I really enjoyed this week’s reading, Sparring in the White House: Theodore Roosevelt, Race, and Boxing by Andrew McGregor. When you think about certain president’s, you don’t think about them playing games or exercising (at least I don’t). This wasn’t the case for President Theodore Roosevelt, as he was a boxing student-athlete with Harvard’s boxing club. Roosevelt also took in wrestling with his time at Harvard. After college Roosevelt continued with boxing, using it to stay physically active in the White House, until he was punched so hard that his left eye’s retina detached, losing his sight in that eye. This was news to me. Boxing began to get lots of criticism, especially after Jack Johnson won the heavyweight champion, becoming the first black to do so. Although you would think Roosevelt would support this part of history, he did the opposite. Until a year later when he invited lightweight champion Oscar “the battling nelson” Nielson, who was white, to the White House. Why not invite Johnson? This is where it became a race issue. W.E.B Bois, who was a contemporary of Johnson, stated “Neither he nor his race invented prize fighting or particularly like it. Why then this thrill of national disgust? Because Johnson is black…Wherefore we conclude that at present prize fighting is very, very immoral … until Mr. Johnson retires or permits himself to be ‘knocked out.” After Johnson lost his title to Jess Willard, Roosevelt soon supported boxing. Race riots led to six black individuals dying with others injured after Johnson’s victory. I really enjoyed this reading and news of boxing. Hopefully we have more readings regarding more contact sports like this and “Fighting Cholitas“.

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