The death of Davey Browne
Simultaneously a history and interrogation of boxing as art and a cultural examination of sport.
When Sydney boxer Davey Browne died in 2015 after being knocked out in the final round of a title fight that he was about to win, boxing once again came under intense public scrutiny. For journalist Stephanie Convery, the story of that fatal fight raised questions she became determined to answer: who should be held accountable when someone dies in the ring? Did the actions of the referee, the ringside doctor, the combat sports inspectors, and the trainer affect what happened that night? Is death inevitable in a sport in which the only sure way to win is to knock your opponent out? And why aren't boxers, professional and amateur, told more about the dangers of concussion and head trauma?
These questions were especially compelling for one reason: at the time of Davey’s death, Stephanie had been training to fight in a boxing match of her own.
After the Count not only investigates the fight and the aftermath of David Browne Jr’s death, but it also interrogates the culture and history of boxing, its gender dynamics, the visceral appeal of the ring and the inherent contradictions of a violent sport that refuses to face up to the consequences of that violence. It is a book that explores the grit and euphoria of combat sport as it digs deep into our collective relationship with physical power, masculinity and violence.
“Convery's clear, sharp prose, steady gaze, and willingness to tangle with the complexities of violence make this a gripping read. After the Count is a thorough, unflinching investigation that will change the way you think about sport.”
“With the empathy of an insider and the acuity of an outsider, Stephanie Convery’s investigation into the morally ambiguous world of boxing is a gripping read. Convery approaches the gnarly intersection between law, medicine, sport and the culture of violence with intelligence, insight and a lightness of touch that belies the brutal subject of her masterful account. A total knockout of a book!”
“Convery skilfully intertwines her own experience with Browne’s story, along with questions around the sport of boxing itself: its contentious history, issues of gender and class, the hidden dangers of concussion and the rise of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). All the while, Convery has a light touch and never loses sight of the much-loved boxer felled before his time. After the Count is a fitting tribute to Browne and a worthy addition to the annals of sporting literature.”
Julia Taylor, Books + Publishing
“I was startled to read such a fine piece of journalism. I turned each page waiting for Convery’s precise and observant writing to unravel, or her arguments to spin off into earnest, censorial platitudes. I expected her to trip over her own cleverness and land flat on her learning — I mean, who the hell quotes Marx and Foucault in a book about a fight at Ingleburn RSL? — but she stayed on her feet right through to the end. Her reportage strikes a note-perfect tone between compassion, curiosity, indignation and the journalist’s responsibility — and, let’s face it, egocentric hunger — to get the full story. Her descriptions of the witnesses are clear-eyed, economical and compassionate. Convery has a lot to teach. She had me think more deeply about ideas I’ve been turning over for years and offered new ways of looking at behaviour I’ve been watching all my life. She even made me want to read Foucault. There’s not much more you can ask of a book.”
Mark Dapin, The Australian
“You could say it was written from the heart, but with the head. Convery evocatively sets the story in its downmarket milieu without ever sneering at it. She wouldn't; elsewhere in the book, she happily inhabits a grungy corner of it. It means that although she works herself up about the good and bad in boxing, she does not preach. Her book is full of zeal, not zealotry.”
Greg Baum, The Age
“In After the Count: The Death of Davey Browne, a devastating and lucid piece of creative non-fiction, journalist and amateur boxer Stephanie Convery is determined to ensure nobody gets off that easily. The author’s refusal to take things at face value leads her to challenge other received wisdom about gender, class and the role of violence. That might sound like weighty subject matter for a 280-page paperback about a fight at a western Sydney RSL, but she writes with an unassuming clarity that makes these sections the best in the book. Even if you disagree with Convery’s belief that boxing can be made safer, her book will force you to re-examine your assumptions. After the Count isn’t just for fight fans, but for fans of thoughtful Australian writing.”
Alex McClintock, The Sydney Morning Herald
“A forensically detailed account of circumstances surrounding Browne’s unexpected demise. Convery’s own story is woven into the narrative, and the tension she feels at being both drawn to and repulsed by the inherent brutality is explored at the same time as Browne’s tale. As a female boxer, she’d had to confront and subvert traditional notions of the meek and weak "fairer sex" and conquer the belief in some traditional hearts that women shouldn’t be attracted to let alone participate in this bloody, visceral sport.”
Thuy On, The Age
Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award
Longlisted • 2020 • Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award