Writer Maurice Gee’s experiences growing up in West Auckland during World War II were the basis for this home front drama expertly realised by the producer/director team of Ginette McDonald and Peter Sharp. Twelve-year-old Rex Pascoe (Milan Borich — future singer in the band Pluto) is a war-obsessed schoolboy worried about his father’s black-market dealings. Meanwhile, American soldiers are making their presence felt but not all of their attitudes are welcome. The locals’ prejudices are about to be tested by the arrival of a GI to stay with Rex’s family.
The champion doesn’t have such a strong storyline. This is much more a story of character than incident, which is why I think it will appeal to older children.– Maurice Gee in The Listener, 7 October 1989, page 29