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Come Out Swinging:
The Changing World of Boxing in Gleason's Gym
Lucia Trimbur

Hardcover | 2013 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691150291
224 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 10 halftones.
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Gleason's Gym is the last remaining institution of New York's Golden Age of boxing. Jake LaMotta, Muhammad Ali, Hector Camacho, Mike Tyson--the alumni of Gleason's are a roster of boxing greats. Founded in the Bronx in 1937, Gleason's moved in the mid-1980s to what has since become one of New York's wealthiest residential areas--Brooklyn's DUMBO. Gleason's has also transformed, opening its doors to new members, particularly women and white-collar men. Come Out Swinging is Lucia Trimbur's nuanced insider's account of a place that was once the domain of poor and working-class men of color but is now shared by rich and poor, male and female, black and white, and young and old.

Come Out Swinging chronicles the everyday world of the gym. Its diverse members train, fight, talk, and socialize together. We meet amateurs for whom boxing is a full-time, unpaid job. We get to know the trainers who act as their father figures and mentors. We are introduced to women who empower themselves physically and mentally. And we encounter the male urban professionals who pay handsomely to learn to box, and to access a form of masculinity missing from their office-bound lives. Ultimately, Come Out Swinging reveals how Gleason's meets the needs of a variety of people who, despite their differences, are connected through discipline and sport.


"Trimbur . . . capture[s] the faces and dramas--often internal--of a modern, urban boxing gym."--Choice

"This is rich and fascinating book. . . . Lucid and refreshingly free of unessential academic jargon, this is a book that should be read by any anthropologist, historian or sociologist seeking to understand the changing world of sport and leisure since the 1980s. Most importantly, it is a book is written with great humanity."--Tony Collins, Sport in History

"Trimbur has written a wonderful book about the world of boxing, specifically that place and space dedicated to boxing known as Gleason's Gym. Anyone who wants to understand boxing as practiced in 21st-century Brooklyn should read the sociological gift bestowed upon us called Come Out Swinging."--Joseph Trumino, American Journal of Sociology


"A brilliant, humane, and critically attentive book."--Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London

"What is work? Trimbur's exquisite ethnography reveals postindustrial New York as a socially and spatially segregated landscape shaped by disappearing jobs for--and relentless criminalization of--modestly educated people of color. By developing their bodies as worksites and instruments, the boxers Trimbur describes enact complex understandings of the contradictory struggles to remix their labor with the external world. These sobering insights give me hope."--Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California

"This book is a gem. Incisive, deeply principled, and acutely observed, it yields nothing to the idea that Gleason's Gym should be seen as an exotic place. The product of extensive fieldwork, Trimbur's writing overflows with insights into work, sport, masculinity, and above all 'the realization of the colonial model within the metropolitan heartland.'"--Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments xi
List of Prominent Participants xv
Preface xvii
Chapter One: Survival in a City Transformed: The Urban Boxing Gym in Postindustrial New York 1
Chapter Two: Work without Wages 16
Chapter Three: Tough Love and Intimacy in a Community of Men 39
Chapter Four: Passing Time: The Expressive Culture of Everyday Gym Life 63
Chapter Five: The Changing Politics of Gender 89
Chapter Six: Buying and Selling Blackness: White-Collar Boxing and the Cultural Capital of Racial Difference 117
Epilogue 142
Methodological Appendix: Ethnographic Research in the Urban Gym 149
Notes 155
References 181
Index 193

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