During the years 1919–1923, the Australia-Philippines boxing circuit was highly profitable and created a transnational community of fans. Allowed into Australia as exceptions to the White Australia Policy, Filipino boxers were matched against white fighters and drew large crowds both despite and because of racial stereotyping. Using evidence drawn primarily from Australian sports papers, this article by Dr Rebecca Sheehan published in Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics argues that boxing was a realm—at home and abroad—in which Filipino fighters challenged a racial hierarchy that deemed them primitive, unskilled, and inferior. Successful Filipino boxers thus became symbols of hope to their people. The ring was also a place in which Filipino and Australian boxers deemed too small or “pretty” to be significant men challenged narrow definitions of masculinity through their fighting prowess. While boxing provided an arena to fight and transcend social hierarchies, boxers from both countries were subject to the control and demands of the men who made profits from their fights.
‘Little giants of the ring’: fighting race and making men on the Australia–Philippines boxing circuit, 1919–1923
Books and journals by
Dr Rebecca SheehanLecturer in the Sociology of Gender