James McNicholas to publish The Champ & The Chump book

Wednesday 24th March 2021, 10:27am

  • Comedian James McNicholas is to publish new book The Champ & The Chump on 5th August
  • Following on from his hit live show The Boxer, it tells the true story of his boxing champion grandfather
  • He says the book is partly about "the importance of getting back up when you've been knocked down"
James McNicholas.

Comedian James McNicholas is to publish The Champ & The Chump. Based on his hit live show, the book tells the real-life story of what happened when he retraced the footsteps of his boxing champion grandfather.

The publishers say the book is "a heart-warming, hilarious true story about fighting and family, based on the acclaimed stage show."

The blurb explains: "Terry Downes - known as 'The Paddington Express' - was a rough and ready boxer, US Marine, gangsters' favourite and world champ, defeating fearsome fighters like the great Sugar Ray Robinson. At the time of his death in 2017, he was Britain's oldest living world champion.

"James McNicholas's school PE teacher once told him he was so unfit he'd be dead by the time he was 23. James has spent his life pursuing a career in acting. In reality, that has meant spells working as a painter-decorator, wine merchant and salesperson for Viking River Cruises.

"After Terry's death, James decides to retrace his grandad's footsteps to see just how it is that two people so close could be so different. It is a journey that takes James from London to Baltimore, to army bootcamp and a brutal boxing regime. And when James is a diagnosed with a neurological disorder, the symptoms of which replicate those of concussion, the two stories suddenly collide."

McNicholas, a member of the sketch group BEASTS, performed a solo show based around this story at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe. The Boxer received a notable number of five and four star reviews across its run.

Due to be published on 5th August by Headline, The Champ & The Chump is marketed as being for "fans of books by Dave Gorman, James Acaster and Danny Wallace, along with boxing tales from the likes of Tyson Fury and Ricky Hatton."

Publisher Richard Roper comments: "I was completely blown away by James's show at Edinburgh, and I am delighted that he has decided to explore this brilliantly funny and touching story further in his first book. To quote every single review of James's show: it's going to be a knock-out."

Talking to The Bookseller, McNicholas said: "I am very grateful to Headline for giving me the opportunity to do something in lockdown other than eat buns. While this project has a very personal significance to me, ultimately it's a book about family, belonging, and the importance of getting back up when you've been knocked down. I'm as excited to tell the story of Terry's triumphs as I am embarrassed to reveal some of my own spectacular failures."


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James McNicholas - The Champ & The Chump

James McNicholas - The Champ & The Chump

A heart-warming, hilarious true story about fighting and family, based on the acclaimed stage show. For fans of books by Dave Gorman, James Acaster and Danny Wallace, along with boxing tales from the likes of Tyson Fury and Ricky Hatton.

The Champ: Terry Downes - known as 'The Paddington Express' - was a rough and ready boxer, US Marine, gangsters' favourite and world champ, defeating fearsome fighters like the great Sugar Ray Robinson. At the time of his death in 2017, he was Britain's oldest living world champion.

The Chump: James McNicholas's school PE teacher once told him he was so unfit he'd be dead by the time he was 23. James has spent his life pursuing a career in acting. In reality, that has meant spells working as a painter-decorator, wine merchant and salesperson for Viking River Cruises.

After Terry's death, James decides to retrace his grandad's footsteps to see just how it is that two people so close could be so different. It is a journey that takes James from London to Baltimore, to army bootcamp and a brutal boxing regime. And when James is a diagnosed with a neurological disorder, the symptoms of which replicate those of concussion, the two stories suddenly collide.

First published: Thursday 5th August 2021

  • Publisher: Headline
  • Pages: 288
  • Catalogue: 9781472280374

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