Summer 1988 • Vol. X No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1988 |

The Black Intellectual and the Sport of Prizefighting

I A Theoretical Prelude Once I saw a prize fighter boxing a yokel. The fighter was swift and amazingly scientific. His body was one violent flow of rapid rhythmic action. He hit the yokel a hundred times while the yokel held up his arms in stunned surprise. But suddenly the yokel, rolling about in the gale of boxing gloves, struck one blow and knocked science, speed, and footwork as cold as a well-digger's posterior. The smart money hit the canvas. The long shot got the nod. The yokel had simply stepped inside of his opponent's sense of time . . .  This quotation is from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man,1 a novel that makes a number of allusions and references to prizefighting. This quotation resonates in a number of very crucial ways. It is, of course, the classic dialectic of boxing: the speedy, scientific boxer versus the artless puncher. But it is also the story of the tortoise and the hare, the con man and the homeboy, the country mouse and the city

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