Monday 14th January 2019
It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.
Kicking off 2019 will be Dr Jon Hughes of Royal Holloway who will be talking to us about ‘The Biggest Boxing Match in Europe’. To find out more read his abstract below and then come along to what should be a stimulating discussion next Monday.
I would offer insights into the fight between Max Schmeling and another German boxer, Walter Neusel, in August 1934. The fight was stage managed, under the Nazis, at a huge open-air venue in Hamburg and attended by at least 80,000, possibly more. It was an interesting example of the Nazis experimenting with the propaganda potential of sport, two years before the Olympics, and formed part of a failed bid to move the symbolic focus of professional boxing away from the USA and back to Europe, and to Germany in particular. I’ll look at the circumstances surrounding the match (Schmeling’s first in Germany since 1928) and its representation in the media, reflect on the geopolitics of boxing in this era, the symbolism of the heavyweight title, and the compromises that the Nazis were willing to make – neither Schmeling nor Neusel were conformists in any sense, as both had Jewish managers and had been reluctant to compete in Germany. This occasion is much less well known than e.g. Schmeling’s two fights against Joe Louis, but in many ways just as interesting.
This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).