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“Fifty Grand” by Ernest Hemingway (1927) et al.

It is often said that Hemingway’s famous story of a fixed fight, “Fifty Grand” (1927), was inspired by the Carpentier-Siki bout (for which he was at ringside), but a direct connection between the two is in fact less than clear. It has also been suggested that “Fifty Grand” is not about Carpentier-Siki at all but rather about a Jack Britton-Mickey Walker fight [see Phillip G. and Rosemary R Davies, “Hemingway’s ‘Fifty Grand’ and the Jack Britton-Mickey Walker Prize Fight” American Literature 37, no. 3 (November 1965): 251-58].

More obviously linked to Carpentier-Siki is an anecdote in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), about a prizefight in Vienna in which a “wonderful negro” knocks down a “local boy” and is cheated out of his money by unscrupulous promoters angry because he hasn’t followed the agreed-upon scenario in which he would pretend to let his white opponent win.

Hemingway also mentions Carpentier in a little-known novella (his first), published the same year as The Sun Also Rises and one year before “Fifty Grand,” The Torrents of Spring. Carpentier’s name is included in a list of figures and phenomena of popular culture that a character claims she no longer has time to read or “worry” about.