National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. In an effort to incorporate more events for Hispanic Heritage Month, BC lined up three speakers in celebration of the hispanic culture that spread throughout the month.
To kick off the speakers, CSUB professor Stephen Allen spoke on campus Sept. 19 in the Levan Center. Allen’s “Boxing in Mexico: Masculinity, Modernity, Nationalism” touched on Mexican nationalism associated with boxing and the success of Mexican boxers in the United States.
Allen focused on boxers from the 1940’s to the early 1980’s. During this time period, the rise of Mexican boxers coincided with the Mexican economical miracle. As the economy in Mexico boomed, a sense of national optimism washed over the Mexican people, especially the government officials.
“A lot of people were hoping that Mexico would rise as a, for lack of a better term, in Cold War terms, a first world,” Allen said. “Mexico would rise up to the prosperity levels as the United States or Europe.”
According to Allen, the Mexican leadership wanted the image of Mexico on the rise to be pushed globally. Mexican boxers won world-championships and later sold out fights that would take place in America, which instilled nationalism in Mexico.
Allen talked about his research with gender theory and the performance of gender.
“Has anyone ever told you to act like a man, act like a lady, right? Acting, performance. You know that there is a part of gender you have to perform.” Allen said.
He studied how the boxers acted in the ring, outside of the ring, and in interviews.
According to Allen, the boxers were the prime example used by Mexicans that debated what it meant to be masculine. The Mexican people idolized boxers, such as Casanova, Macías, Saldívar, Olivares, and Nápoles, for their composure and the masculinity these boxers preformed.
“Boxers helped dissolve the tension between authentic Mexican national culture and the cosmopolitan need to impress the world,” Allen said.
Up until the late 1940s, boxing was the only sport that Los Angeles had, before the Rams called it home.
“But up until that point, if you were a sports writer in Los Angeles, the most prestigious beat you could have is to cover boxing,” Allen said.
LA was always looking to showcase boxers, giving Mexican boxers their break into the United States. Without the weight-classes listed, they would sell out no matter the size of the competitors.
The decision of hosting Mexican boxers brought a sense of Mexican nationalism into the United States due to the crowds being primarily Mexican-American people.
“LA had this special relationship itself with boxing, that also is one level, then there is this increasing Mexican-American population that was interested in watching Mexican boxers,” Allen said.
Allen’s closing remarks talked of Tyson Fury, an Irish boxer, who walked into the ring dressed as a mariachi with “big red, white, and green hat” this past weekend. His point being that Mexican boxing culture has made an impact that lasts in modern day.