Endless punchers: Body, narrative, and performance in the world of Japanese boxing
Goodman, Loren Seth
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation presents the personal narratives of professional boxers in Japan in documentary form through interview, participant observation, and research involving translation from Japanese texts. The product of six years of continuous research conducted mainly in Western (Kansai) Japan, the study focuses on hanguri seishin ("hungry spirit") as it emerges from and enfolds the life stories of boxers encountered mainly in Kansai. Through presenting in context and analyzing the stories of Japanese boxers, it aims to discover why they box, how they construct their identities as boxers and give meaning to their lives, their insights into and conceptions of boxing, and the roles they play in their performance of the sport. Chapter One establishes a comparative framework between boxing in Japan and the United States. It discusses and analyzes differences and similarities in: narrative styles , structural and gym systems, media, economic and social factors, and training methods. Chapter Two elaborates participant observation research through an autobiographical account of my journey from ringside photographer to licensed JBC referee/judge. Chapter Three attempts to see how boxing---traditionally the territory of the impoverished and oppressed---plays out in Japan's affluent society of invisible ethnicity . Examination of Sugden's and Wacquant's work leads to discussion of Japanese body stereotypes and their portrayal in the manga Joe Tomorrow . Chapter Four presents in autobiographical mode my participant observation as the trainer of two rival Japanese middleweight boxers. I argue that each boxer's ability to construct personal mythologies relates directly to their successes and failures in striving to become elite athletes. Chapter Five expounds upon the premise that boxing in Japan is a literary enterprise. Through translation, close reading and analysis of Japanese texts, I expose how certain boxing events, personalities, and happenings I experienced first-hand found their way into textual inscription, and what got distorted along the way. Chapter Six examines the peculiar case of the Japanese middleweight. Forced to endure extreme weight-loss and expected to fight "like heavyweights," they are different from middleweights anywhere else. This chapter analyzes the narratives of seven such boxers whose careers and stories interweave to define a unique and exclusive sub-culture.* *This dissertation is a compound document (contains both a paper copy and a CD as part of the dissertation).