Dee and Dum wake Peekay every morning with coffee and a rusk (a hard biscuit) and he heads to the prison for boxing lessons and then his piano lesson with Doc. The prison staff allows these lessons to proceed since they enjoy the social status afforded by having two classical musicians in their midst. Doc does not understand Peekay's need to box, but he assists Peekay with "musical analogies." He says that in music, as in boxing, exercises make up one's foundation. Peekay's visits are so constant that he becomes part of the prison "shadow world."

Peekay becomes friends with Gert Marais, the Afrikaans warder. Gert fixes the boxing speedball so that it is low enough for Peekay to reach. Peekay wins Lietuenant Smit's praise for his speed, causing him delight. This praise excites him much more than any achievement in music. Doc and Peekay's friendship blossoms, however, and every Sunday Peekay cleans Doc's cottage with Dum and Dee. Marie brings food for Peekay and tobacco for his Granpa from her farm. Peekay's Granpa does not like the taste of this tobacco, however, and Peekay soon finds an alternative use for it.

Peekay learns most about the prison undercurrent from Geel Piet (Afrikaans for 'Yellow Peter'), a Cape Colored man born in District Six. A recidivist, Geel Piet is a dangerous criminal who has been in and out of jail for forty-five years. Peekay describes him as "the grand master in the art of camouflage." Geel Piet runs a black market of tobacco, salt, sugar, and "dagga" (cannabis) in the prison.

Geel Piet had no sense of morality, no sense of right or wrong. He existed for only one reason: to survive the system and to beat it.

For a year, Geel Piet cleans the floors during Peekay's piano lessons with Doc. He and Peekay slowly develop a relationship through snatched conversations until they have become conspirators in a new black market plan. Peekay begins to supply Geel Piet with his Granpa's tobacco by lining a bucket with it. Peekay's Granpa agrees to this, feeling compassion for the prisoners. In return, Geel Piet promises to transform Peekay into a phenomenal boxer. He was once the colored lightweight champion of the Cape Province. Geel Piet teaches Peekay one of the most important lessons of his boxing career: to box, not to fight.

Peekay has been training for two years and six weeks when Lieutenant Smit calls for him to enter the boxing ring with a big bully called Snotnose Bronkhurst. The entire squad crowds around the ring to watch as Peekay dances Snotnose around the ring, escaping his swiping blows. When Smit blows his whistle, they all clap and Peekay feels immensely proud. Geel Piet is even more excited, and dances in the background, which results in Smit punching him in the face. Peekay, still self-conscious of his small stature, begs Geel Piet to teach him street fighting. Geel Piet eventually submits and teaches him the "Sailor's Salute" or "Liverpool Kiss"--a very sly headbutt. One day at school two of the older kids challenge Peekay to a school fight. Peekay makes one of the boys cry, and the other apologizes to Peekay. Snotnose Bronkhurst, who was Peekay's second in the fight, now demands to fight Peekay. Peekay knocks Snotnose out with a perfectly timed and brilliantly disguised "Liverpool Kiss." Peekay now becomes a hero among his classmates and especially to the English boys who see him as a "single victorious ship on an ocean of defeat." Peekay becomes the mediator between the English and Afrikaans boys. He enjoys his leadership role.