Cosmo Carboni (Sylvester Stallone) and his brothers Lenny (Armand Assante) and Victor (Lee Canalito) live and work in a poor section of New York City known as "Hell's Kitchen" in the 1940s. Cosmo, particularly, sees that they need to get out of their depressing situation. When he sees an illegal wrestling match, he sees a lot of money being passed around and realizes that his younger brother Victor could have beat the champion easily. With some effort he persuades the kind-hearted boy to compete. Lenny, too, comes along for the ride: managing a wrestler is a lot more interesting than his old job at a funeral parlor. Pressure builds and the stakes grow higher, until a local mobster puts "Frankie the Thumper" into the ring, and Victor must fight for his life. Stallone also wrote the screenplay, starred, wrote a novel based on the film, and sings the title song.