"David Hammons’ 1989 Champ is impeccable and clever, beautiful and sad. The materials are simple: inner tube, (silver) duct tape, and boxing gloves (with laces hanging down). Hammons smartly mixes a deflated sport with deflated materials to examine the role of the prize fighter in American culture, especially black culture. Before the NBA was a dreamed-of escape-valve for urban youth, boxing offered the bruising, difficult way up. Fighters such as Jack Johnson and Joe Louis were heroes to black America, fighters who crossed-over and had success in mainstream society. But with success came tragedy: Louis died broke, his funeral paid for by German rival Max Schmeling. The tragedy went beyond individual figures: Countless young black men hoped boxing would provide a way up but instead were merely pummeled, used as entertainment or in match-fixing schemes, as disposable cogs in brutal entertainment."
Text by Tyler Green, more here