Twelve-year-old Chula Sanchez isn't thin, isn't beautiful, and because she's Mexican, isn't popular in her south Texas town. And now that a car accident has left her father paralyzed and her plagued with seizures, she is poor. But Chula's father is determined to pull his family out of debt. He sends for El Jefe—the most revered prizefighter in Mexico. Chula's father hopes that with steel-pipe arms and fists like pit bulls, El Jefe will win the local illegal boxing matches and bring home much-needed money. But El Jefe—a man who many see as a monster—only brings confusion to a home that is already filled with problems. And now Chula must decide for herself whether good and bad can reside in one person and whether you can have strength in your heart when your fists have none.