“Speaking to boxing’s popularity, acceptance, and fear that the upper-classes were going soft, elite universities instituted boxing programs. Theodore Roosevelt was one of these boxing student-athletes as part of Harvard’s boxing club”

I chose my first quote because I just found it funny in a way. The idea that the elite universities decided they needed boxing programs because the fear that they were going soft is just funny. They really went all in on a sport that not long before was seen as barbaric and illegal because they did not want to seem soft. I also found it interesting because I did not know Teddy started boxing in Harvard. I knew he was a big part of boxings history, but I thought he started when he was in the Navy.

Roosevelt became an important voice against boxing. In 1910, after Jack Johnson defeated Jim Jeffries, the latest of the so-called “Great White Hopes,” Roosevelt stated, “The last contest provoked a very unfortunate display of race antagonism. I sincerely trust that public sentiment will be so aroused, and will make itself felt so effectively, as to guarantee that this is the last prize-fight to take place in the United States.”

I find the second quote really interesting for two reasons. The first being that Teddy ended up being against boxing, and the second being his reason. I never really though about how boxing could be used for race antagonism, but it is not surprising. Sports have always been used for race antagonism like the previous article the Macaquitos Affair was about. My favorite thing about this class hasn’t been learning about sports themselves, but learning how they intersect with cultural, history and life, so seeing all the different angles of sports especially how they have been used racial has been interesting.

“Boxing has fallen into disfavor…The cause is clear: Jack Johnson…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.”

I think the final quote really sums up the racial antagonism issue at the time. W.E.B Du Bois sums it up best with his quote. Boxing was not a problem until a Black man comes into the scene and wins. Once people realized that a Black man can be on top and be the winner, then it becomes an issue. It even goes onto say “Du Bois’s words proved prophetic as a year after Johnson lost his title to Jess Willard, Roosevelt returned to advocating for boxing,” I think both quotes are important to the overall narrative of racial antagonism and really sum up how it was used during boxings early days. People truly could not stand or comprehend that a Black man could be better than a white man.