but the phone was still engaged. He would have liked his Dad to come and meet with Scott and Eve but no matter. He thought he'd give his Uncle Matt a call just to feel him out on this decision. Jack tried Matt and Vera's home phone first.
"G'day Uncle Matt ... it's Jack"
"Jack my boy, hope everything is okay at the cabin."
"Everything is great. I really appreciate you letting me stay here."
"Jack you know the Cabin is available anytime you need it. By the way great fight. You are going all the way son."
"Thanks Uncle Matt I really appreciate the support you and Aunt Vera give me. Look have you got time to talk business at the moment."
"Sure Jack, what's on your mind? Please don't tell me we have to negotiate with Billy and IMG again ... that was the most painful experience of my life."
"No Uncle Matt. I've actually taken your advice and I'm getting representation."
"Oh thank god finally this family feud is at an end. Billy will be happy."
"Well he won't be happy. Actually Uncle Matt I'm going with a different Management Group."
"Rankin Management. In fact Scott and Eve Rankin are coming to see me at the cabin today to discuss terms."
"Have you told your Father?"
"No I've been trying the home phone but it's off the hook."
"Well Jack don't sign anything until you've spoken with him. All I can say is you sure like to fight. Billy will really try to stick it to you now."
"I'm my own man Uncle Matt."
"I know son and we are all proud of you. Just follow your instincts. Let me know how it turns out. I won't say anything to Gary until you give me the all clear."
"Thanks Uncle Matt."
Jack decided to sit outside and wait for the Rankin's. He had a bit of thinking to do before they arrived.
Gary passed the phone off the hook and returned to the living room with some coffee for everyone.
"So life changing you say?"
"Yeah Dad for everyone and I mean everyone"
Cathy decided not to interrupt and just listen to the two Finnegan men talk. She had a feeling in the pit of her stomach that Jack was going to be hung out to dry. She just hoped she was wrong.
"Well this isn't going to be another IMG sales pitch for Jack is it Son?"
"No Dad this literally has nothing to do with Jack."
"I have a name for you Dad, Ernie Johnson"
"Ernie Johnson ... as in Ernie Johnson, Amateur Australian Middleweight Champion, Ernie Johnson?"
"The very one Dad. He signed with IMG on Friday."
"Wow son that's incredible! Every man and his dog wanted to sign him."
"The news gets better Dad I'm his Manager and he's going pro."
"Well done Billy. That's fantastic."
"Dad it's more than fantastic. He needs new training facilities and a trainer and he wants to work with the best. That's you Dad."
"Son you must be kidding."
"No Dad I'm not, part of the reason the kid signed with IMG was because I work there and he knew I was your son."
"So what do you say Dad do you want to be on Team Johnson?"
"Son I would love to train Ernie but I still have commitments with Jack."
"I know that Dad but surely you could train them together?"
"Well sure Son I mean if Jack is in agreement."
"Why wouldn't he be Dad? You told me he needs more quality boxers around him and to work with him. Ernie Johnson fits that criteria."
"For once Billy I agree completely. What's the catch?"
Cathy Reilly thought to herself here it comes. Her heart felt like it was in her mouth. Jack was about to get screwed.
"Well Dad it really isn't much of a catch but I need you to sign a contract with IMG today."
"Why the rush Son and why the contract?"
"Dad, Ernie Johnson is hot property. You wouldn't believe the hoops we had to jump through to sign this kid. We have trainers literally lined up at the door to work with IMG and Ernie. Peter Johns wants a quick answer as Ernie is IMG's star recruit otherwise he wants me to sign another trainer tomorrow. Dad, Ernie wants to work with you. He respects Jack as a fighter and knows you are the man behind his rise to the top."
"I wouldn't say that Billy. Jack is a once in a generation fighter."
"Yeah Dad well so is Ernie and quite frankly he needs your guidance more than Jack does at this point of his career."
"Let me try Jack now. I want to speak with him first."
Jack heard the car before he saw it. Down the road came a BMW with two people in the car. The Rankin's had arrived. Jack turned off his phone as he didn't want any interruptions.
"I can't get on to Jack; it's going direct to voicemail."
"Dad I have the contract here for you. Have a read over it I promise it is very generous and offers some great monetary incentives."
"Well son I'll have a read over it. While I'm doing that you can prepare lunch."
"Sure Dad I'll fire up the barbeque. Let's go Cathy"
With that Gary started to read the contract. IMG was offering him a very generous contract. Not only would he be getting 10% of the winning purse but he would be given a very generous annual salary to be 'retained 'as a trainer. There were large incentives also built in for the progress Ernie made up the rankings.
The real prize however was that IMG would upgrade Harry's Gym with all the latest equipment and help with operating costs. This was too good to be true. Billy must nearly run IMG for Gary to be offered this contract. This was just unheard of. It was so good that it would be very difficult to say no.
Cathy was feeling very sick with worry. Billy was a slick one, if Gary signed that contract the Finnegan family would implode. Cathy needed to speak with Jack. Cathy excused herself and went to the bathroom from there she made a call to Jack's mobile but it went to voicemail. Cathy left a message.
"Jack I know I'm the last person you want to hear from but you need to call me now. Your boxing future depends on it!"
Cathy then returned to the kitchen and started preparing the salads for lunch. She quietly cried as she felt the last pieces of her heart breaking.
Bidgee was the first to greet the visitors. The Border Collie was all over the Rankin's. Clearly the Rankin's were dog people and Bidgee's reaction was a very good sign that the female in Jack's life liked the couple.
"Scott, Eve good to meet you both."
"The pleasures all ours Jack. Isn't that right Scott."
"It sure is. I'm a big fan Jack. You are one hell of a great boxer."
"Well enough of this praise. My ego's big enough as it is, come on in." Jack laughed
"I love your dog Jack. What's her name?"
"It's Bidgee and she sure likes you and Eve."
Jack led the couple into the beach cabin and they were suitably impressed. Jack had prepared seafood and salad. Jack opened a bottle of wine and they all made small talk while eating lunch.
After lunch was finished Eve asked if Jack would mind if she took Bidgee for a walk along the beach and she thought she'd go for a swim as well. Jack had no problems with that arrangement and showed Eve where she could change.
With that done Jack offered Scott a cold beer and he accepted without hesitation. For some strange reason Jack felt a real strong connection already with Scott and Eve.
"That was a mighty fine meal Jack. Eve was suitably impressed and she is hard to please."
"Ah it was nothing Scott, my pleasure. You two make a great couple."
"Thanks mate I couldn't agree more."
"So tell me what's on your mind?"
"Look Scott ... I won't beat around the bush. I need representation for myself and my Father. My Uncle Matt has been representing me but he has a business to run and quite frankly doesn't have the expertise. The last negotiation was with IMG and it was painful and we were totally out of our element."
"Yeah I know how IMG operates Jack. They would screw you over for five cents."
"Well I don't know if you saw the Cobb fight on Friday..."
"I was actually in the crowd Jack ... great fight."
"Wow I didn't realise that..."
"One of my fighters was on the undercard. He's not a bad prospect."
"Well you know that doors should start to open for me now but that also means we have to deal with the likes of IMG."
"Not only that Jack, you will also start getting call for all types of things from advertising campaigns to helping out charities."
"Exactly Scott ... that's why we need you."
"Jack I'll be honest. Rankin Management would love to represent you. You are in my opinion a future world champion but I really need to know why you haven't gone with your brother."
"That's a fair question Scott. My brother and I are no longer on speaking terms in fact I gave him his crooked nose. I want someone who wants to work with me on my career not someone who thinks he owns my career and wants to squeeze every last cent out of it."
"Well that's fair enough Jack. Your answer impresses me. The fact is we are comparatively a very small company but we like to offer quality not quantity. We think of all our clients as family and I'm happy to give you names of some of our clients for you to check on us."
"Scott you have been on my radar for quite a while. I have discreetly checked into you via some mutual friends. I know you and Eve run a tight ship and treat all your clients like friends. I must say your management fees seem fair. You don't take more than what appears to be reasonable in return for all your hard work."
"Well Jack I know this sounds corny but we really aren't in it just for the money. Eve's cancer scare taught us that there are more important things in life than money and power. We do very well though and make a good living. We just don't believe we should be stripping our clients like the bigger companies. Anyway the tax man does enough damage as it is."
"Amen to that brother"
"Look Scott the only real stipulation I have is that my Father continues to train me."
"Not a problem Jack. We don't like to fix something that isn't broken. We like our clients to have control in that area anyway. We are there for advice, guidance and recommendations but the final decision is yours. Anyway your Father is a fantastic trainer and we can work with him anyway you see fit."
"Scott I'd like to sign with you today. Just let me try my Dad again."
"Sure Jack I'll just grab my laptop and printer from the car and get working on the contract."
Jack went to try Gary again. "The phone is still off the hook. Well I'll have to make the decision by myself." Jack muttered to himself.
Back in town Gary, Cathy and Billy had just finished lunch. Cathy excused herself to go visit her mother she couldn't bear to look at Billy any longer. With Cathy gone, Billy pounced.
"Well Dad what's the decision."
"Son before I sign I want to talk about Jack."
"Ok ... what about Jack."
"You're not trying to screw him over are you?"
"No Dad ... I admit I was probably over aggressive in my pursuit of Jack but we live and learn."
"So there are no problems in still training Jack?"
"No Dad, it would be preferable if he came into the IMG family but Peter has assured me that an unrepresented or independent fighter is fine as long as it doesn't clash with IMG's commitments."
"Promise me son that this isn't about forcing Jack into a corner."
"No Dad this isn't about Jack. It's about you as a trainer and the bonus is Jack will have some real decent Gym competition."
"Ok son I accept that."
Cathy returned from her visit and had the 'honour' of witnessing Gary sign the contract. 'You beauty' thought Billy. The trap had just shut; Jack was now IMG's.
Meanwhile at the cabin Scott said "well here is the contract Jack, read it over and I would advise you to get legal advice."
"Call me stupid but I trust you Scott. You are only taking 5% of winning purses, covering training costs and taking a bigger slice of the promotional work which is only fair. I can live with that. Thanks for adding the clause that I can pick my trainer and support staff. I'll sign. Uncle Matt will be relieved as will Dad. Finally someone to take over the management and we can concentrate on boxing."
Jack signed the contract and was now officially part of Rankin Management.
"Jack I'll have a business plan to you by Friday and with your consent I'll release a media statement tomorrow that you are now represented by Rankin Management."
"Sounds good Scott, want another beer?"
Cathy had returned to the apartment and Billy had gone over to Peter Johns' house with the contract. Cathy made a decision she was done with the Finnegan family but she owed it to Jack to speak with him and warn him. She pulled her phone out and dialled Jack's number.
Jack was just seeing Scott and Eve off when his phone rang. The Rankin's decided to head back to the city and get started on the press release. Jack waved goodbye and answered the phone figuring it was his Dad returning his call.
"No Jack its Cathy ... don't hang up."
"What do you want Cathy?"
"I need to see you, it's important."
"I told you we have nothing to talk about ... you made your decision."
"This isn't about us Jack! It's about you, your boxing and more importantly your Dad."
"What's happening? Is Dad ok?"
"Gary is fine but we need to meet. Where are you, I'll come to you."
Jack reluctantly gave her the address. Cathy knew the way to the beach house as they had spent many romantic interludes in this very cabin.
What was going on? Should he try his Dad again? He decided he'd wait for Cathy and find out what she wanted first. With that thought Jack switched off his phone and waited for Cathy to arrive.