Blows to the Head: How Box­ing Changed My Mind

Bin­nie Klein
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
One sum­mer after­noon walk­ing in her back­yard, Bin­nie Klein broke her ankle and her foot. Her body had betrayed her once again. A refugee from school gym class and camp swim­ming lessons, Klein had nev­er had a good rela­tion­ship with her body. Now mid­dle- aged and resent­ing it, she avoid­ed mir­rors. Despite an active psy­chother­a­py prac­tice and a side­line as the host of an alter­na­tive radio sta­tion music show, she felt sour and dis­con­nect­ed.

It took box­ing to recharge Bin­nie Klein’s life. Fol­low­ing up on the phys­i­cal ther­a­py for her foot and ankle, Klein began work­ing with a per­son­al train­er. Notic­ing a bas­ket of box­ing gloves at the gym, she asked him whether he could teach her to box. From her first punch, Klein dis­cov­ered the phys­i­cal strength and ease she always craved. And dis­cov­er­ing her phys­i­cal strength, she also found the strength to revis­it her per­plex­ing child­hood and the Jew­ish immi­grant expe­ri­ence her fam­i­ly nev­er dis­cussed.

Klein weaves into her own mem­o­ries the sto­ry of Jew­ish box­ing from Daniel Men­doza, the great 18th cen­tu­ry box­er, to Bar­ney Ross, cre­at­ing delight­ful riffs with them.

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions