Subject Area



More than any other sport, certain ideals infuse boxing. Depending on era, boxing and prizefight—as terms—have either been synonymous or considered as opposite as notions of civility and barbarity. That is why boxers, more than any other athletes, can define various ideals of what a country or ethnicity represent. Using Mexican boxing as a lens, this dissertation examines those ideals not just in Mexico, but also in the United States.

The boxing histories of Mexico and the United States often overlap. Professional boxing has been a predominately working-class and male sport. And in the past quarter century, boxing in the United States has become a Latino—largely Mexican—sport. With that shift, there is an increased tension of not only what boxing represents within two countries—Mexico and the United States—but also of what boxers, sometimes straddling two cultures, symbolize. Nationalism, machismo, assimilation, gender, patriotism and class are among the many things contested when boxers of Mexican descent face each other, especially if they were born of opposite sides of the United States-Mexico border. Likewise, when boxers of Mexican descent faced white opponents from the United States, the fight often symbolized something greater than just boxing. Sometimes, those fights became metaphors infused with a historical tension.

This dissertation argues that through boxing, the Mexican and Mexican American working-class took part in that eternal search for what being Mexican means. Through discussing Lo Mexicano or Mexicanidad, this search for identity has almost exclusively been the domain of Mexican intellectuals—those cientificos and pensadores, writers and philosophers, who for decades helped define the Mexican experience. But with boxers and fans of Mexican descent—the latter assigning the meaning of what the former symbolizes—that discussion and existential search of what being Mexican means, has expanded into the working-class and north of the United States-Mexico border.

Degree Date

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name





Neil Foley

Second Advisor

John R. Chavez

Third Advisor

Crista J. DeLuzio

Fourth Advisor

Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Saturday, May 03, 2025