Brooklyn College Aquires Boxing History Collection


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The New York Times is reporting that the Brooklyn College Library has acquired an outstanding collection of boxing history materials from boxing historian Hank Kaplan. According to his obituary (he died at 88 in 2007), Kaplan served was “founder and editor of Boxing Digest magazine, editor of Boxing World and served as consultant to such media outlets as Sports Illustrated, London Times, Der Stern and HBO.” According to the Times:

As yet unavailable to researchers, the collection — so far publicly confined to a small exhibition area in the library — consumes a 10-foot-high chamber in the Archives and Special Collections Division.

Crammed into the space are 2,600 books, 200,000 rare prints and negatives, 790 boxes of newspaper clippings from 1890 to 2007, 300 tapes of fights and interviews, reams of correspondence and hundreds of items of memorabilia, including belt buckles, trading cards and signed boxing gloves. Among the treasures is a heavy punching bag pounded by Cassius Clay in Miami before he renamed himself Muhammad Ali.

Although it might seem incongruous for an academic institution to devote space to a boxing collection, Professor Anthony M. Cucchiara said he hoped the Kaplan collection would be “a valuable archaeological dig” for scholars. “I suppose some people would want to turn their noses up at a boxing collection,” he said. “But the story of America is in this archive. Boxing is a prism for our cultural history, and is important for its associations with immigration, ethnicity, class, race and nationalism.”

Hank Kaplan received the James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America for “Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing” in 2002. In 2006 he was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

A number of his recent feature pieces are available online at The Sweet Science.

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