Fight pictures

I wrote a post a while ago on two new books on boxing and modern culture. I’ve just started reading Kasia Boddy’s Boxing: A Cultural History, which is a real treasure trove, so more on that in due course.

I’ve not yet laid eyes on Dan Streible’s Fight Pictures: A History of Boxing and Early Cinema, which is going to be a real treat, but anyone who’s in New York might like to know about an illustrated lecture the author will be giving at Light Industry, a new venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn. The event takes place on 6 May at 8.00pm, and costs $6.

Here’s the blurb:

Between 1894 and 1915, the first generation of filmmakers produced more than 250 motion pictures with boxing and prizefighting as their subject. Fight pictures were among the most conspicuous, profitable and controversial productions of early cinema. From 1912 until 1940, U.S. law banned the interstate distribution of film recordings of prizefights. Congress enacted the law to suppress the celebrity of the first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, titleholder from 1908 to 1915. Yet, only a few years after the start of the ban, fight pictures flourished again. Throughout the 1920s and 30s these supposedly criminal records were nearly ubiquitous in movie houses and other venues. In conjunction with his newly released book Fight Pictures: A History of Boxing and Early Cinema, Dan Streible presents glimpses of some of these ephemeral films, most of which no longer survive or exist only in fragments. Also on screen will be much of the ephemera – posters, photographs, cartoons, advertisements and the like – that accompanied these “moving fight pictures.”

See the likes of:
Corbett and Courtney Before the Kinetograph (1894)
Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight (1897)
A Scrap in Black and White (1903)
Squires vs. Burns, Ocean View, Cal., July 4th, 1907 (1907)
Jack Johnson: Der Meister Boxer der Welt (1911)

It’s a compelling history, one well worth telling and telling again. More from the ring in the near future.

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