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For Non-White Boxers In California, The Biggest Enemies Are Not Always In The Ring

Black boxing gloves sitting on a gym floor mat.
Not all boxers in L.A. are getting the protection they deserve outside of the ring, according to a UCLA study.
( Stock photo by Prateek Katyal
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While boxing is known for its bravado and bloodshed, a research team from UCLA calls attention to protect boxers of color not from punches, but from exploitation.

Researchers Rudy Mondragón and Abel Valenzuela Jr. say their research shows Latino, Black and Filipino boxers are repeatedly exploited and preyed upon within the industry. Their research shows that there is no single governing power or unions that grant labor protections to the fighters. As a result, fighters lack access to health care, a minimum salary and pension or retirement plans.

According to a study on boxers in the Midwest, fighters risk being underpaid and are marketed by their promoters to sell out venues based on their ethnic and racial identity.

Mondragón, UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the
UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, studies how boxers use their ring entrance as displays of resistance and activism, such as boxer and actressKali Reis did in 2017.

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Valenzuela, who is director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and Valenzuela plan to examine boxing regulations and financial limitations the California State Athletic Commission puts on the fighters.

Mondragón and Valenzuela were selected among five other Latino research teams to have their projects funded by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institution. The research focuses on the shortcomings of the trade for boxers in California.

With the UCLA funding, the team expects to suggest policies to fortify labor protections in California and other states.

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