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Heavyweight : Black Boxers and the Fight for Representation - Jordana Moore Saggese

Heavyweight

Black Boxers and the Fight for Representation

By: Jordana Moore Saggese

Paperback | 23 August 2024

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In Heavyweight, Jordana Moore Saggese examines images of Black heavyweight boxers to map the visual terrain of racist ideology in the United States, paying particular attention to the intersecting discourses of Blackness, masculinity, and sport. Looking closely at the "shadow archive" of their portrayals across fine art, vernacular imagery, and public media at the turn of the twentieth century, Saggese demonstrates how the images of boxers reveal the racist stereotypes implicit in them, many of which continue to structure ideas of Black men today. With a focus on both anonymous fighters and notorious champions, including Jack Johnson, Saggese contends that popular images of these men provided white spectators a way to render themselves experts on Blackness and Black masculinity. These images became the blueprint for white conceptions of the Black male body--existing somewhere between fear and fantasy, simultaneously an object of desire and an instrument of brutal violence. Reframing boxing as yet another way whiteness establishes the violent mythology of its supremacy, Saggese highlights the role of imagery in normalizing a culture of anti-Blackness.
Industry Reviews
"In lucid yet lyrical prose, Heavyweight explores boxing's central role in the intersectional construction of US Blackness and masculinity at the turn of the twentieth century. Revisiting the now iconic imagery of the sport, from the photographic portraits of Black champion Peter Jackson to the fine art paintings of George Bellows, Jordana Moore Saggese not only bridges the divide between two normally disparate fields-critical sports studies and art history-but also offers strikingly fresh analyses." -- Theresa Runstedtler, author of * Black Ball: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, and the Generation That Saved the Soul of the NBA *
"Heavyweight is one of the most significant studies of the Black boxer as racial icon, sport icon, national icon and threat. Historically grounded and theoretically rich, Heavyweight offers insightful readings of legendary boxers, race relations, the rise of the sports industry, and the industry's connection to popular culture and international politics. Focusing on such as Ben Bailey and Peter Jackson, Saggese examines how race, labor, masculinity, and class interweave in the making of one of the most reviled and revered figure of the century: the Black heavyweight champion." -- Nicole R. Fleetwood, author of * Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration *

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