A boxing club is in full swing, music blaring, as the audience enters the theatre. A young woman is exercising on the ground, while several young men train inside the ring, skip and pummel a punching bag, sweat dripping and flying.

Gideon Mzembe and Pacharo Mzembe. Photo by Brett Boardman

As the lights go down, a young man boxing with a fellow trainee suddenly loses it, temper snapping, and attacks his opponent from behind. Given a good dressing down by Luke (Margi Brown-Ash), a diminutive woman with a shock of white hair who runs the club, we are introduced to Isa (Pacharo Mzembe), a young Congolese refugee now living in Brisbane, who is trying to literally punch his way to a new future.

Prize Fighteris the first full-length play by Congolese-Australian playwright Future D. Fidel. A refugee from East Congo, who fled civil war in 1996, he spent eight years in a Tanzanian refugee camp before being granted refugee status in Australia in 2005 at age 18.

Prize Fighteris semi-autobiographical. Fidel wasn’t a child soldier as Isa turns out to have been, but everything in the play draws on things...