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What Does Boxing Owe Its Champions?

What Does Boxing Owe Its Champions? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Image By Rudy Mondragón

Presented in partnership with UCLA College, Division of Social Sciences and ASU Global Sport Institute
Moderated by Rudy Mondragón, UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA

Boxing is a sport of contradictions. Known as the “sweet science” because of the technical skills its fighters need to succeed, it is also incredibly brutal. Boxing has provided a creative outlet and a path out of poverty for generations of California strivers, forging cultural and individual identity, promoting dignity, pride, and agency, and delivering million-dollar paydays for some. But the sport has also destroyed some of its most talented practitioners, seemingly abandoning them to post-career bankruptcies and grievous injury.

What accounts for boxing’s disconnects? Boxers themselves, who take epic risks with few safety nets? Promoters, agents, and managers who forget clients once they’re past their prime? The industry’s structure and sanctioning bodies, that allow abuse and neglect? California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster, former middleweight champ Sergio “the Latin Snake” Mora, and Kali “KO” Mequinonoag Reis, professional boxer and actress, visit Zócalo for a panel discussion, moderated by sport and ethnic studies scholar Rudy Mondragón, to reflect on boxing’s future—as an athletic endeavor, as a business, and as a cultural force—in California and beyond.

Zócalo invites our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary bites from Senoreata.

Zócalo Public Square values audience safety. During events at ASU California Center, as bag searches are not permitted, only clear bags (maximum size 12” x 6” x 12”) and small clutches (maximum size 8 ½” x 5 ½”) are allowed in the venue. Zócalo may be able to provide a limited number of clear bags to help accommodate guests. Questions? Ask us at events@zocalopublicsquare.org.

The ASU California Center is inclusive and accessible for all. A platform wheelchair lift is available at our main entrance via Broadway (ground level). Upon checking in for the event, please inform Zócalo staff if you need assistance, or contact events@zocalopublicsquare.org for additional information.

ASU California Center
1111 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015

The Takeaway

Boxing Isn’t Only a Labor of Love—It’s Work

The Industry Will Require Collective Effort to Overcome the Challenges Champions Face in and out of the Ring

Boxing has big pictures (Raging Bull, Creed), big personalities (Muhammad Ali, the original G.O.A.T.), and big spectacles (pay-per-view fights adorned with flashing lights, raucous crowds, and stylized ring entrances). You …

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