Boxing Ring Entrances as Insubordinate Spaces: A Disruptive Oral Herstory


  • Rudy Mondragón


This article examines the May 5, 2018, boxing ring entrance of world champion prizefighter Kali “KO Mequinonoag” Reis. Boxing ring entrances provide a source of entertainment, setting up the spectacle of the fight. They are also spaces where professional boxers can radically and creatively express themselves through their deployment of expressive culture. This article is based on a six-hour oral history with Reis and content analysis of the media coverage of her fights. It reveals that this boxer intentionally centers her gender, self-identification as a multiracial “Black Indian,” and two-spirit subjectivities as well as her “Fight 4 All Nations” motto in her ring entrance. Building on Barbara Tomlinson and George Lipsitz’s concept of insubordinate spaces, this article argues that Reis’s deployment of expressive culture in her insubordinate ring entrance serves as a disruption to neoliberal individualism, ideas of racial authenticity, Indigenous erasure, and gender politics in boxing. The oral herstory and examination of the ring entrance space constitute an important archive that challenges scholars to think about critical sports, ethnic, and cultural studies in new ways, all within a sporting space that has long remained underexamined.