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America’s Phantom Fighters

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: boxing, sports, American history, racial politics, arts and culture, City Journal, Will Wlizlo,

boxing1Try to brainstorm some of America’s most celebrated athletes. Pete Sampras and Johnny Unitas come to mind. Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken Jr. in baseball; Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant in basketball. America typically cleans up fairly well at the Olympic games, too. But chances are John L. Sullivan or Jack Dempsey weren’t your first ideas—maybe Muhammad Ali was somewhere in the mix. Boxing is a sport that has fallen precipitously out of fashion with the American public, an unprecedented trend for a sport historically linked to our national identity.

“[F]ew Americans could name more than one or two current boxers, if that,” writes Paul Beston for City Journal, a quarterly publication known more for wonky economic propaganda than for creative writing. He continues:

boxing2Beston’s intriguing article shows how the history of boxing intersects with larger social trends in American history, especially technological progress, international relations, and racial politics. My favorite anecdote came from the anxious years before America entered World War II:

Source: City Journal 

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