Urban Fold

Boxing Gyms in Shrinking Cities: Refuge for the Formerly Incarcerated

Sociologist Lucia Trimbur describes how urban boxing gyms provide an opportunity for a particularly vulnerable population, formerly incarcerated men of color, to "recover from detention and establish stability in the free world."

Trimbur embarked on four years of ethnographic research at Gleason's Gym in the DUMBO neighborhood of New York City to see how incarcerated men of color are affected by "shrinking cities." According to Trimbur,

"The term 'shrinking city' … can also describe the limitations placed on certain residents in their uses of their city. In the case of postindustrial New York, the shrinking city can signify the circumscription of space where men of color can go to reintegrate after prison and the places they can viably inhabit with men in similar circumstances."

In this article, Trimbur outlines the history of policing and employment opportunities in New York City, which have disproportionally disadvantaged minority communities. The legacy of this history creates high barriers today for individuals trying to reintegrate into society after spending time in the criminal justice system.

As an available space within shrinking cities, urban boxing gyms allow young men of color "to reenter society on their own terms, with the support of men who have made similar life changes." In her piece on Urban Omnibus, Trimbur elaborates on the community found at Gleason's, and the positive role in plays in many of the boxers' lives.

Full Story: Rings of Refuge: The Boxing Gym in a Shrinking City


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