Seconds Out

By (author): Alison Dean

Kicking ass and taking notes—what it’s like to be a woman in the ring.

Alison Dean teaches English literature. She also punches people. Hard. But despite several amateur fights under her belt, she knows she will never be taken as seriously as a male boxer. “You punch like a girl” still isn’t a compliment — women aren’t supposed to choose to participate in violence.

Her unique perspective as a 30-something university lecturer turned amateur fighter allows Dean to articulately and with great insight delve into the ways martial arts can change a person’s — and particularly a woman’s — relationship to their body and to the world around them, and at the same time considers the ways in which women might change martial arts.

Combining historical research, anecdotal experience, and interviews with coaches and fighters, Seconds Out explores our culture’s relationship with violence, and particularly with violence practiced by women.

“An important addition to women’s martial arts scholarship, Dean provides personal insight into the radical space women occupy in sport fighting. Seconds Out is a must-read for all fighters looking for mentors in the complicated world of martial arts.” —L.A. Jennings, author of Mixed Martial Arts: A History from Ancient Fighting Sports to the UFC

“Dean brings a fresh new female voice to the topic of combat sports.” —Trevor Wittman, renowned MMA trainer, UFC analyst, and founder of ONX Sports

“Trained in the discipline and art of both fighting and literature, Dean combines both with style. She honors the fighters, writers, and historians who have come before her and definitively ends the idea of women fighters as a novelty. Seconds Out is a must-read for anyone who feels the call of the bell and reverence for a good fight.” —Sue Jaye Johnson


Alison Dean

Alison Dean is a lecturer in English Literature and Histories of Photography. Alison has a PhD in English from Simon Fraser University and she is an alumna of the School for Criticism & Theory at Cornell University and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art Independent Study Program. Her academic research focuses on the politics of portraiture and the portrait’s opposite – images of atrocity and torture. Alison currently trains and competes in kickboxing and boxing. She has a bad habit of dropping her left hand and her best punch is a straight right.


Seconds Out is, to put it bluntly, a joy to read, even for those (like this reviewer) who have no real interest in professional fighting.” Quill and Quire Review


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272 Pages
8.5in * 5.25in * 0.48in


May 18, 2021


Coach House Books



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