An American History


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About the Book

This work brings a fresh perspective to the history of modern prizefighting, a sport which has evolved over several centuries to become one of mankind’s most lasting and valued sporting attractions. With his primary focus outside the ropes, the author shows how organizers, publicity agents, and political allies overcame both legal and moral roadblocks to make fisticuffing a lively commercial enterprise.
The book begins with the clandestine bare-knuckle fights in eighteenth-century London, and ends with the vibrant, large-scale productions of modern Las Vegas “fight nights.” Along the way, he explains many of the myths about antiquarian prizefighters, describes the origins of slave fight folklore, and examines the forces that transformed Las Vegas into the world’s leading venue for important fights.

About the Author(s)

The editor-in-chief of The Sweet Science on-line boxing magazine, Arne K. Lang taught sociology at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. A leading authority on the history of boxing and the history of American sports gambling, he lives and writes in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is his fifth book.

Bibliographic Details

Arne K. Lang
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 274
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020 [2008]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8367-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9244-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Noblemen and Knockabouts      5
2. Diffusion to America      15
3. The Queensberry Antiseptic      25
4. The Watershed Fight      30
5. The Boomtown Boxing Phenomenon      34
6. The War and the Walker Law      49
7. The Golden Era      55
8. Fighters’ Writers      63
9. Boxing and Jews      73
10. Hard Times and Hoaxes      89
11. Boxing and Blacks      96
12. Marcianomics      121
13. Floyd and Sonny      132
14. Tank Town Boxing in Las Vegas      139
15. The Doctor Makes a House Call      144
16. Las Vegas: The Transition Years      147
17. The Rise and Fall of Ali      154
18. Parking Lot Extravaganzas      166
19. The Iron Mike Express      177
20. Buster Craps Out      185
21. Mariachi Salsa      188
22. El Gran Campeón de Culiacan      194
23. Iron Mike II: Another Vegas Implosion      199
24. The Golden Boy      211
25. Lennox the Lion      218
26. The Wise Old Owl      224
27. Atomic Salsa      230
28. The “X” Factor      234
29. Shifting Sands      245

Chapter Notes      251
Bibliography      257
Index      261

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Recommended”—Choice
• “Excellent…outstanding…extremely well researched and referenced”—East Side Boxing
• “Outstanding…recommend[ed]”—
• “Well written”—Amatoboxing
• “A great job…excellent…a must-read”—
• “A pleasure to sit down with a well-written, painstakingly researched boxing book…I have seldom enjoyed a book on boxing as much as I did this one…written in the erudite fashion one would expect from a sociologist and teacher…written with love…most heartily recommend”—
• “A worthy addition…recommended”—
• “Throughout my life I have read several boxing history books. I am always seeking more knowledge of this brutal yet beautiful sport aptly called the ‘sweet science.’ The newly released boxing history book Prizefighting : An American History is best new book of this genre I have read in years. In fact it is among the best I have ever read. Author Arne K. Lang has done an outstanding job as he goes ‘outside the box’ in bringing to light the trials and tribulations of boxing’s humble beginnings and brings us up to speed as the sport now booms in Las Vegas as a multi-million dollar operation. In reviving the sports past history as well reviewing the recent events of the last decades. ‘Prizefighting’ is well written and the outstanding effort of the author’s research is apparent throughout the book. From the early days in jolly old England to the emergence of boxing as a popular sport in the United States, Lang serves up several slices of boxing’s rich heritage to the reader. The author brings to life some of boxing’s most influential participants like John L. Sullivan, Corbett, Jack Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Ali, Julio Cesar Chavez and more. There are various chapters on the impact of many ethnic groups who have broadened the landscape of the sport. In essence this book is a wonderful walk through spectrum of the sport. I recommend this book to fans young and old. You will not be disappointed.”—Jim Amato,