On September 14, 1923, Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo of Argentina fought for boxing's heavyweight championship of the world. This article argues that descriptions of Firpo generated in the buildup to the title match reveal the ambiguous racial positioning of Latin Americans and Southern Europeans in the United States during the transitional decade of the 1920s. The prefight coverage provides a unique window into the complex relationships between the construction of racial identities and mass sporting culture. Representations of Firpo hewed closely to established racial stereotypes and yet challenged and confounded these caricatures by presenting him both as an exotic and strange foreigner from a racially suspect region and as a familiar, white American whose hard work and intelligence would have made him a worthy champion.

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