This article examines Spanish press coverage of boxing upon its entry into Spain's 'media space' during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Our analysis highlights how the mix of fascination, repugnance, and admiration displayed toward the sport were shaped by the broader context of imperial rivalry and anxieties about the purported decline of Spain and other Latin nations vis-a-vis the ascendant Anglo-Saxon nations. Criticizing boxing as brutish and barbaric provided defenders of Spanish identity and tradition with a means of challenging dominant racial and civilizational hierarchies. The bitterly ironic tone of most articles was reflective of the defensiveness engendered by the emasculating military defeats and economic struggles suffered by Spain and its Latin neighbors. Coverage of boxing, however, was not uniformly negative, as Spanish writers displayed admiration for successful French fighters, especially when they defeated Americans or Britons, as their achievements generated reassurance about the ongoing vitality of the Latin race. In this manner, media coverage of boxing served as a conduit for the articulation and transmission of understandings of identity and alterity that traversed national boundaries. Aside from having strong racial components, these understandings were deeply entwined with morally charged notions of masculine virility and cultural civility.