Vito Donatelli has seen it all. He has worked with world champions like Sugar Ray Robinson and with punks like Red, the boastful egocentric fighter who foolishly takes a swing at Bud Martin near the end of Chapter 6. Donatelli has shaped a philosophy from his lifetime of watching and learning.
First, nothing is promised to anyone at Donatelli's Gym — or, we might infer, in life. Everyone is treated the same; each boxer is given only what he earns. Donatelli respects hard work, perseverance, and character more than raw talent. He values the process more than the result, the journey more than the arrival. He is the boss in his own gym, but he believes in giving people a second chance. Most importantly, Donatelli urges Alfred to be a contender, in life as well as in boxing. In both arenas, Donatelli tells Alfred he should let the championships come if they will, but he should not dwell on them. Set the goal for each day's work, not for the final result. Donatelli knows that, for most fighters, life beyond the ring will be more important than anything they do inside the ring.