Based upon exhaustive research in court records, memoirs, the files of the New York State Athletic Commissions and related bodies from Nevada to New Jersey – not to mention the gangster venues from garish Las Vegas to venal South Philadelphia, this pioneering work tells the untold story of the grimy intersection of racism and racketeering in boxing. Revealing previously unrecorded stories of punchers from Jack Johnson to Joe Louis to Sugar Ray Robinson to Muhammad Ali, Horne also details a fascinating story of the waxing and waning of anti-Semitism. Toxic masculinity and other offshoots (including homophobia) are a major theme of this book and the author does not neglect women boxers–and wrestlers too—whose skills were honed in day-to-day battles with the pestilence that is male supremacy.
An intriguing chapter concerns–ironically–the mob’s chief executive in boxing in the 1950s, when profits piled up because of television broadcasts: Truman Gibson, a Negro, became the “fall guy”, however, when a scapegoat was needed to take the blame for the fixed fights, the murderous attacks on those who refused to cooperate and the broken lives of what amounted to desperate workers eager to make a buck to support their starving families.
This book traces the story of Black dominance in the sport, from fighting enslavers in Africa, through the brutal “battle royals” of slavery when enslaved men were placed in a ring blindfolded and forced to fight until one man was left standing, while, at the same time, it exposes the gross exploitation of fighters and the gargantuan profits garnered by the likes of Don King, Bob Arum–and a former Atlantic City casino poseur named Donald J. Trump.