Considerable attention has been paid to the experiences of pain and injury in the sociology of sport literature. In this vein, this paper probes the experience of pain and injury as it pertains to masculinities. This paper documents the specific ways that, on the one hand, athletes conform to masculine ideals through attempts to assume ideal states of embodiment and withstanding pain associated with participation in sport, while on the other hand, through debilitating bodily injury, athletes actually fail to materialise masculine ideals associated with participation in sport. Drawing from an ethnography of mixed martial arts (MMA), this article documents the embodied experiences of pain and injury among MMA fighters. Based on 45 interviews with professional and amateur MMA fighters as well as field notes, this article elucidates the ways fighters interpret their bodily injuries, how this impacts upon masculine identities, and how injuries affect their conformance to the normative masculinity of MMA. This paper focuses on the narratives of despair and loss as it pertains to particular moments in the careers of MMA fighters.

Additional Metadata
Keywords injury, masculinity, mixed martial arts, pain, violence
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2011.653499
Journal Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Citation
Spencer, D. (2012). Narratives of despair and loss: Pain, injury and masculinity in the sport of mixed martial arts. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 4(1), 117–137. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2011.653499