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Gangsters, Gamblers, Bootleggers, And Wrestlers


Late summer, 1921: Disgraced former lightweight champion Pepper Van Dean has spent the past two years on the carnival circuit performing the dangerous “hangman’s drop” and taking on all comers in nightly challenge bouts. But when he and his cardsharp wife, Moira, are marooned in the wilds of Oregon, Pepper accepts an offer to return to the world of wrestling as a trainer for Garfield Taft, a down-and-out African American heavyweight contender in search of a comeback and a shot at the world title.

At the training camp in rural Montana, Pepper and Moira soon realize that nothing is what it seems: not Taft, the upcoming match, or the training facility itself. With nowhere to go and no options left, Pepper and Moira must carefully navigate the world of gangsters, bootlegging, and fixed competitions, in the hope that they can carve out a viable future.

Champion of the World is a story of second chances and a sport at the cusp of major change.

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Chad Dundas
Chad Dundas

Chad Dundas earned his MFA from the University of Montana, and his short fiction has appeared in the "Beloit Fiction Journal," "Sycamore Review," "Sou Wester," and "Thuglit." Since 2001, he s worked as a sportswriter for national outlets including ESPN, NBC Sports, "Sporting News," "Bleacher Report," and the Associated Press, as well as local and regional newspapers. A fourth-generation Montanan, he lives with his wife and children in Missoula."

(Broadcasts: 9/15/16 and 5/4/17)

Chérie Newman is an arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. Her weekly literary program, The Write Question, is broadcast on several public radio stations, and available online at and