Belle of the Brawl

Erik N. Jensen

in Body by Weimar

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780195395648
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866564 | DOI:
Belle of the Brawl

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Boxing rings, whether in sports arenas or burlesque theaters, afforded men and women stages on which to create larger‐than‐life personas and to test the limits of socially acceptable self‐presentation. Female boxers embraced the sport's physical combat as a strategy for getting ahead in a postwar Germany in which young women outnumbered the battle‐ravaged men in their age group and had increasingly to fend for themselves. Male boxers embraced the marketing potential of the sport by posing for early renditions of the male pin‐up photograph. Women often displayed themselves as “babes” in boxing trunks for the titillation of their public, but the men did, too. These boxers' carefully crafted public images popularized an ideal of working‐class toughness, the promise of upward mobility, and the allure of self‐invention in modern society.

Keywords: boxing; burlesque; marketing; physical combat; self‐presentation; upward mobility; male pin‐up; modern society

Chapter.  20422 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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