© 2018 David Crawford Jones

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Bellows' Lunchbox

As a child growing up near Washington, DC in the 1980s, my first memory of boxing came with the rise of Mike Tyson through the heavyweight division, culminating in his first championship in 1986. With a string of devastating knockouts, Tyson demonstrated the almost impossible dangers that fighters confronted when stepping into the ring, underscoring for me the breathtaking courage, bordering on insanity, that boxers accepted as the price for glory, fame, and renown. I realized even then, at a young age, that boxing was qualitatively different from other sports; in the succeeding decades I have come to see that perhaps boxing isn't even a sport at all but rather a part of what Joyce Carol Oates once called our collective "historical madness," a bloodlust that overrides the thin veneer of civilization that has cloaked the West in the age of capitalism. 

This perspective on boxing is captured in the paintings of George Bellows, particularly Both Members of This Club, a 1909 work that shows how boxing disfigures our humanity, both for the prizefighters who punish each other in the ring, and the audience that cheers them on outside of it. As an adult, I have come to realize that I, too, am a member of this club, and so I have started this blog in order to explore boxing's meaning in the era of late capitalism, the days of global warming and the War on Terror. If you love boxing, I hope you will like this blog, as I seek to understand the almost incalculable courage of all fighters, both great and mediocre, while also exploring the game's rich history and cultural resonance. If you dislike boxing, I hope you will like this blog as well, as I seek to grapple with the savagery of prizefighting, and what it can tell us about the world in the twenty-first century. Either way, thanks for reading.