American Journal of Sociology

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Date: 1952

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3

Cultures and Subcultures

KirsonS.Weinbergn/an/an/an/a and Henryn/aArondn/an/an/an/a

The Occupational Culture of the Boxer1

Herein is described the culture of the professional boxer as discovered by personal experience, by reading of firsthand literature, and by interview with sixty-eight boxers and former boxers, seven trainers, and five managers.2 The aspects covered are recruitment, practices and beliefs, and the social structure of the boxing world.

RECRUITMENT

Professional boxers are adolescents and young men. Nearly all are of low socioeconomic background. Only two of our fighters might possibly have been of middle-class family. Most are immigrants to the city and are children of such. Their residences at the time of becoming boxers are distributed like the commoner forms of social disorganization, being almost all near the center of the city. Nearly all Chicago boxers lived on the Near South and Near West sides. There is an ethnic succession of boxers which corresponds to that of the ethnic groups in these areas. First Irish, then Jewish, then Italian, were most numerous among prominent boxers; now, Negroes (Table 1).

TABLE 1 RANK ORDER OF NUMBER OF PROMINENT BOXERS OF VARIOUS ETHNIC GROUPS FOR CERTAIN YEARS*

The traditions of an ethnic group, as well as its temporary location at the bottom of the scale, may affect the proportion of its boys who become boxers. Many Irish, but few Scandinavians, have become boxers in this country; many Filipinos, but very few Japanese and Chinese.

The juvenile and adolescent culture of the lower socioeconomic levels provides a base for the boxing culture. Individual and gang fights are encouraged. The best fighter is often the most admired, as well as the most feared, member of a gang. A boy who lacks status tries to get it and to restore his self-esteem by fighting.3 Successful amateur and professional boxers furnish highly visible role-models to the boys of the slum; this is especially so among urban Negroes at present. Since he has otherwise little hope of any but unskilled, disagreeable work, the boxing way to money and prestige may appear very attractive. As an old-time manager put it, "Where else can a poor kid get a stake as fast as he can in boxing?"

Since the ability to fight is a matter of status among one’s peers, is learned in play, and is the accepted means of expressing hostility and settling disputes, boys learn to fight early.

One fighter thought of becoming a boxer at the age of ten, because he could not participate in team games as a child; his mother insisted that he had a "bad heart." He stated: "I tried to fight as soon as I got old enough, to be the roughest, toughest kid on the block." He fought so frequently and was arrested so often for fighting that one policeman told him that he might as well get paid for it. At the age of fourteen he participated in fights in vacant lots in the neighborhood. Because of his prowess as a fighter, the other boys in the neighborhood began to respect him more, and he began to associate status with fighting. When he was about seventeen, an amateur fighter told him about a gymnasium where he could learn to become a "ring fighter" instead of a "street fighter." He claimed: "I love fighting. I would rather fight than eat."

Most boxers seem to have been influenced to become "ring fighters" by a boxer in the neighborhood or by a member of the family. One middleweight champion claimed that he "took after" his brother, followed him to the gymnasium, imitated him, and thus decided to be a boxer before he was fifteen years old. Another fighter was inspired by a neighbor and became his protégé. He continually followed his hero to the gymnasium and learned to fight himself. Eventually the neighbor induced his manager to take his protégé into the stable. A third fighter has stated:

I was twelve when I went to the gym first. If there’s a fighter in the neighborhood, the kids always look up to him because they think he’s tough. There was an amateur in my neighborhood and he was a kind of hero to all us kids. It was him that took me to the gym the first time.

A former welterweight and middleweight champion who has been boxing since he was eleven years old has written in a similar vein:

I didn’t do any boxing before I left Detroit. I was too little. But I was already interested in it, partly because I idolized a big Golden Gloves heavyweight who lived on the same block with us. I used to hang around the Brewster Center Gym all the time watching him train. His name was Joe Louis. Whenever Joe was in the gym so was I. He was my idol then just like he is today. I’ve always wanted to be like him.

Some managers and trainers of local gymnasiums directly seek out boys who like to fight and who take fighters as their models. One such manager says that he sought boys who were considered the "toughest in the block" or "natural fighters." He would get them to come to the gym and to become amateur boxers. He entered some in tournaments, from which he received some "cut," then sifted out the most promising for professional work.

It is believed by many in boxing circles that those in the lower socioeconomic levels make the "best fighters":

They say that too much education softens a man and that is why the college graduates are not good fighters. They fight emotionally on the gridiron and they fight bravely and well in our wars, but their contributions in our rings have been insignificant. The ring has been described as the refuge of the under-privileged. Out of the downtrodden have come our greatest fighters. … An education is an escape, and that is what they are saying when they shake their heads—those who know the fight game—as you mention the name of a college fighter. Once the bell rings, they want their fighters to have no retreat, and a fighter with an education is a fighter who does not have to fight to live and he knows it.… Only for the hungry fighter is it a decent gamble.

It can be inferred tentatively that the social processes among juveniles and adolescents in the lower socioeconomic levels, such as individual and gang fights, the fantasies of "easy money," the lack of accessible vocational opportunities, and the general isolation from the middle-class culture, are similar for those who become professional boxers as for those who become delinquents. The difference resides in the role-model the boy picks, whether criminal or boxer. The presence of one or several successful boxers in an area stimulates boys of the same ethnic groups to follow in their footsteps. Boxing, as well as other sports and certain kinds of entertainment, offers slum boys the hope of quick success without deviant behavior (although, of course, some boxers have been juvenile delinquents).

Within the neighborhood the professional boxer orients his behavior and routine around the role of boxer. Usually acquiring some measure of prestige in the neighborhood, he is no longer a factory hand or an unskilled laborer. He is admired, often has a small coterie of followers, and begins to dress smartly and loudly and to conceive of himself as a neighborhood celebrity, whether or not he has money at the time. Nurtured by the praise of the trainer or manager, he has hopes that eventually he will ascend to "big-time fights" and to "big money." The money that he does make in his amateur and early professional fights by comparison with his former earnings seems a lot to him.

OCCUPATIONAL CULTURE OF THE BOXER

The intrinsic occupational culture of the boxer is composed of techniques, illusions, aspirations, and structured roles which every boxer internalizes in some measure and which motivate him both inside and outside the ring. At the outset of his career the boxer becomes impressed with the need for training to improve his physical condition and to acquire the skills necessary to win fights and to avoid needless injury. When he has such status as to be sought out by promoters, he assigns a specified interval for training before the bout. But in the preliminary ranks he must keep himself in excellent physical shape most of the time, because he does not know when he will be summoned to fight. He may be booked as a substitute and cannot easily refuse the match. If he does, he may find it difficult to get another bout. The particular bout may be the chance he has been hoping for. The fighter is warned persistently by tales of the ritualistic necessity of "getting in shape" and of the dire consequences if he does not. "There is no more pitiable sight," stated one boxer, "than to see a fighter get into the ring out of condition."

The boxer comes to regard his body, especially his hands, as his stock-in-trade. Boxers have varied formulas for preventing their hands from excess swelling, from excessive pain, or from being broken. This does not mean a hypochondriacal interest, because they emphasize virility and learn to slough off and to disdain punishment. But fighters continually seek nostrums and exercises for improving their bodies. One practiced Yogi, another became a physical cultist, a third went on periodic fasts; others seek out lotions, vitamins, and other means of improving their endurance, alertness, and punching power.

"You have to live up to being a fighter." This phrase justifies their deprivations and regulated living. There is also a cult of a kind of persevering courage, called a "fighting heart," which means "never admitting defeat." The fighter learns early that his exhibited courage—his ability, if necessary, to go down fighting— characterizes the respected, audience-pleasing boxer. He must cherish the lingering hope that he can win by a few more punches. One fighter was so severely beaten by another that the referee stopped the bout. The brother of the beaten fighter, a former fighter himself, became so outraged that he climbed into the ring and started to brawl with the referee. In another instance a boxer incurred a very severe eye injury, which would have meant the loss of his sight. But he insisted on continuing to fight, despite the warnings of his seconds. When the fight was stopped, he protested. This common attitude among boxers is reinforced by the demands of the spectators, who generally cheer a "game fighter." Thus the beaten fighter may become a "crowd-pleaser" and may get matches despite his defeat. On the other hand, some fighters who are influenced by friends, by wives, or by sheer experience recognize that sustained beatings may leave permanent injuries and voluntarily quit when they are beaten. But the spirit of the code is that the boxer continue to fight regardless of injuries. "If a man quits a fight, an honest fight," claimed one fighter, "he has no business there in the first place."

Fighters who remain in the sport are always hopeful of occupational climbing. This attitude may initially be due to a definite self-centeredness, but it is intensified by the character of boxing. Boxing is done by single contestants, not by teams. Emphasis is on the boxer as a distinct individual. The mores among boxers are such that fighters seldom admit to others that they are "punchy" or "washed-up." One fighter said: "You can tell another fighter to quit, but you can’t call him punchy. If you do, he’ll punch you to show you he still has a punch." He has to keep up his front.

Further, the boxer is involved in a scheme of relationships and traditions which focus upon building confidence. The boxing tradition is full of legends of feats of exceptional fighters. Most gymnasiums have pictures of past and present outstanding boxers on the wall, and identification with them comes easy for the incoming fighters. Past fights are revived in tales. Exceptional fighters of the past and present are compared and appraised. Second, the individual boxer is continually assured and reassured that he is "great" and that he is "coming up." As a result, many fighters seem to overrate their ability and to feel that all they need are "lucky breaks" to become champions or leading contenders. Many get self-important and carry scrapbooks of their newspaper write-ups and pictures.

The process of stimulating morale among fighters is an integral accompaniment of the acquisition of boxing skills and body conditioning. The exceptions are the part-time fighters who hold outside jobs and who are in the preliminary ranks. They tend to remain on the periphery of the boxing culture and thus have a somewhat different perspective on the mobility aspects of the sport.

Since most bouts are unpredictable, boxers usually have superstitions which serve to create confidence and emotional security among them. Sometimes the manager or trainer uses these superstitions to control the fighter. One fighter believed that, if he ate certain foods, he was sure to win, because these foods gave him strength. Others insist on wearing the same robe in which they won their first fight: one wore an Indian blanket when he entered the ring. Many have charm pieces or attribute added importance to entering the ring after the opponent. Joe Louis insisted on using a certain dressing-room at Madison Square Garden. Some insist that, if a woman watches them train, it is bad luck. One fighter, to show he was not superstitious, would walk under a ladder before every fight, until this became a magical rite itself. Consistent with this attitude, many intensify their religious attitudes and keep Bibles in their lockers. One fighter kept a rosary in his glove. If he lost the rosary, he would spend the morning before the fight in church. Although this superstitious attitude may be imported from local or ethnic culture, it is intensified among the boxers themselves, whether they are white or Negro, preliminary fighters or champions.

When a fighter likes the style, punch, or movement of another fighter, he may wear the latter’s trunks or one of his socks or rub him on the back. In training camps some fighters make a point of sleeping in the bed that a champion once occupied. For this reason, in part, some take the names of former fighters. All these practices focus toward the perspective of "filling the place" or taking the role of the other esteemed fighter. Moreover, many fighters deliberately copy the modes of training, the style, and the general movements of role-models.

Since fighters, in the process of training, become keyed to a finely balanced physical and emotional condition and frequently are irritable, restless, and anxious, they also grow dependent and suggestible. The superstitions and the reassuring statements of the trainer and manager both unwittingly and wittingly serve to bolster their confidence.

Before and during the bout, self-confidence is essential. Fighters or their seconds try to unnerve the opponent. They may try to outstare him or may make some irritating or deflating remarks or gestures. In the ring, tactical self-confidence is expressed in the boxer’s general physical condition and movements. His ability to outslug, to outspar, or to absorb punishment is part of his morale. The ability not to go down, to outmaneuver the other contestant, to change his style in whole or in part, to retrieve his strength quickly, or to place the opponent off-balance inevitably affect the latter’s confidence. A fighter can feel whether he will win a bout during the early rounds, but he is always wary of the dreaded single punch or the unexpected rally.

Boxers become typed by their style and manner in the ring. A "puncher" or "mauler" differs from a "boxer" and certainly from a "cream puff," who is unable to hit hard. A "miller," or continual swinger, differs from one who saves his energy by fewer movements. A "butcher" is recognized by his tendency to hit hard and ruthlessly when another boxer is helpless, inflicting needless damage. A "tanker" is one who goes down easily, sometimes in a fixed fight or "set-up." The "mechanical" fighter differs from the "smart" fighter, for among the "smart" fighters are really the esteemed fighters, those who are capable of improvising and reformulating their style, of devising original punches and leg movements, of cunningly outmaneuvering their opponents, and of possessing the compensatory hostility, deadly impulsiveness, and quick reflexes to finish off their opponents in the vital split second.

Boxers have to contend with fouls and quasi-fouls in the ring. At present, these tactics seemingly are becoming more frequent. They may have to contend with "heeling," the maneuver by which the fighter, during clinches, shoves the laced part of his glove over the opponent’s wound, particularly an "eye" wound, to open or exacerbate it, with "thumbing" in the eye, with "butting" by the head, with having their insteps stepped on hard during clinches, with punches in back of the head or in the kidneys, or with being tripped. These tactics, which technically are fouls may be executed so quickly and so cleverly that the referee does not detect them. When detected, the fighter may be warned or, at worst, may lose the round. The boxers are thus placed in a situation fraught with tension, physical punishment, and eventual fatigue. They may be harassed by the spectators. Their protection consists of their physical condition and their acquired confidence. Moreover, the outcome of the fight is decisive for their status and self-esteem.

The boxer’s persistent display of aggression is an aspect of status. Thus his aggression becomes impersonal, although competition is intense. Thus two boxers may be friends outside the ring, but each will try to knock the other out in a bout, and after the bout they may be as friendly as competition permits. Furthermore, the injury done to an opponent, such as maiming or killing, is quickly rationalized away by an effective trainer or manager in order to prevent an access of intense guilt, which can ruin a fighter. The general reaction is that the opponent is out to do the same thing to him and that this is the purpose of boxing: namely, to beat the opponent into submission. The exception is the "grudge fight," in which personal hostility is clearly manifest.

In a succession of bouts, if the fighter is at all successful, he goes through a fluctuating routine, in which tension mounts during training, is concentrated during the fight, and is discharged in the usual celebration, which most victorious fighters regard as their inevitable reward. Hence many boxers pursue a fast tempo of living and spend lavishly on clothes, women, gambling, and drink, practices seemingly tolerated by the manager and encouraged by the persons who are attracted to boxers. Many boxers experience intense conflict between the ordeals of training and the pursuits of pleasure.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND SOCIAL MOBILITY

Boxers comprise a highly stratified occupation. Rank is determined by their rating in a weight division, by their position in a match, and by their status with stablemates who have the same manager. Annually, for each weight division, fighters are ranked. The champion and about twenty leading contenders are listed on top. The other fighters are listed into "A," "B," and "C" categories. Many local preliminary fighters are not listed. Only the first twenty contenders and the "A" category seem to have any importance. Of 1,831 fighters listed for 1950, 8.8 per cent comprised the champion and leading contenders; 16.9 per cent were in the "A" category; 74.3 per cent were in the "B" and "C" categories.

To determine the vertical mobility of fighters, the careers of 127 fighters were traced from 1938 onward. Of these, 107, or 84.2 per cent, remained in the local preliminary or semiwindup category. Eleven boxers, or 8.7 per cent, became local headliners, which may be in the "A" category. They had been professional boxers for an average of almost eight years. Eight boxers, or 7.1 per cent, achieved national recognition, that is, among the first ten leading contenders. They also had been professionals for an average of almost eight years. One fighter became the champion after twelve years in the ring.

The boxers who remain in the sport believe that they can ascend to the top because of the character of the boxing culture, in which the exceptional boxer is emphasized and with whom the aspiring boxer identifies. When the boxer ceases to aspire, he quits or becomes a part-time boxer. Yet the aspiring hopes of many boxers are not unfounded, because climbing in the sport does not depend upon ability only and also can be a result of a "lucky break."

RELATIONSHIPS OF THE BOXER

Boxers live in a wide social milieu of trainers, managers, and promoters. The boxer and trainer usually form the closest relationships in the boxing milieu. At one time, many managers were trainers, too; and a few owners of local gymnasiums still combine these roles, but their number has declined. Furthermore, the relationships between boxer and trainer are becoming increasingly impersonal. Consequently, the careful training and social intimacy which characterized the conditioning of many boxers by trainers in the past has also declined.

Generally, the specialized trainer or trainer-manager represents the authority-figure to the boxer, transmits boxing skills to him, and becomes his anchor point of emotional security. The trainer’s relationship with the boxer becomes crucial to his development. The effective trainer polishes his skills, compels him to train regularly, and distracts him from worrying about the fight, and he can control him by withdrawing praise or can restore his morale when he has lost. For example, a trainer reviewed a lost fight to his charge so skilfully that the boxer began to believe that his opponent had won by a few lucky punches. Had he averted these "lucky" punches, the fighter felt that he would have won. His confidence restored, he renewed his training with added vigor and determination.

The trainer may be of distinct help to the boxer during the bout. Frequently his "second," he may advise him of his opponent’s weaknesses and of his own faults. In addition, he can be a continuing source of confidence to the fighter. A fighter recalled that before a bout his trainer became ill. He felt alone and somewhat diffident when the fight began. He regained his confidence in the third round, when he felt that his opponent could not hurt him. Since the trainer can become so emotionally close to the fighter, he can help or hinder him, depending upon his insight and knowledge of boxing. Though very important to the fighter, the trainer is not a powerful figure in the boxing hierarchy, and some trainers are as exploited as are fighters by the managers.

One boxer has characterized managers as follows: "Some managers are interested in the money first and in the man second; other managers are interested in the man first." Our observations lead us to infer that the vast majority of managers at the present time are in the first category. They regard boxing as a business and the fighter as a commodity and are concerned mainly with making money. To do so, they are compelled to please the promoters and to sell their fighters’ abilities to the promoters. Unless the manager is also a trainer, he is not concerned with the techniques of boxing, except to publicize his charge and to arrange matches which will bring the most revenue.

While the boxer devotes his aggressions to training and fighting, the manager slants his aggressions to machinations for better matches and for more money. Having few illusions about the fight business, acquainted with and often accepting its seamier side, he conforms to the standard managerial pattern of having the advantage over "his" boxers in every way. First, managers are organized into a guild, and, though some managers will try to steal boxers from one another, they usually bar fighters who run out on managers. (One boxer, on the other hand, tried to organize fighters into a union. His efforts were squelched quickly, and he was informally blackballed from fighting in New York City.) Second, many managers try to keep their fighters financially and, if possible, emotionally tied to them. Some managers will encourage fighters to borrow money from them and usually will not discourage them from squandering their earnings. One manager stated characteristically: "It’s good to have a fighter ’in you’ for a couple of bucks." By having fighters financially indebted to them, they have an easy expedient for controlling individuals who are unusually headstrong. Some fighters are in the continual process of regarding every fight as an essential means for clearing their debts.

Legally managers cannot receive more than one-third of the fighters’ purses, but many do not conform to this rule. Frequently, they take one-half the purse, or they may put their fighters on a flat salary and get the rest. Some managers tell their preliminary fighters that the purse was less than it was actually and thus keep the rest for themselves.

Furthermore, many managers abuse their fighters so as to make money quickly. They may overmatch them with superior fighters, "rush" them into too many fights, force them to fight when they are out of condition, and hint that the fight is "fixed" and instruct them indirectly to lose. A few managers will match their fighters in another state when they are barred in one state because of injuries; they will obtain matches before the required sixty days have elapsed after their fighters have been knocked out. Fighters may be severely hurt, even ruined, by these tactics.

Some managers, however, are concerned mainly with building up their fighters and doing everything possible to develop their maximum ability; but these managers are in the minority. In short, managers have no informal standards to protect their boxers and are guided chiefly by their own personal considerations in these activities.

Since many ruthless individuals and petty racketeers who know little about boxing are increasingly drawn into this sport with the prime purpose of making money quickly, boxers tend to have little, if any, protection from managers except that provided by boxing commissions, whose rules can be evaded without difficulty. Moreover, it is extremely difficult for a boxer to climb or get important matches unless he has an effective manager.

THE BOXER AND THE PROMOTER

The boxer’s relationship with the promoter is usually indirect. Yet the promoter is the most influential person in the boxing hierarchy. He is primarily a showman and businessman, emotionally removed from the fighter, and regards him chiefly as a commodity. His aim is to get the most from his investment. Thus the "show" comes first, regardless of the boxer’s welfare. To insure his direct control over many boxers, the promoter, who legally cannot be a manager, may appoint one or a series of "managers" as "fronts" and thus get shares of many boxers’ earnings, as well as controlling them. Furthermore, he can reduce the amount of the fighter’s share because the nominal manager will not bargain for a larger share. In effect, most boxers are relatively helpless in dealing with promoters, especially at the present time, because of the monopolistic character of boxing.

When a potentially good fighter wants to meet leading contenders, the manager may have to "cut in" the promoter or "cut in" some other manager who has connections with the promoter. Thus the mobility of the fighter depends in large part upon the manager’s relationship to the promoter. When the manager does not have this acceptable relationship and is unwilling to "cut in" a third party, he will not get the desired matches.

Since the promoter is concerned primarily with attracting a large audience, he tries to select and develop fighters who will draw customers. Thus the fighter must have "crowd-pleasing" qualifications in addition to ability. In this connection, the race and ethnic group play a part. A good white fighter is preferred to a good Negro fighter; and in large cities, such as New York and Chicago, a Jewish fighter is considered highly desirable because the majority of fight fans are Jewish and Italian. Despite the efforts of promoters to attract white fighters, especially Jewish fighters, few Jewish fighters have emerged because the role-models and practices in the local Jewish communities have changed. Even Negro fighters, despite their dominance of the sport in quality and quantity of fighters, are increasingly turning to other sports because the role-models are slowly shifting.

The fighter whom a promoter does select for grooming can easily be made mobile once he has shown crowd-pleasing tendencies. He can be, as it were, "nursed" to the top by being matched with opponents who are easy to beat or by meeting "set-ups" who are instructed to lose. Thus he builds up an impressive record and is ready for big-time fights. Hence, it is difficult to tell how competent a fighter is on his early record alone, for his record may be designed for publicity purposes. When a fighter has won all or nearly all of his early matches and then loses repeatedly to leading contenders, he has been "nursed" to the top by the promoter, unless the fighter has incurred an injury in one of his later fights. In these ways the promoter can influence decisively the occupational career of the boxer.

EFFECT UPON THE BOXER

The punitive character of boxing, as well as the social relationships in the boxing milieu, affects the boxer-participants during and after their careers in the ring.

First, the physical effects of boxing, which are intrinsic to the sport, operate to the boxer’s detriment. Although boxers may cultivate strong bodies, the direct and indirect injuries from this sport are very high. In addition to the deaths in the ring, one estimate is that 60 per cent of the boxers become mildly punch-drunk and 5 per cent become severely punch-drunk. The severely punch-drunk fighter can be detected by an ambling gait, thickened or retarded speech, mental stereo-typy, and a general decline in efficiency. In addition, blindness and visual deficiency are so pervasive that eye injuries are considered virtually as occupational casualties, while misshaped noses and cauliflower ears are afflictions of most boxers who are in sport for five or more years. Despite these injuries, attempts to provide safeguards, such as headguards, have been opposed by the fans and by many boxers because such devices presumably did not "protect" and did not fit into their conceptions of virility and presumed contempt for punishment.

Second, the boxing culture tends to work to the eventual detriment of the boxer. Many boxers tend to continue a particular fight when they are hopelessly beaten and when they can become severely injured. Many boxers persist in fighting when they have passed their prime and even when they have been injured. For example, one boxer, blind in one eye and barred from fighting in one state, was grateful to his manager for getting him matches in other states. Another old-time boxer has admitted characteristically: "It’s hard to quit. Fighting gets into your blood, and you can’t get it out." Many fighters try to make one comeback, at least, and some fight until they are definitely punch-drunk.

Boxers find further that, despite their success in the sport, their careers terminate at a relatively early age. Since their physical condition is so decisive to their role, when they feel a decline in their physical prowess, they tend also to acquire the premature feeling of "being old." This attitude is reinforced by others in the sport who refer to them as "old men," meaning old in the occupation. Since boxing has been the vocational medium of status attainment and since they have no other skills to retain that status, many boxers experience a sharp decline in status in their postboxing careers. As an illustration, of ninety-five leading former boxers (i.e., champions and leading contenders), each of whom earned more than $100,000 during his ring career, eighteen were found to have remained in the sport as trainers or trainer-managers; two became wrestlers; twenty-six worked in, "fronted for," or owned taverns; two were liquor salesmen; eighteen had unskilled jobs, most commonly in the steelmills; six worked in the movies; five were entertainers; two owned or worked in gas stations; three were cab-drivers; three had newsstands; two were janitors; three were bookies; three were associated with the race tracks (two in collecting bets and one as a starter); and two were in business, one of them as a custom tailor. In short, the successful boxers have a relatively quick economic ascent at a relatively young age in terms of earning power. But the punitive character of the sport, the boxers’ dependence upon their managers, and their carefree spending during their boxing careers contribute to a quicker economic descent for many boxers. Their economic descent is accompanied by a drop in status and frequently by temporary or prolonged emotional difficulties in readjusting to their new occupational roles.

1 From , 1952, 57:460–469. By permission of The University of Chicago Press.

2 One of us (Arond) has been a boxer, trainer, and manager. We first determined some common values, beliefs, and practices by a few unstructured interviews. We used the material thus gained to plan guided interviews which would help us sift out what is ethnic from what belongs properly to boxing culture. Mr. Leland White helped in the interviewing.

3 Some juveniles who fought continually to retrieve their self-esteem and also in sheer self-defense later became boxers. One adolescent who was half-Negro and half-Indian was induced to become a boxer by a trainer who saw him beat two white opponents in a street fight. Another boxer admitted that he fought continually because other boys called him a "sissy." A third boxer fought continually because he was small and other boys picked on him. This compensatory drive among boxers is not unusual.

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Chicago: "The Occupational Culture of the Boxer1," American Journal of Sociology in Principles of Sociology: A Reader in Theory and Research, ed. Young, Kimball, and Mack, Raymond W. (New York: American Book Company, 1962), Original Sources, accessed February 23, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UYBNIMDRJ2S1DG2.

MLA: . "The Occupational Culture of the Boxer1." American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 57, in Principles of Sociology: A Reader in Theory and Research, edited by Young, Kimball, and Mack, Raymond W., New York, American Book Company, 1962, Original Sources. 23 Feb. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UYBNIMDRJ2S1DG2.

Harvard: , 'The Occupational Culture of the Boxer1' in American Journal of Sociology. cited in 1962, Principles of Sociology: A Reader in Theory and Research, ed. , American Book Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 February 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UYBNIMDRJ2S1DG2.