Academic journal article American Studies

KNOCKOUT: The Boxer and Boxing in America Cinema

Academic journal article American Studies

KNOCKOUT: The Boxer and Boxing in America Cinema

Article excerpt

KNOCKOUT: The Boxer and Boxing in America Cinema. By Leger Grindon. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. 2012.

Film Studies scholar Leger Grindon's latest book Knockout is a masterful work about the history of boxing films since the 1930s. While other scholars like Aaron Baker and Dan Streible have done an excellent job of contextualizing boxing films, Knockout is the first book declaring boxing as a film genre. Like other genres, the boxing genre "portrays persistent social problems as dramatic conflicts" (4). Grindon effectively describes boxing films and situates them in their proper historical context while demonstrating how Americans have viewed the evolving challenges of race, class, and gender.

According to Grindon, the boxing film genre has three important cycles which reflect changes in American history. The first cycle, 1930-1942, explores workingclass masculinity and ethnic assimilation. Cycle two, 1946-1956, critiques the post- WWII market economy and deals with racial integration. The last cycle, 1975-1980, responds to Muhammad Ali as a culture icon and the crisis of masculinity created by the Vietnam War, a stagnate economy, and women and African Americans' struggles for equality. Grindon, however, does not believe a new cycle has arrived, and asserts that documentaries like When We Were Kings (1996) borrow from previous cycles.

Knockout successfully demonstrates how the genre responds to America's social problems. The dramatic conflicts the protagonist must face include the struggle between body and soul, the market-driven fight between individual competition and group cooperation, the problem minorities confront assimilating into mainstream society, a crisis of masculinity, and the inability to truly fight and defeat oppression. …

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