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Paul "Kid Monk" Baroni, leader of "The Billy Goats," a gang of teenaged hoodlums from New York's Little Italy, is so sensitive about his ape-like face that he flies into a rage at any mention of it. Father Callahan, the new parish priest, induces Monk and his gang to use the church gymnasium, and gradually teaches Monk how to box without having to fight like a beast. Under Callahan's influence, Monk learns to control his temper and becomes interested in the church's social programs, especially after he meets Emily Brooks, who helps with the programs. On the night that Monk is to make his debut in the church choir, his old gang starts a fight with him, and Callahan, while attempting to stop it, is accidentally knocked unconscious by Monk. Believing himself cursed and ashamed to face the priest after this accident, Monk runs away with his friend Angelo and becomes a professional fighter. His new manager, the opportunistic Mr. Hellman, makes a deal with a boxing syndicate to build up Monk as a "killer" because of his animal-like fighting in the ring. Under Hellman's guidance, Monk becomes a top fighter and earns a considerable amount of money. One day, Monk encounters the priest, who forgives him and persuades him to attend a church dance, where he renews his interest in Emily. Realizing that Monk hates boxing but is driven to it by his ugly face, Emily convinces him to have plastic surgery. The surgery not only gives him a new face, but also a hard, self-centered outlook on life, causing Angelo to denounce his old friend. Monk begins to ignore Emily and takes up with gold digger June Travers, who abandons him as soon as he has spent all his money on her. Meanwhile, Monk loses match after match because of his new defensive style of fighting, which he developed to protect his face. When the syndicate decides to drop Monk, Hellman, aware that his consistent losses will drive up the odds against Monk, persuades him to revert to his old killer style for just one more bout by suggesting that he use his winnings to fund the church's recreational center. Convinced that Monk's devotion to the church will cause him to destroy his opponent, Hellman and the syndicate members bet heavily on Monk's victory. Although Monk tries hard to win the fight, he is beaten by a superior opponent, thus wiping out Hellman and the syndicate. His loss turns out to be his gain, however, for his efforts to help the church puts him back in the good graces of his family and friends. Monk then marries Emily and is appointed the physical education director of the new recreation center.