In this paper, I discuss how I followed in the footsteps of Loïc Wacquant (2004) and took a closer and personal look at boxing as a leisure activity, from the point of view of those who participate in it, using embodied ethnography as the means of research. I was curious as to how and/or if leisure theory relates and applies to boxing, given the latter’s peculiar characteristics, which seem to equate it more with “work” than with “leisure.” I sought to answer a basic question, "Why do you box?" within these theoretical and methodological frameworks, and discovered that, while Robert Stebbins' casual/serious leisure dichotomy applied to boxing, the reality was far more complex than I had anticipated. The ethos of boxing did not fit neatly into any theoretical classifications, and the participant nature of the research allowed for a more nuanced analysis of boxing culture, with surprising results. Implications for leisure theory and directions for future research are discussed.


Boxing, Embodied Ethnography, Culture, Behavior, Casual Leisure, Serious Leisure

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Nuno F. Ribeiro is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport & Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Ribeiro’s research agenda deals primarily with the comparative study of culture and behavior in tourism and leisure contexts. Broadly, Dr. Ribeiro’s research interests comprise culturally-derived belief and behavior models in tourism destinations; young people's leisure behavior; visual methods in tourism research; and cross-cultural leisure and tourism behavior. Dr. Ribeiro has published extensively and has been the PI or co-PI of several grants totaling in excess of 1.5M $US, receiving research support from the Portuguese National Foundation for Science and Technology, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, among others. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: nuno@illinois.edu.


The author wishes to acknowledge the help of E. P. Durrenberger and T. Liechty, who assisted in the preparation of this manuscript and provided helpful comments.

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