Boxing in the 1930s

Boxing became respectable and even a social event during the 1920s. Many states legalized boxing as an official sport. It also became a social event for many politicians, business executives and social leaders who wanted to be seen at these championship fights with their ladies in hand.1  While boxing became a social event for the upper class and elite, members of the working class enjoyed boxing in their own ways. Instead of attending expensive matches, neighborhoods came together to listen intently over the radio as matches were going on.2 In addition to this, the working class saw boxing as a sport they could partake in. Children pretended to fight after school or in the playground. Every male child knew how to fight.

Boxing popularity grew significantly during the Great Depression. Boxing committees knew they would always have a crowd for their championship matches because boxing appealed to all classes. Boxing was an escape for those suffering from the Great Depression. The Journal of American History writes, “…boxing is the sport that best mirrors the 1930s, an apt metaphor reduction of human beings to the bare-knuckled basics.”3

Real James Braddock:                        


  1. Richard O. Davies, Sports in American Life: A History (Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 171).
  2. Ibid., 34.
  3. Thomas Doherty, “Cinderella Man,” Journal of American History (December 2005): 1096-1097.


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