After 17 years in the ring, it's the final bell for Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn). A fight doctor confirms one more punch for the washed-up heavyweight and he could become permanently disabled. Reluctantly, but with the support of his faithful trainer (Mickey Rooney) and a kindly employment counsellor (Julie Harris), Rivera tries to land a job outside the ring. But his calculating manager Maish (Jackie Gleason) has other plans for Rivera. With the mob closing in on him for payment of a huge gambling debts, Maish coerces Rivera into returning to the ring for a lucrative, yet humiliating, career in staged wrestling matches.