When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport by Allen Bodner

$ 24.95


A vivid portrayal of the important role of Jews in American boxing history, and vice versa.

Boxing was an integral part of American culture during the first half of the twentieth century, second only to baseball in popularity. It was also a heavily Jewish sport—from 1910 to 1940, there were twenty-six Jewish world champions, and during the 1920s and 1930s, almost one-third of all boxers were Jewish. Drawing on numerous interviews and first-person accounts of the boxers themselves, Allen Bodner offers a vivid portrayal of the important role of Jews in American boxing history, and vice versa. When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport is a must read for fans of the sweet science, as well as anyone interested in the Jewish American and immigrant experience more generally.

Praise for When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport

“Bodner’s work deserves praise for reminding us of this nearly forgotten history. But it also offers much more. For boxing enthusiasts of any background, Bodner has collected an invaluable treasure of stories and anecdotes that recreate a vanished world of shady promoters, heroic young fighters, and smoke-filled arenas. For those interested in the Jewish experience in interwar New York, When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport offers a record of some of the challenges and opportunities for young, second-generation Jewish men … Bodner has performed a great service in recording these voices.” — H-Net Reviews (H-Judaic)

“Sports fans will find this to be an interesting book while others may learn about a piece of the American Jewish experience with which they may not be familiar.” — National Jewish Post & Opinion

“[Bodner] presents a concise overview of boxing as it involved Jewish participants, as well as a capsule social history of the Jewish experience in twentieth-century New York City … Generally New York’s leading Yiddish paper, the Daily Forward, ignored the exploits of boxers, as do most major Jewish histories, so Bodner has rescued many from oblivion. Boxing fans will be intrigued by the arcana here.” — Publishers Weekly

“Bodner’s book is less about boxing than it is about boxers, and it is a loving and thoughtful tribute to a generation of fighters whose stories might otherwise go untold … The affection he feels for the ex-fighters he met underscores his entire book and, more than anything else, makes it a compelling chronicle … Bodner’s tribute to the men he was able to meet and interview is a thoughtful and moving collection of stories about what it meant to earn a living as a Jew in a distinctly American game. Passionate without romanticizing its subject, When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport preserves some of the firsthand stories we were in danger of losing altogether.” — Jewish Book Guide

“A welcome addition to the literature on Jews in American sports.” — Forward

“Bodner offers a valuable addition to the numerous tomes that chronicle the Jewish experience in America. In giving us more than just another recitation of Jewish sports greats, he treats us to a look at a time that no longer exists through the eyes of the people who made it what it was.” — Jerusalem Report

“The strength of the book … concerns the struggles and triumphs of the fighters.” — Newsday

“Bodner has written a readable book about a mostly forgotten phase of American history, one whose like the American Jewish community will probably never see again. You don’t have to be Jewish, and you don’t have to be a sports fan, to appreciate his achievement.” — Washington Post Book World

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