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Knock Out!

By Reinhard Kleist

Translated by Michael Waaler

Paperback with flaps, 168 pp, $22.99

The American boxing champion Emile Griffith gained notoriety in 1962 when he brutally defeated the Cuban fighter Benny Paret. Ten days after the fight, Paret, who had directed a homophobic slur at Griffith during the weigh-in, died from his injuries.

In Knock Out!, Reinhard Kleist draws a powerful, emotive portrait of a bisexual black athlete who, facing racism and homophobia in 1960s America, found success in the world of boxing. This is the story of a fierce and ambitious fighter, and of a knock-out blow that ended one life and changed a second forever.

Reinhard Kleist

Reinhard Kleist was born in 1970 near Cologne. After graduating from the School of Graphic Art and Design in Münster, he moved to Berlin, where he has lived and worked as a freelance comics artist and illustrator ever since. Kleist's books have been translated into many languages and have received several prizes. His graphic novel Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness was nominated for both Eisner and Harvey Awards, as well as receiving the Max und Moritz Prize for Best German-language Comic. With The Boxer, Kleist became the first cartoonist to receive the German Youth Literature Award. An Olympic Dream was serialised in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung before being published, with some revisions, as a graphic novel.


"Knock Out! may be rooted in a world over half a century behind us but in terms of the attitudes and prejudice that Griffith faced it’s sadly just as relevant and topical as ever. One of the assured highlights of SelfMadeHero’s 2021 publishing schedule."
— Broken Frontier
"The narration succeeds in feeling intimate for the reader as Griffith’s guilt over Paret’s death is explored, along with the pressure he felt as a bisexual man trying to get by in the sports world. Kleist’s (The Boxer, 2014; An Olympic Dream, 2016) illustrations are dark and raw, fitting for life in the city during the 1950s and ’60s.”
— Booklist (US)
"Knock Out! is really rather special. It’s tells a great story and it tells it well."
— BookMunch