A1 Journal article – refereed

“‘Lord Save Us from Champions like This’: The Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Championship Bouts as Transnational Sporting Culture in 1960s Finland"

List of Authors: Benita Heiskanen, Hannu Salmi

Publisher: Nordic Association for American Studies

Place: Odense

Publication year: 2021

Journal: American Studies in Scandinavia

Volume number: 53

Issue number: 1

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22439/asca.v53i1.6220

URL: https://www.universitypress.dk/shop/american-studies-in-3882p.html


The two championship bouts between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali in 1964 and 1965 are among some of the most controversial events in the history of boxing. While their significance has been interpreted in the United States against the backdrop of the Civil Rights era, this article opens up a pathway for discussing transnational meanings and functions that African American heavyweight champions assumed in faraway lands, such as Finland. Contextualized within a Transnational American Studies research paradigm, the article considers the multiple ways in which Finnish media reporting made sense of and imposed significance on transnational sporting culture in the 1960s. The article argues that prizefighting served as a lens through which reporters negotiated Euro-American relations, national identity, and the global spread of professional sports at the expense of amateurism. In addition to providing a site for negotiating ethnic and racial differentiation, prizefighting offered a locus for constructing performative, class-based sporting whiteness.

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Last updated on 2021-06-07 at 10:13