The Boxing Kings
When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring
Rowman & Littlefield 2017
We are joined by Paul Beston, author of the book The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled The Ring (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.) Beston links together the long string of American heavyweight champions from the late 19th century until the 1990s, touching on the big names of John L Sullivan, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and the lesser known champions in between. We talk about what each figure meant in the time periods that they lived in, explore why Americans dominated the global sport for so long, and try to answer why the heavyweight belt has shifted so rapidly away from the United States over the last decades. Beston weaves the tales of each fighter’s life together to create a larger tapestry of the evolution of boxing over the late 19th and 20th centuries, which gives an insight to boxing’s cultural significance in American history.
James Robinson is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Northeastern University. He studies international sports history, and US in the world, with an emphasis on urban history and social movement history. He is working on his dissertation about American radicals in the interwar period who used sports as organizing tools. He can reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit jameswjrobinson.net