Jews and sports is an exploration of Jewish identity and integration in the modern world. This was expressed as Jews became fans of sports teams, with the most famous baseball fan in history being an eccentric Jewish woman named Hilda Chester. Jews were always prominent in the labor movement, and it was a Jewish labor organizer named Marvin Miller who, as president of the Player’s Union, successfully rid Baseball of the reserve clause and emancipated the players from the owner’s grip.
During the 1920’s and 30’s Jews were especially prominent in boxing. Benny Leonard and Barney Ross were famous boxing champions, but there were many others as well. Jewish participation in boxing is perhaps the most typical expression of both the struggles of the immigrant generation, along with the process of Americanization.
Several victims of the Holocaust were famous Jewish athletes. Eddy Hamel of the Dutch National Football (soccer) team, Victor Perez the boxer, gymnasts, fencers and others as well. Though they may have been celebrities known for their physical prowess, Nazi racial theory considered them Jews and they suffered the same fate as European Jewry.
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