CNN recently ran a photo blog feature on Claressa Shields, a.k.a. T-Rex, the youngest-ever female Olympic boxer.
To celebrate boxing, which will include female boxers this year for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, we’re featuring Boxer: An Anthology of Writings on Boxing and Visual Culture, published in 1996.
This catalog, packed with knockout photos, emerged from the exhibition Boxer, which was produced by the Walsall Museum & Art Gallery in association with the Institute of International Visual Arts, London in late 1995. Gilane Tawadros, the former director of the Institute of International Visual Arts, writes in the acknowledgments:
“[Boxer] emerged out of a conversation between John Gill, Malcolm Bacon and myself about Joyce Carol Oates’ insightful reflections on the sport in On Boxing. Oates’ ambivalence about boxing and her perspective as a working class woman who is both attracted and repelled by the sport, suggests that boxing is a discursive and representational space which lies beyond simplistic morality on the one hand or uncritical celebration on the other. The heated discussion which ensued about the ambivalence of the sport and its status as an arena in which issues of race, class, and sexuality are staged/acted out became the starting point for both the exhibition and the book.”
The texts contained in Boxer range from David Mellor and Ian Jeffrey’s perception of the “‘descent’ of boxing from its high modernist ideals and position as an ‘authentic’ cultural phenomenon into the ‘slam-bang brawls’ favored by new television audiences of the 1950s and later into a public relations exercise, increasingly determined by corporate interests” to an essay from our very own editor, Roger Conover, on boxing and art, specifically on the “iconoclastic but elusive figure of Arthur Cravan, self-styled poet and boxer and tormentor of the Parisian art world c. 1910-17,” to an excerpt from On Boxing, where Joyce Carol Oates offers her perspective on the male-dominated sport. Boxer also contains essays by four women as well as the work of women artists. Here are a few images from the book:
Barbara Buttrick, Cottingham, Yorkshire, England, World Fly and Bantamweight Boxing Champion 1950-1960. Courtesy: Jennifer Hargreaves.
Dawn Davies and Forrester Joseph at a female boxing/kick boxing night at York Hall, London. Photograph: Gillian Allard, 1994. Copyright: Gillian Allard. Courtesy: Gillian Allard.
Kenwood UK Ltd. print advertisement, originally run with the caption: “Don’t give up the day job, Cathy. Cathy Clark, administrator, Communications division, Kenwood UK. Works in Watford. Puts her feet up in the evenings. Kenwood, it’s the people who make it.” Courtesy: James Abelson, London. Ad. Agency: Buckfield Lord & Co.