Mixing Race: The Kong Sing Brothers and Australian Sport

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania on 2013-04-05 04:14Z by Steven

Mixing Race: The Kong Sing Brothers and Australian Sport

Australian Historical Studies
Volume 39, Issue 3 (2008)
pages 338-355
DOI: 10.1080/10314610802263323

Gary Osmond, Lecturer
School of Human Movement Studies
University of Queensland

Marie-Louise McDermott
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia

Little research exists on the participation of Chinese in Australian sport in the colonial or Federation periods. This article examines the involvement of three, hitherto-unknown, amateur sportsmen in late nineteenth-century Sydney—the Kong Sing brothers. Otto, Ophir, and George Kong Sing, sons of a Chinese shopkeeper and white Australian mother, participated in several sports over two decades, enjoying varying degrees of success and recognition. Adopting a mixed-race perspective, this article examines their identity in various contexts as Chinese, Australian, and Anglo-Chinese in order to explore the complexities of racial identity and the lived Chinese Australian experience.

My favourite trivia question in baseball is, ‘Which Italian American player for the Brooklyn Dodgers once hit 40 home runs in a season?’ Nobody ever gets it right, because the answer is Roy Campanella. who was as Italian as he was black. He had an Italian father and a black mother, but he’s always classified as black.

Stephen Jay Gould, 2003

Reformulations of race as socially Constructed, rather than biologically determined, have highlighted the multilayered, hybrid, and complex dimensions of racial identity and it is widely accepted that racial and other cultural identities are shaped by flux, discontinuities, and rupture. Appreciation of the ambivalence of constructed racial identities has challenged the ‘binary categorisations and oppositions of “old” versions of racial difference. Identities of individuals and groups cannot easily and safely be fixed or generalised, despite dominant race-thinking which seeks simple, common racial denominators, as demonstrated in the sporting context by Gould above. His example of Campanella draws attention to the concept of mixed race, around which a substantial literature has grown. As well as acknowledging individual realities, mixed-race…

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