A high-school senior with a fiery temper and reputation for trouble, Diana lives with her brother and single dad, Sandro, in a housing project in Red Hook. Each week Sandro pays a local trainer to put some meat and muscle on his son, but when Diana decides she, too, wants to be a boxer, he refuses. With dogged determination, Diana begins a grueling training regimen and, under the loving tutelage of her trainer, becomes the gym's first female champion. The discipline, cunning, and humility required to be a contender are the cold shower Diana needs to focus her ambitions. But when she falls in love with a promising amateur, her priorities are forced into burning focus.