Anju Reejhsinghani

Position title: UW System Fellow (2014-2015)

History, UW-Stevens Point

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For Blood or for Glory: A History of Cuban Boxing, 1898-1962

As the first sustained examination of boxing’s rise and popularization within Cuba and its diaspora, Anju Reejhsinghani’s project should prove relevant not only to cultural historians, but also to scholars of diaspora, gender, race, and transnationalism. In the wake of the Spanish-Cuban-American War, U.S. government, religious, and business interests nurtured a culture of pugilism that tried, but failed, to embed a rigid color line in Havana’s prize rings. In the 1920s, the Cuban state’s regulation of the sport opened the floodgates to aspirants from the provinces as well as the capital, who soon formed a transnational workforce that gradually shaped diasporic identity and influenced U.S. racial attitudes. While Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government did not initially envision major reforms to boxing, its hemispheric isolation led it to ban professional sport in 1962—fueling an exodus of Cuba’s top talent and forcing it to rebuild its boxing program in line with socialist ideals.

Anju Reejhsinghani is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she teaches courses on Latin America and the Caribbean, transnational and global sport, and the Asian diaspora in the Americas. In 2013, she developed and led one of the UW System’s first short-term, for-credit study abroad programs to Cuba, now an ongoing program. Her work has been published in the Journal of American Ethnic History, Journal of Sport History, and the forthcoming Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (Oxford University Press). Her current book project, For Blood or for Glory: A History of Cuban Boxing, 1898-1962, draws upon research conducted in numerous U.S. and Cuban archives with the generous support of the UWSP College of Letters and Science and other institutions.