Figures That Shaped Society In Hidden Intellectualism By Gerald Gruff

979 words - 4 pages

In "Hidden Intellectualism," Gerald Graff argues that events in society can be interpret as microcosms of American ideals and flaws. For instance, sports has been a part of civilization for centuries, transforming into much more than just a competition. It has become a symbol of a country's culture, ethics, and hope. Perhaps no other sport lead itself to this kind of symbolism more than boxing. For the purity of boxing relates with the nature of a blank canvas; variables such as a field, team, and equipments will not affect the outcome. Only the confrontation between two men with only their perseverance to decide their fate. As a result, athletes in this ring can easily be seen as a symbolic representation of something larger.
Famous fighters such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson appear throughout history, influencing the views of society and shaping what it is today. In the article "What's in a Name? Muhammad Ali and the Politics of Cultural Identity," Amir Saeed discusses Ali's influence towards non-white communities and allowing himself to become a catalyst for other civil rights movement in America and around the world. On the other hand, in his work "All the Rage: As He Storms Toward His Showdown With Lennon Lewis, is Mike Tyson the Ultimate Psycho Celebrity in the Midst of a Public Breakdown - or the Shrewdest Self-Promoter in Boxing History?," Richard Hoffer describes Tyson's infamous life as a former boxer and his involvement with criminal acts. Both fighters affected society in different ways. Ali showed the black community how to be proud, strong, and confident influencing society while Tyson did the opposite, he allowed himself to be influenced by society, becoming a popular figure for inappropriate civility.
In the beginning of Cassius Clay's (Muhammad Ali) career, he was torn between two ideals. Being a symbol for patriotic America or becoming a symbol of individualism. During the early 1960's the United States was in conflict with Vietnam causing the American society in turmoil. The people wanted to escape the escalating political changes that were happening in America. The majority of the population, they turned to boxing where Cassius Clay slowly rise from popularity. Clay performed a number events that influence the views of society, however, the most impactful was his affiliation with the Nation of Islam. His conversion to Islam while at the same time changing his name became a symbol of independence. The article states, "Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, was at first cautious of publicly backing Clay, but realizing the potential publicity the World Heavyweight Champion would bring, the NoI quickly named him Muhammad Ali."(Saeed 8). The name Cassius Clay symbolize the American black stereotype that the white community established. By changing his name, he has created a persona of himself and created his own identity in society. Standing up for his...

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