After my post last week about some Hollywood Exhibit cards I figured I should go back and post about an other set of cards I got last year. The 1938 Churchman’s Cigarettes Boxing Personalities set is another one I acquired after falling down the pre-war rabbit hole. I’m not a boxing guy but I also recognize how important it was to American pop culture over most of the last century.
For a set of 50 guys* who were active over 75 years ago in a sport I’ve never really followed, I recognized a lot of the names. Some of them have had movies made about them. Others are truly legends of pop culture which hearken back to an age when boxing in general and the heavyweight title in particular was of national interest.
*Actually 39 since the last 11 cards are of referees and promoters.
Having Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey cards are very cool. My favorite card in the set though is the Joe Louis card because this is a 1938 set so it represents the year that Louis won and solidified his Heavyweight Championship.
I also really like that these are photos. While I love the artwork on a lot of pre-war cards, it’s always nice to be able to see real photographic images of these legends.
The backs of these are great in that they mention each fighter’s key matches and titles won. The Louis and Schmeling cards are especially noteworthy since they show that this set came out late enough in 1938 to mention the results of their fight in June.
While that fight isn’t what won Louis the title, the implications of it beyond boxing put this Louis card in a similar category as my Jesse Owens card as cards that are much much more than just sports. They don’t just involve race relations in the United States, they also touch on World War 2 and stick their thumb in the eye of Nazis and white supremacy.