Follow TV Tropes


Black Boxer Stereotype

Go To

Since the Ancient Greeks invented boxing, the title of World Heavyweight Champion has been highly coveted, and the most prominent image is that of a Scary Black Man from the United States of America.

This archetype can be attributed from several sources. The most famous real life inspiration comes from Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, and the most famous fictional example is without question Apollo Creed, presented as the World Heavyweight Champion.

These characters are frequently the antagonist in media, while the protagonist is a Mighty Whitey boxer. If any background information is given about these type of characters, the creators will show that they grew up in poverty, which gave them the desire to fight and the work ethic to make it out of said poverty. They usually have a cocky and arrogant personality which gives the audience more of a reason to root against them. Alongside the cockiness and arrogance, the creators might add aggression and anger to his personality, which usually comes from growing up in the ghetto, or he might be an Angry Black Man due to the racial inequality black people face in his country. He will also be very flashy, and usually, if shown, he will have a entertaining ring walk. His personality usually takes inspiration from Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, two of the most popular boxers of all time. His personality may be closer to one of those two boxers than the other, or sometimes he can have a combination of traits from both.

These types of characters will often be extremely athletic and skilled boxers, which will make the audience think the protagonist has a lot to overcome to defeat them. They will often have a strong will to win and are willing to put their life on the line to beat their opponent. Expect some trash talking from these characters during the fight and before it.

Although it's partially based on that famous boxer, this shouldn't be confused with The Tyson Zone, a trope about crazy things done by a person, based on the things Mike Tyson did outside boxing.

This kind of character can be identified by the following traits


    open/close all folders 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Great White Hype, James "Grim Reaper" Roper, played by Damon Wayans, is a deliberate parody of Tyson.
  • Rocky loves this trope, as a Fighting Series about boxing.
    • Apollo Creed, the World Heavyweight Champion practically embodies America, has both an outfit based on the American flag and has a Casualty in the Ring under his belt. In a similar vein is his illegitimate son Adonis, though to a somewhat lesser extent.
    • Clubber Lang from Rocky III is a brutal Jerkass of a boxer played by Mr. T, as a southpaw From Nobody to Nightmare, he acts as an Evil Counterpart to a Rocky himself.
    • Mason Dixon from Rocky Balboa is a more modern take on this trope: a successful and dominant heavyweight champion from the 2000s, he has everything (money, friends, women, etc.) except the respect of the people, who see him constantly winning his fights with such ease that they assume his opponents must be hopeless bums. As a result, the only people who seem a fair match for Dixon are the greats of the past, and when a computer simulation shows Dixon losing by KO to a prime Rocky Balboa, Dixon's management sees it as an interesting chance for an exhibition just as Rocky is looking at getting his boxing license back.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 4 in a spoof of Million Dollar Baby. Cindy's (female) opponent is a very obvious black transwoman (played by Mike Tyson himself) who goes around biting every one of her opponents' ears off, including the judge's.
  • Inverted in the documentary film When We Were Kings, about the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. In Zaire the populace are surprised to find that Foreman is African-American as well.
  • Subverted and Inverted Creed which is a spinoff from the Rocky film series has a Black boxer as the protagonist and he fulfills only a few of the traits of this trope.
  • Played straight with the Against the Ropes with the White female protagonist finding a guy in ghetto with no boxing experience however she is quickly able to turn him into a world champion Boxer in little time.
  • The end of a brief conversation in The Naked Gun 2½:
    Ed Hocken: You sure know your boxing.
    Frank Drebin: All I know is, never bet on the white guy.
    (Nordberg nods in agreement)

  • H. P. Lovecraft story ''Herbert West: Reanimator" contains a rather cringe-inducing description of a black boxer, comparing him to a gorilla and describing him as being full of "Congo-like secrets."
  • A late Sherlock Holmes story features a black boxer working as an enforcer who likely killed someone in the ring. It's anything but flattering, with Holmes managing to cow him into submission with words alone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in an episode of 1000 Ways to Die. Bobby “Sledgehammer” Jones is a up-and-coming boxer who dresses in women's clothing to de-stress after his training sessions. When he gets accosted by a rapist after one such session, he hits the thug with a right cross strong enough to cause fatal brain trauma after the rapist makes the mistake of calling him a woman.
  • Denshi Sentai Denziman and Kagaku Sentai Dynaman both have shots in their openings of their respective team leaders punching out a black boxer in a boxing ring.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight has Albert King a.k.a. The Gotham Goliath; a very imposing looking heavyweight boxer and one of the five victims in the game who had been infected by The Joker's tainted blood and gained some of The Joker's aspects, most notably white splotches on his skin and Joker's more violent and sadistic personality traits.
  • As the boxing representative, Rob Python from Buriki One is a boxer champion with some bad attitude, but with great fighting skills. Rob has a lot of attitude and doesn't like people who disagree with him, he's also a womanizer and has a lot of tattoos on his body. Rob seems to be modelled after some American boxers as Mike Tyson and George Foreman, as well with some traits of former NBA player Dennis Rodman.
  • Crash of the Titans: Tiny Tiger was retooled to have Mike's signature Vocal Dissonance, downplayed as that's the only Tyson trait he has.
  • Killer Instinct: T.J. Combo fits the Creed role to a t, a black American who was the former Heavyweight Champion before his sponsor Ultratech outed him for using cybernetic enhancements.
  • The King of Fighters: Heavy D! (exclamation point mandatory) is a black boxer who wears the American flag on his jacket sleeve and is quite scary and brash in the ring. Downplayed in that he's a pretty nice person when not in a fight.
  • The Sims: Bustin' Out (more specifically, the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advanced ports) has fitness-obssessed bodybuilder Eddie Renalin, who owns a gym and boxing ring.
  • Punch-Out!!:
    • In the original NES game, Mike Tyson was your final opponent (until his contract expired, leading to the white-skinned Mr. Dream replacing him), and he's by far the most ferocious opponent in the game with his instant-knockdown uppercuts. He's also portrayed in a cocky manner, though he does congratulate Mac after the latter defeats him. Originally the NES Power Punch II game was supposed to be a sequel of the original Punch-Out!!, also starred by Tyson, but because of the Desiree Washington case, the project was scrapped and instead was renamed and Tyson was replaced by a Captain Ersatz version of Tyson called as Mark Tyler.
    • Despite being one of the highest-ranked boxers as well as one of the strongest, Mr. Sandman doesn't show much of this in the Arcade, NES or SNES games. However, he definitely does in the Wii game, not only retaining his power and having an intimidating entrance scene prior to the fight, but also having an angry attitude at all times plus nicknaming Little Mac "Mac baby" to provoke him.
    • Subverted by Doc Louis. The African-American former heavyweight champion can seem imposing, but he is actually quite friendly and cheerful. Just make sure not to knock away his chocolate while training with him, or else he may end up playing the trope straight...
  • Skylanders: While Night Shift doesn't look the part, him biting an opponent in the ring and being banned for an illegal move (that being Teleport Spam) are almost certainly a reference to good ol' iron mike.
  • Street Fighter:
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has Razor Hugh, a former gang member turned pro boxer who has become the heavyweight champ. He has so many cybernetic enhancements he is losing it due to Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, with prototype joints, titanium reinforcements to his bones, and artificial muscles. He's the champ, worth a fortune, and he's bumming in street fights to maintain his rep thanks to his manager.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Semi-recurring character Drederick Tatum, a boxer who has a soft voice, yet is able to intimidate an entire prison into halting a riot just by asking politely.

    Real Life 
  • The trope may have originated following the 1908 match between Jack Johnson and Tommy Burns. Johnson was a black contender who fought the reigning heavyweight champion Burns. Police stopped the fight - and the cameras - in the 14th round, ostensibly to prevent injury to Burns but more likely to prevent the indignity of seeing a white champion beaten by a black challenger. After Johnson's indisputable victory, news media characterized it as the first blow in an "inevitable race war" and hyped a "great white hope" who might defeat Johnson on behalf of the "white race." When Johnson then defeated white boxer James Jeffries, humiliated racists began rioting in many places.
  • Heavyweight champion Joe Louis consciously averted this trope, seeing how most white Americans had reacted to Jack Johnson who was flamboyant and controversially had relationships with white women; Louis' team had a series of seven commandments, including that Louis never have his photo taken with a white woman, to prevent the kind of backlash that Johnson recieved during his title reign. It worked; Louis became the first African-American nation-wide hero in America.