“In the early parts of the 20th century, boxing—and other ‘manly’ sports, like college football—helped calm the fears that for white men, ‘oversentimentality, oversoftness, … washiness and mushiness’ were grave dangers. At a time of increased foreign encounters, both at home and abroad, this softness and hesitancy prevented the country from fulfilling its self-appointed role atop the racial hierarchy that included the burden of civilizing the barbarous.”

This quote from Roberto José Andrade Franco’s Blog Post really encompasses the idea of countries, in this case, the U.S., grasping onto sport and transforming it into a means for expression of masculinity, national strength, and superiority (racial, cultural, etc.) over other nations.

While reading this brief but rich blog post, I drew two connections to the themes represented by the quote I pulled. First, I connected this story to that of Roberto Durán. Roosevelt’s embrace of boxing as a form of masculine expression of strength only until it left him vulnerable (the black eye and loss of sight, in his eyes, weren’t a good look for the president) reminded me a lot of Durán’s “No Mas” fight – the show of strength only served its purpose if it was creating an image of success. In both cases, it seems that the option that better served the image of a national figure of strength and masculinity was to publicly walk away from the sport than to publicly lose.

This blog post also rang familiar to the book chapter that my group read earlier on in the semester about Teddy Roosevelt’s embrace of football around this same time period. This article provided a little more insight, particularly from a racial perspective, as to how this embrace of sport as a means for the creation of a strong national identity really played out in the United States. Understanding that the sport of boxing was really only embraced when it could be considered “civilized” and white enough reveals more about what kind of identity was being created when sports like boxing and football were initially embraced as symbols for strength and masculinity in the U.S.