Rumbles in the jungle: Boxing, racialization and the performance of masculinity.
Journal of Leisure Studies, 23(1) pp. 5–17.
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Men's boxing is a sport with successful, high profile and affluent participants and one that includes many of the very much less well off. It has traditionally involved high participation by men from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. The sport is beset by contradictions, between racism and opportunity, discipline and excess, beautiful bodies and those that are fractured and damaged, and between traditional and alternative presentations of masculinity. The negotiation and presentation of raced and gendered identities have a strong presence, especially in terms of the ways in which hegemonic masculinity might be enacted. This paper is about racialized masculinities in boxing and links ethnography at a Sheffield gym that has produced some very well-known boxers, with an exploration of popular, media narratives about this particular performance of masculinities and the discursive location of boxing as a sport. It looks at the enactment of masculinities at a site that might appear to offer particularly essentialized and polarized versions of masculinity, race and class. It examines the ways in which men participate in boxing at a variety of levels and the interconnections between the public and the private stories that are told about men and boxing.
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