For my digital project I focused on the rise of Mexican boxing throughout the 20th to 21st century. Throughout this semester we focused on many themes and sports such as soccer, basketball, women’s physical appearance, equality, and fairness. So, I decided to switch it up and go with one of the best and known combat sport, boxing. Our class read just a small portion about boxing, with President Roosevelt being one of the main stars. Although it was American boxing, I chose to go with the passion of Mexican boxing. Mexican boxing began with a slow start but soon rose to become a national powerhouse. Today, if you take a look at the rankings you will see how many Mexican boxers are high up, while succeeding throughout their careers.

My topic was surrounded about the history of Mexican boxing. Some argue Mexican boxing did not turn out the way it needed to be, but I disagree. I believe Mexican boxing was built from the ground up, becoming much larger than expected. Boxers such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, and Canelo Alveraz have made a mark in how Mexican boxing has become so popular. These boxers not only made their mark, but were great champions. Julio Chavez is considered one of the greatest Mexican and overall boxers in history.

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This week’s readings Borderball with Club Tijuana and Bolivian Ball both had some cool details about each other while featuring culture differences. Borderball with Club Tijuana, by Alicia Rodriguez is an interesting read about a soccer club in Tijuana, Mexico. This soccer club, club Tijuana, has a rich traditional and short history from their amazing soccer debut. Xolos (team name) gained entry to the second division, winning the promotion of top-flight Liga MX in 2011. They started strong, reaching the playoffs in just their second season, following a deep run capturing the league title in their third season in 2012. This club had many differences, but the one that stood out was the fan base and culture outside of the game. This club is located Tijuana, which is right below the US-Mexico border. San Diego is well known for their fans that drive down to Tijuana, which is roughly 30-45 minutes away. This American support has changed the way this club has functioned and grown throughout the years. The way they provide shops, supporting these Americans at their games, and the way they set up both English and Spanish languages and players on their team is very cool. They even set up twitter accounts, both in Spanish and English. Although this club is based on Tijuana, Mexico, it doesn’t mean their team is fully Hispanic. The mix of Mexicans, Americans, and other foreigners shows the relationships and welcoming this club provides. Bolivian Ball, by Eduardo Leal, is about American basketball player’s who traveled from the US to Bolivia to pursue their basketball dreams. Travis Dupree is from Eastman, Georgia, who attended Voorhees College, in South Carolina. Much changed after moving to Bolivia. Throughout the article it states how Dupree wasn’t comfortable with the elevation differences, almost 14,000 ft in altitude, forcing him to lose 30 pounds. Dupree mentions how different the game of basketball was from the US style to the Bolivian way. More everything, dribbling, teamwork, and according to Dupree “they used to pass the ball to the Americans and wait for us to score. Now it’s a bit different, but still they love to see us dunk. No Bolivians dunk.” It’s crazy how so much can change, and how other foreign players view American athletes, and why they do so. American basketball is obviously one of, if not, the top country for basketball so maybe this is a reason why others view Americans so well.

Elsey, Brenda, and Joshua H. Nadel. Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2019.

Fubolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America is a book about women who struggled throughout much of their lives, without support from local communities and leaders in sports, relationships, education, and social opportunities in general. Esley and Nadel explored the lives of women in Latin America during the second half of the nineteenth century, including gendered expectations and sexuality development. From the beginning, they state that the book “focuses on the relationships of women to civic associations, including sports clubs, physical education teams, or union leagues, and the significance that sports have in women’s lives.” Women were underappreciated, which meant overcoming adversity throughout much of the twentieth century. [“Futbolera” is a way to refer to a woman or girl who plays football (soccer).]

            The beginning chapters of this book start with a talk about physical education and women’s sports in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. Women throughout this time encouraged governments to have a better way of advancing women’s health. In the first chapter, we are introduced to a woman by the name of Juana Gremler, who worked for a girl’s school, where she requested funds to go towards physical education. Gremler’s actions and future hopes asked for one thing, and that was for change through the curriculum, “Gremler’s curriculum prioritized physical education because she believed that in addition to physical health, it built moral fortitude.” This alone allows you to get the feeling of how this book flows, and how it can connect to certain individuals.  I enjoyed the rise of women’s sport throughout the book. On page 192, it describes how Mexican women’s soccer erupted, “Women’s football exploded in the late 1960s, not only in Mexico City but also all around the country.” Throughout the book, you are left with such suspense on what is going to happen next, but once you find out that these women are on the rise, you feel complete. This rise gave opportunities and hope for physical education teachers and journalists, on page 192, “Journalists and physical education teachers saw an opportunity to create institutions around this energy.” Men began to support this trend, “Few supportive men began to set the groundwork for a women’s football league around the capital, and within two years the numbers of leagues grew.” Elsey and Nadel’s work help understand the growth and development of women’s sports and role throughout the 19th century.

After reading Futbolera, it will leave you in different spots on how to rate this book. Personally, I really enjoyed reading it but left me in a frustrated type mood. It left me this way because of the enjoyment of learning new things about women’s social history, but also the hate to hear what those women went through. This is what I dislike about the book. It gives you so much to feel and think about and makes me believe it is one of the book’s weaknesses. I would like others to read and give feedback on how they feel about Futbolera because I’m still stuck. Although there are points of the book where I feel are weak, there are other aspects of the book I enjoyed. I enjoyed the extended research these authors provided. Futbolera doesn’t just provide the outline of how female athletes in Latin America, but shows the grit and struggle these women went through. It is very well written, helping readers understand the past of the controlling of women’s bodies. Futbolera contains great research that embodies so much. This book should be available to students and soccer fans. The historical information given by the authors helps readers understand the past, allowing women to get past being speechless. Latin America is known for their countries’ great history in sports, but women’s restriction to do as they please and have the funds for physical education is shortened before they know it.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves sports and the history of Latin American women. It gives an inside of what female athletes went through, and how they overcame obstacles. Although I am not a huge soccer fan, this book, Futbolera, allows an easier reading, while finding it engaging. The chapters go through different countries and their use of women’s competition through life and sports with arguments that the book has. One argument would be that women still have unequal treatment. It was a problem in the nineteenth century, and still is to this day. It makes you wonder why women have had unequal opportunities and moments since then, and how it hasn’t changed throughout history. Overall, Futbolera is a great book. Women were crucial to the development and scene of sports clubs in Latin America, especially through the history of futbol clubs.

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“.

This weeks readings were very interesting and cool to learn about. Flying, Flirting, and Flexing: Charmion’s Trapeze Act , Sexuality, and Physical Culture at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, by Bieke Gils, and We Were Ladies, We Just Played Like Boys: African American Women and Competitive Basketball at Bennett College, 1928-1942, by Patrick Miller. Flying, Flirting, and Flexing was my favorite to read about. It was about a woman named Lavarie Vallee, who was very popular artist for using the trapeze bar. Vallee, or “Charmion” was filled with fame for her moves, body, and her desire to change how women were viewed. Her muscular body caught many individuals attention, gasping for her entertainment and looks. She was considered really beautiful and attractive, but her body kept her back and seen as weird/strange. Charmion knew her body could catch this attention so she took advantage,  disrobing before events, providing her view. It was frown upon, as women during this time had much of their body covered up, with no say. I did not know Charmion was very muscular until our zoom call. I continued to look through google and other websites to come upon many pictures of her spectacular build. It makes me think of how women today feel about this topic. For example, Serena Williams is a very athletic and great athlete, but she known for her strong and powerful style of play. The criticism she takes goes out of this world, with many people judging her for her broad shoulders and arms.  Although women have a hard time pleasing others for their appearance, it doesn’t take away the fact that they are great athletes and humans. 

This weeks readings were very similar with one another, involving race and identity. One reading was in chapter 7 of the book Sports Culture in Latin American History. Our reading in chapter 7 was very catchy and interesting to me, due to it being related to boxing. The chapter started off describing Andres Escobar, a national figure on the Colombian national soccer- team, and his violent death. I was unaware it was going to start off this way, but it definitely eye-opening. Chapter 7 was about boxing in the early 1900’s, mainly the 1930’s, consisting of certain black boxers, and their role of growing the sport. One boxer was Antonio Cervantes, or as others would call him “Kid Pambele”, who was a very popular person in Columbia. Boxing was growing, especially on the coast, where famous boxers such as Jose “Chocolate Cartagenero” Carreazo and Jose “Kid Dunlop” were produced. Cervantes was Columbia’s first boxing national champion, keeping the title for almost a decade. Race was involved throughout this chapter regarding the hardships black boxers had to go through. Being called names, and overcoming obstacles because of one’s race was tough for these fighters. Mid-chapter it talked about the physical nature of national identity and movement in nations. For example, it says “Today, more Puerto Ricans live outside Puerto Rico than on the island, breaking down an old association of the national with the insular.”, and  how the palenqueros identity cannot be quantified demographically.

Week Six

The history of sports has been full of surprises, new beginnings, and well.. now pandemics. Sports can be described and seen in many ways, but we only know from what is talked about everyday. We don’t know what is deep down in the record books. We don’t know who was the best or worse when sports started to get popular. Why not? Most people only want to know about the basics, who won last year, five years ago. It is mind blowing to see how one country can be identified for their sport, but even crazier how one’s past can be erased. After reading these articles I was surprised to see how some sports started up, but even more surprised for the actual results. 

This week I really enjoyed reading all three articles which all regard something new. One I enjoyed the most was “Pastor Keeps History of Storied U.S. Club Bethlehem Steel Alive by Stanley Kay, which was about one of the most successful soccer programs in the early 1900s. Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club was a unique soccer club that were apart of many championships and wins. But, who were they? A Pennsylvania pastor named Daniel Paul Morrison has helped identify just who this club was. An unofficial historian of the Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club, Morrison, has found great research of this team and their past. Growing up, Morrison knew very little of his uncles, Bobby and Joe, who had played for soccer for a team in Bethlehem. It made Morrison itch to find out more about his ancestors, so he went deeper. Morrison was shocked to find out the result of his research. His uncles played for this team, with one (Bobby) being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club was a powerhouse. Racking up titles, which included U.S. Open Cups, and league championships. This club was different. I’m not the biggest soccer fan but this sure is interesting. How crazy is it to know that we are JUST now learning about this team. It makes me wonder about any other powerhouse team that has been left in the dust even if it isn’t soccer. Morrison should be very satisfied with his time during this research. 

Another article I found interesting was 1934: USA vs. Mexico and the “little truck” by Ed Farnsworth. I found it really cool that the United States had played and beat Mexico in the 1934  World Cup. Although they would not defeat Mexico again for another 46 years, the US had one hell of a time then. I think it’s really cool to learn about new things regarding sports, especially those that have been forgotten. This weeks reading was very easy and enjoyable to go through. Optimistically, I hope this isn’t the end of learning about the few powerhouses and teams that have been forgotten throughout history. 

Hello! My name is Ramón Rodriguez and I am a second semester junior here at App State. I am a History/Social Studies Ed major so my passion for history goes a long way. Before wanting to major in history I always dreamed of becoming a Chiropractor, butttttt I decided to go with my gut and enter the teaching world. I am excited about this class because I love sports. I am on the wrestling team here at App State, so sports surround my life and schedule. I enjoy watching football, basketball, and MMA. I am also a huge Carmelo Anthony and Lionel Messi fan. I can’t wait to learn more about the history of sports!