The Bittersweet Science: Racism, Racketeering and the Political Economy of Boxing

Gerald Horne



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.

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.

ISBN 9780717808298
List price $19.99
Publisher International Publishers
Year of publication 2020