Blood on the Canvas: African-Americans, Haile Selassie, and Italian Fascism

LL1It was a beautiful right cross, straight to the jaw. The big Italian folded up in the middle of the ring. He got up and fell to his knees and got up again but he was swaying.

Yankee Stadium was full of 64,000 people tonight. A scrum of men in suits and ties and hats plus a few women who didn’t mind getting blood on their mink wraps, all roaring down from their seats at a boxing ring the size of a postage stamp. The Italian-Americans were telling Primo Carnera to stay on his feet and keep his guard up, their black hair glossy in the lights. African-Americans shouted at Joe Louis to finish him, Joe, finish him and shadow-boxed with whatever fist wasn’t holding a cigarette.

Commentators ringside talked fast into their microphones for the folks at home. Photographers popped off another bulb in cameras big as a box of groceries. Louis stalked a glassy Carnera around the ring.

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Woody Allen Fights a Kangaroo

Kangaroo_Boxing_sideshow_posterWe know Woody Allen as a neurotic Jewish-American comic who married his girlfriend’s adopted daughter and made many classic films along with some terrible ones. Everyone loves Annie Hall, a warm and funny comedy about relationships. Everyone hates Hollywood Ending, where the main character is blind and the audience wish they were too. And deaf. And watching something else.

But British audiences in 1966 knew him as the man who boxed a kangaroo at the Hippodrome. Sure, why not?

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