Athletics and Manly Sport/Ethics and Evolution of Boxing
ETHICS AND EVOLUTION OF BOXING.
HAS BOXING A REAL VALUE?
"Both among the Greeks and Romans," says an eminent authority, "the practice of pugilism was considered essential to the education of their youth, from its manifest utility in strengthening the body, dissipating all fear, and infusing a manly courage into the system."
The Greeks and Romans kept boxing in its proper relation to every-day life; not as a brutal exhibition of skill or strength, but as a healthy exercise to invigorate the body, expand the chest, strengthen and quicken the muscles, and render mind and body free, supple, strong, and confident.
"There is nothing that interests me like good boxing," said Sir Robert Peel. "It asks more steadiness, self-control, ay, and manly courage, than any other exercise. You must take as well as give,—eye to eye, toe to toe, and arm to arm."
Mr. Evelyn Denison, once speaker of the House of Commons, describing an interview with Lord Althorp, the minister who led the British Commons when the Reform Bill was passed, says: "Lord Althorp became eloquent; he said that his conviction of the advantages of pugilism was so strong that he had seriously been considering whether it was not a duty that he owed to the public to go and attend every prize fight which took place, and thus to encourage the noble science to the extent of his power."
"We are the Romans of the modern world," says the illustrious "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," speaking of Americans—"the great assimilating people. Conflicts and conquests are, of course, necessary accidents with us, as with our prototypes. And so we come to their style of weapon.... The race that shortens its weapons lengthens its boundaries. Corollary: It was the Polish lance that left Poland at last with nothing of her own to bound.
"What business," continues Dr. Holmes, "had Sarmatia to be fighting for liberty with a fifteen-foot pole between her and the breasts of her enemies? If she had but come to close quarters, there might have been a chance for her."
To these famous and wise men might be added a long list of others, equally distinguished, who appreciated the personal and national value of generations trained to manly exercises, their bodies developed, and their minds calmly confident in the ready power of self-defence.
Take an eminent man of a contrary opinion, and see how few will be ready to agree with him; how many will feel shocked at his word, as the expression of a false and injurious doctrine. Sydney Smith, who liked almost everything that was good, by some queer mental perversion, despised and detested manly exercises. "There is a manliness in the athletic exercises of public schools," he says, "which is as seductive to the imagination as it is utterly unimportant in itself. Of what importance is it in after life whether a boy can play well or ill at cricket, or row a boat with the skill and precision of a waterman? If our young lords and esquires were hereafter to wrestle together in public, or the gentlemen of the bar to exhibit Olympic games in Hilary term, the glory attached to these exercises at public schools would be rational and important. But of what use is the body of an athlete, when we have good laws over our heads, or when a pistol, a post-chaise, or a porter, can be hired for a few shillings? A gentleman does nothing but ride or walk, and yet such a ridiculous stress is laid upon the manliness of the exercises customary at public schools."
How many will say that this is sound doctrine for a man or a community? It is of little importance, perhaps, whether or not a grown man can play cricket or row a boat; but it is of very great importance, no matter how cheap pistols or post-chaises may be, that, in case he were called on, for personal or patriotic duty, to swim or climb for a life, to fight for a child or a woman, to defend his country in the field, he should be ready with a strong body, a stout heart, and a trained hand and mind to raise him over difficulty and danger.
In speaking of boxing, it is not necessary to apologize for prize-fighting or prize-fighters. It is enough to study the growth and worth of boxing as a healthy and manly exercise. But even for the prize-ring, much might be said to show that to it alone is due whatever is known of order and fair play in a personal encounter.
"The rules of the ring" are the condensed opinions of fair-minded men as to what is to be and is not to be allowed in a personal fight, whether public or private (except the London Ring Rules, for which see pages 7 and 89). Every unfair method is condemned; and, no matter how rough the crowd at a personal conflict, a foul blow, or a cruel advantage, is sure to be shouted down as cowardly and disgraceful.
IMPROVEMENT IN MODERN BOXING.
The chief reason why boxing has fallen into disrepute is the English practice of prize-fighting with bare hands, and under improper rules.
The American champion, Sullivan, has done more than attempt to defeat all pugilists who came before him: he has made a manly and most creditable effort to establish the practice not only of sparring, but of fighting, with large gloves; and secondly, he has made the round blow "scientific." He also has insisted, whenever he could, that contests should be ruled by three-minute rounds of fair boxing.
The adoption of gloves for all contests will do more to preserve the practice of boxing than any other conceivable means. It will give pugilism new life, not only as a professional boxer's art, but as a general exercise. The brutalities of a fight with bare hands, the crushed nasal bones, maimed lips, and other disfigurements, which call for the utter abolition of boxing in the interests of humanity, at once disappear when the contestants cover their hands with large, soft-leather gloves.
There is no loss in the quality of the contest either, as those who have seen both kinds of boxing will testify. All that is worth noting and testing of courage, temper, strength, tenacity, endurance, force, rapidity, precision, foresight, can be as completely proven, or rather can be better or more plainly proven, in a glove contest than in a bare-handed fight.
Such a change as is hero contemplated was never dreamt of even ten years ago. British boxing was a lamentable exhibition at all times; but for twenty-five years past it has been sinking lower and lower in disrepute. The greatest and manliest physical exercise has been, for this reason, in danger of complete extinction.
"Surely a precious thing; one worthy note,
Should thus be lost forever from the earth."
It is hoped that the recent bare-handed fight between Sullivan and Mitchell in France will be the last of its brutal kind.
This fight contains in itself a complete illustration of the very worst features of English prize-fighting. The London Ring Rules, under which this contest was conducted, enabled the inferior man to escape, and might easily have made him the victor. These rules (see page 89, Appendix) were apparently meant to prevent, not to insure, fair and manly boxing. Had Mitchell been compelled to stand up and fight for three-minute rounds, and had he been prevented from falling to escape danger, there would have been a fair test of both men's ability. Again, had Sullivan kept to his natural style of fighting, with a masterful spirit compelling his opponent, instead of adopting a slow and watchful method, it would have been far better for him. In fact, everything was against Sullivan, and in favor of the gamblers who evidently ruled the contest. He was overtrained (see pages 108-9 for effect of over-training). He had lost forty pounds in about six weeks, most seriously affecting the weight of his blows; and in this reduction not only had he sacrificed nervous force to muscular power, but he had lost the necessary fat to keep him from getting chilled in THE USUAL, AND WRONG, WAY TO STRIKE A ROUND BLOW. the slow fight ensured by the London Rules.
In America, Sullivan's example has done much to bring glove contests into professional practice; and when the man's faults are rehearsed, it is only fair that this should be remembered. In other respects it is beyond doubt that he is one of the most remarkable boxers in the whole history of the exercise, (see page 75 for analysis of his method of fighting, which of course is a study of the man when at his best.)
Sullivan's second achievement is, undoubtedly, the crystallization of the round blow. This is one of the greatest additions ever made to the pugilism of the ring. The round blow, safely delivered, is the most powerful and effective of all blows.
Sullivan did not invent the round blow. It is as old as boxing; indeed it is one of the natural movements of human attack. It was the leading blow of the Greeks with the brutal cestus, or armed glove. It is the very blow that a strong, ward, ignorant man would strike, and thereby disable himself—for the round blow, wrongly delivered, is far more terrible to the giver than to the receiver.
Formerly, boxers delivered the round blow almost with a straight-arm swing, some with the rVont knuckles leading, and some with the back, and some again with the thumb knuckle, or with the palm or "heel of the fist." But most of
these came off with sprained joints or broken wrists, while their opponents easily escaped the slow swing by "ducking," or threw up the elbow at an acute angle and smashed the delicate bone of the strikers forearm.
The secret of striking the round blow safely lies in the position of the knuckles. Just as in true cutting with a sword, the elbow and knuckles are the test. Ask an unskilled man to make the "cut one" with a sabre (from right to left, horizontally), and he will, assuredly, cut with the back of the sword for two-thirds of the distance. Simply because he keeps his elbow and his knuckles turned up instead of down. And so with all sword-cuts. So, too, with the round blow in boxing. An unskilled boxer will swing
DUCKING THE ROUND BLOW.
(Instantaneous Photograph.) the hand obliciucly upward, with the palm downward or toward his body. Instead, the elbow must be slightly raised, the back of the hand turned toward the body. This brings the striking joints of the hand square in the lead.
A good boxer, in striking the round blow, instead of loosening body and arm, gathers himself into a heap of muscularity and begins his blow where all blows ought to begin, from the solidarity of the right foot. He bends the right arm into an obtuse angle, the elbow slightly raised from the side, and throws the entire weight of body and momentum of released biceps into the blow.
Therefore, it may be said, that the last few years have witnessed a greater permanent advance in boxing than any period since the time of John Broughton, who was the British champion from 1734 to 1750, and who has been, though not very truly, called "the founder of the modern art of self-defence."
ANTIQUITY OF BOXING.
British and Irish athletes have done much for boxing; but an examination of the whole field would lead to the conclusion that "the modern art of self-defence" is not so modern as some people think.
Boxing is the only art of attack and defence which we have as an unbroken inheritance from the ancients.
Every weapon used by men has been changed in use and shape within one thousand, much less two thousand years. The pike, the bow, the mace, the axe, are abandoned. The only ancient weapon that has not been thrown aside is the sword; and that has been doubled in length, and used in quite other ways than the Greek and Roman use.
There is a close relationship between the history of the sword and that of boxing.
Both Greek and Roman used the short sword (average of about twenty inches) undoubtedly as a stabbing weapon—as distinct from a cutting weapon. The only weapon obviously used for cutting among the ancients was the curved sword of the Lacedæmonians and the Irish, specimens of which can be seen in the Royal Irish Academy Museum, and which almost exactly resembled the present scimetar of the Persians.
All the gladiatorial sword fights of the Romans were with the short, straight sword, like a Scottish claymore; and when the hapless loser threw up his hands and the people shouted "Hoc Habet!" (" He has got it!") they knew that the victor had driven his straight weapon between his opponent's ribs.
But with the northern conquest of Rome the use of the straight sword, or rather the use of the point as the principal means of attack, practically disappeared for over a thousand years, and when it came again, it was in the long, light rapier play of the Italian and French schools of fence.
But all this time the boxing skill of Greek and Roman must have come traditionally and practically down from father to son, the only change being in the dropping of the hand-weights and bandages. GREEK BOXERS WITH THE CESTUS.
When Pollux obtahied the boxing victory at the Pythian games, he wore gloves or leathern bandages filled with lead and iron. When Sullivan defeats his man, he uses soft gloves filled with curled hair. This is the change of time and judgment. The latter is the better test. A chance blow from the heavy cestus cracked a man's skull or broke his arm. There are no chance blows in a first-rate modern fight with gloves.
But, so far as we can find, the "set-to" of the Greek and Roman boxers was not unlike modern pugilism. The records are rather vague as to the ancient manner of giving and guarding blows, but there are some writings and numerous drawings and carvings showing that the position and action of the engaged boxers were precisely then as they are to-day.
In a Greek drawing of boxers with the cestus now before me, one of the men stands in a most approved modern attitude, the left foot and hand advanced, the left arm slightly bent, and the right arm held across the lower chest, just as a careful boxer of to-day covers "the wind" or "the point."
The Greeks were the first boxers. Pugilism appears to have been one of the earliest distinctions in play and exercise that appeared between the Hellenes and their Asiatic fathers. The unarmed personal encounter was indicative of a sturdier manhood. The suppleness and adroitness of the Oriental were supplanted by the heavier build and more direct attack of the European.
The modern Englishman claims for his country the invention of the art of boxing, at least with skill and bare hands.
"James Figg was the father of boxing," says "The History of British Boxing," and "Broughton was the first man who taught countering and parrying and bending to escape a Blow." This
RAW-HIDE CESTUS FROM
HERCULANEUM. claims quite too much. Two thousand five hundred years ago Greek boxers used only their bare hands. They did nothing rudely, or incompletely, in Greece; and their exercise must have been much the same as ours. Later, as the contests at the great national games of Greece became fiercely earnest, the hands and arms were surrounded with thongs of leather, at first reaching to the wrists, like our "hard gloves," then carried up to the elbow, and afterward extending up to the shoulder, the hands being heavily weighted and knobbed with lead and iron.
The cestus of the Greeks, copied by the Romans, was a dreadful boxing glove, or gauntlet, composed of raw-hide thongs and metal. A tremendous cestus found in Hereulaneum, was composed of several thicknesses of raw hide fastened together and rounded on the edge. Holes were, cut through for the fingers, and the thumb overlapped the side.
It is evident from this cestus that there were no "straight blows" in Greek boxing when it was used. A "straight counter" would obviously break the striker's fingers, for the striking point is inside the raw-hide plates. This cruel boxing glove could only have been used for round blows, or for the absurd old English blow called "the chopper," which was delivered by the back of the hand in an outward and downward swing.
THE ROUND CESTUS.
Here (as Greek art tells us) is the form of cestus used by Pollux, one of the twin brothers who "fought their way like Hercules himself to a seat on Mt. Olympus."
These twins, the Dioscuri, presided over all Greek games. Castor being the god of equestrianism, Pollux the god of boxing.
In those golden days, Amycus, son of Neptune, was king of the Bebryccs, and he was a famous boxer with the cestus; indeed, he called himself "the champion of the world" He kept a standing challenge to all comers. When the Argonauts were going to Colchis for the golden fleece, they touched at the port of Amycus, and were received most kindly by the king, who was evidently "spoiling for a fight." He told his guests after dinner that he could "knock out" any boxer in Greece or elsewhere; that he could, as modern challengers express it, "send them to sleep."
Among the Argonauts was Pollux, who had lately been winning the first prizes at the Pythian games. He accepted the challenge, not knowing that it was the custom of Amycus to kill his man with a foul blow. The fight came off, and it was a resolute controversy. Amycus tried all his skill and strength to deliver his wicked blow, but now he had met a mighty man. At last Amycus tried to get in his deadly stroke by a trick, and this roused the wrath of Pollux, who straightway killed the unfair fighter, and bound his body to a tree. The form of cestus on the preceding page is from an antique bronze representing the battle.
THE ATHLETES OF ANCIENT GREECE.
The term "athlete" was applied in Greece only to those who contended in the public games for prizes, exclusive of musical and other contests where bodily strength was not needed. It was not applied to what we call amateurs, or those who exercised without the incentive of a prize. The "athletes" were the distinct forerunners of the trained fighting men who became a professional class in Greece (400-300 b. c). It was not the value of the prizes themselves which led men to devote their lives to athletic exercises. That was at most very insignificant. But, from the heroic legends of competitions for prizes, such as those at the funeral of Patroclus, from the great antiquity of the four national games of Greece (the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian, with the local Panathenæa at Athens), and from the high social position of the competitors in early times, there gradually became attached to each victory in one of these games so much glory that the townsmen of a victor were ready to, and frequently did, erect a statue to him, receive him in triumph, and care for him the rest of his life.
The actual prizes offered at the Greek national games were of no intrinsic value. The highest reward was the sense of having done well. At the Olympian games the victor was crowned with olive; at the Pythian games, with laurel; at the Nemean games, with parsley; and at the Isthmian games with pine.
But though the Greek games, in this respect, favorably compare with the gambling and greed of our modern race-course or other contest, the reward of the victor was not wholly comprised in his olive crown, or his sense of glory. The successful athlete received splendid rewards. At the Olympic games, a herald proclaimed to the multitude the winner's name, his parentage, and his country; the priests took from a table of ivory and gold the olive crown and placed it on his head, and in his hand a branch of palm; as he marched in the sacred procession to the Temple of Zeus, his admirers showered flowers in his path, and costly gifts, and sang the old victor song of Archilochus. His name was then inscribed in the Greek Calendar. "Fresh honors and rewards awaited him on his return home," says F. Storr. "If he was an Athenian, he received, according to the law of Solon, five hundred drachmæ, and free rations for life in the Prytaneum; if a Spartan, he had the post of honor in battle. Great poets like Pindar, Sinionidcs, and Euripides sung his praises, and sculptors like Phidias and Praxiteles were engaged by the State to carve his statute. . . Altars were built, and sacrifices offered to a successful athlete."
No wonder, then, that an Olympian prize was regarded as the crown of human happiness.
Cicero tells the story of Diagoras of Rhodes, who, having himself won a first prize at Olympia, and seen his two sons crowned as winners on the same day, was addressed by a Laconian in these words: "Die, Diagoras, for thou hast nothing short of divinity to desire." Alcibiades, when declaring his services to the State, puts first his victory at Olympia, and the prestige he had won at Athens for his magnificent display.
But, perhaps, the most remarkable evidence of the value the Greeks attached to athletic powers is a casual expression of Thucydides, when describing the enthusiastic reception of Brasidas at Scione. "The Government," he says, "voted him a crown of gold, and the multitude flocked round him and decked him with garlands, as though he were an athlete."
THE TRAINING OF GREEK ATHLETES.
Against specially trained athletes the better class of Greek citizens refused to compete, and the lists of the public games being thus left practically open to professionals, training became more a matter of system and study, particularly in regard to diet, which was rigorously prescribed for the athletes by a public functionary.
At one time the principal food of Greek athletes consisted of fresh cheese, dried figs, and wheaten bread. Afterward meat was introduced, generally beef or pork; but the bread and meat were taken separately, the former at breakfast and the latter at dinner. Except in wine, the quantity was unlimited, and the capacity of some of the heavy weights must have been enormous, if such stories are true as those about Milo.
Milo was not a boxer, but a wrestler. He was six times victor at the Olympian games. He was a great soldier, a successful general. He carried a four-year-old heifer on his shoulders through Olympia, and afterward eat the whole of it in one day. Poor Milo, strong as he was, died horribly in the end. Passing through a forest one day, he saw the trunk of a tree that had been partially split open. He tried to rend it farther, but the wood closed on his hands, and while he was thus held he was devoured by wolves.
The training of Greek athletes consisted, beside the ordinary gymnastic exercises of the palæstra, in carrying heavy loads, lifting weights, bending iron rods, striking at a suspended leather sack filled with sand or flour, taming bulls, etc. Boxers had to practise delving the ground to strengthen their upper limbs. The competitions open to atfiletes were in running, leaping, throwing the discus, wrestling, boxing, and the Pancratium or a combination of boxing and wrestling.
Victory in this last was the highest achievement of an athlete, and was reserved only for men of extraordinary strength. The competitors were naked, having their bodies salved with oil.
An athlete could begin his career as a boy in contests set apart for boys, He could appear again as a youth against his equals, and, though always unsuccessful, could go on competing until the age of thirty-five, when he was debarred, it being assumed that after that period of life, he could not improve. The most celebrated Greek athletes whose names have been handed down, beside those above mentioned, are Milo, Hipposthenes, Hercules, Eryx, Antæeus, Epeus, Euryalus, Entellus, Polydamus, Promachus and Glaucus.
Cyrene, famous in the time of Pindar for its athletes, appears to have still maintained its reputation to at least the time of Alexander the Great, for in the British Museum are to be seen six prize vases carried off from the games at Athens by natives of that district. These vases, found in the tombs of the winners, are made of clay, and are painted on one side with a representation of the contest in which they were won, and on the other side with a figure of Pallas Athenæ, with an inscription telling where they were gained, and in some cases adding the name of the magistrate of Athens, from which the exact year can be obtained.
THE SACRED GAMES OF GREECE.
It is not to be doubted that the Greek boxers attained to a high degree of skill in countering and parrying. No awkward or unskilled athletes were allowed to appear at the Olympian or other national games, where boxing was one of the five principal exercises. At the Olympian games, the order was leaping, running, throwing, boxing, wrestling.
It may be truly said that the supremacy of Greece as the teacher of the Western and Northern world in all the higher forms of civilization, was intimately related to the marvellous competition of physical and intellectual manhood in these "sacred games. So profoundly was the Greek mind affected by the games, which were held every four years at Olympia, that time was divided into Olympiads, and this method of reckoning continued for many centuries.
Prizes at these games were given not only for athletic exercises, but for music, singing, oratory, and poetry. Herodotus read his history at the Olympic, and Orpheus won the first prize for music at the Pythian games. Alcibiades, the Athenian scholar, soldier, ruler, says Plutarch, was the most successful and the most magnificent in his exercises of all that ever contended in these games. He obtained at one solemnity (the Olympic, which lasted five days), the first, second, and fourth prizes for chariot-racing.
There is a lesson for moderns in these national games of Greece. There was no other occasion on which the Greek was so forcibly impressed with the glory of his own race and nationality. The games were opened to all Greeks. There was no exemption—except for women.
There was a rigorous law that if any woman was found so much as to have passed the river Alpheus during the Olympian games, she was to be thrown headlong from a rock; and this continued until Pherenice, who went disguised to attend on her son while he wrestled, was apprehended and tried. She was acquitted, out of respect to her father, brothers and son, who had all won first prizes at the games. Afterward women were admitted, and then even contended at the games. Cynisca, the daughter of Archidamus, was the first woman who was crowned at Olympia; and after her, many women, especially those of Macedonia, were crowned as the winners of prizes.
The Romans also excluded women; but Augustus allowed them to witness the gladiatorial fights, and assigned them a place in the highest seats of the amphitheatre.
Rich and poor among the Greeks were allowed to enter on the same terms. The preparatory course was long, arduous, and not to be escaped. Every competitor was obliged to give ten months' training before he was allowed to enter the games. The public gymnasium was at Elis, and thither the competitors had to go for the ten months of training.
This rule was so important that if a man won a prize and it was then found that he had evaded any portion of this long training, the prize was given to his opponent, thus showing the value laid upon the continuous physical education by those in authority.
To guard against gambling and dishonorable practices, contenders had to swear that they had fulfilled the conditions of entering; and they, their fathers and brethren took, also, a solemn oath, that they would not, by an unfair or unlawful means, endeavor to stop or interfere with the proceedings of the games.
It is not likely that athletes trained in this manner were inferior boxers, nor that they were ignorant of such primary principles as countering and parrying.
THE SKILL OF GREEK BOXERS.
It is easy to prove that the Greek was a master not only of the straight-counter (which any man who used a short, straight sword would naturally learn), but of the cross-counter, one of the most skilful and effective blows known to modern boxing.
In Homer's time, the cross-counter, which is supposed to be comparatively a recent discovery in pugilism, was clearly understood. Let any one who understands boxing follow the movements in this description by Homer of the bare-handed fight between Ulysses and the ruffian Irus. The ruffian, a giant in size, has grossly insulted Ulysses, who is in disguise, and a ring is formed by a lot of idlers eager to see a fight.
The bully, Irus, like all bullies, is a coward. He has watched Ulysses stripping, and is terrified when he realizes the kind of man he has aroused. But he is dragged to the scratch, and as they face each other, Ulysses, disgusted at his cringing cowardice, concludes that he is not worth killing, and that he will only "knock him out." Just then Irus strikes out savagely—he "led with his left," in the parlance of the gymnasium. We know it was his left, because the blow fell on Ulysses' right shoulder. Says Homer, who evidently knew just what he was describing:
"On his right shoulder Irus laid his stroke;
Ulysses struck him just beneath the ear,
His jawbone broke, and made the blood appear;
When straight he strewed the dust."
Now, this was a straight-cross-counter, accurately described, and it tells a whole story of striking and parrying, as we shall see presently. Here is another rendering of the same fight from Pope's translation:
"That instant Irus his huge arm extends,
Full on his shoulder the rude weight descends,
The sage Ulysses fearful to disclose
The hero latent in the man of woes,
Cheek'd half his might, yet, rising to the stroke,
His jawbone dash'd; the crashing jawbone broke.'*
Now, let us analyze this engagement. Iras leads with his left at Ulysses' head, and his blow falls on the right shoulder. Therefore, Ulysses
did just what to-day Sullivan or Smith would do; he moved his head to the left, and let the blow come full on his right shoulder—with a purpose. For he, at the same moment, "rising to the stroke," crossed Irus' arm with his right, "struck him just beneath the ear," broke his jaw, and knocked him out. He must have done this, for there was no other way of breaking Irus' jaw. He could not have struck him with his left, for Irus' jaw was nearer to his right.
This straight cross-counter, which the Greeks knew, is the most effective and the most powerful blow that can be given, except the round blow.
Of the fight between the heavy-weight Epeus and Euryalus, after the funeral of Patroclus, here is a report:
"Him great Tydides urges to contend,
Warm with the hopes of conquest for his friend;
Officious with the cincture, girds him round,
And to his wrists the gloves of death are hound.
Amid the circle now each champion stands,
And poises high in air his iron hands;
With clashing gauntlets now they fiercely close,
Their crackling jaws reëcho to the blows.
And painful sweat from all their members flows.
At length Epeus dealt a weighty blow
Full on the cheek of his unwary foe;
Beneath the ponderous arms' resistless sway
Down dropped he nerveless, and extended lay."
Here we see that the Greek boxer wore a belt like the modern, and that he fought in a ring; but of the details of this fight we can judge nothing.
There is a boxing match, however, in the "Æneid," between Dares and the aged Entellus, in which the manner of the fight is given more clearly, and from which we learn that there was a complete system of striking and parrying, and, at least, one of the boxers was an adept at "ducking" and "getting away;"
"This said, Entellus for the fight prepares,
Stripped of his quilted coat, his body bares:
Composed of mighty bones and brawn he stands,
A goodly, towering object on the sands.
Then just Æneas equal arms supplied,
Which round their shoulders to their wrists they tied.
Both on the tip-toe stand, at full extent,
Their arms aloft, their bodies inly bent;
Their heads from aiming blows they bear afar,
With clashing gauntlets then provoke the war.
Yet equal in success, they ward, they strike,
Their ways are different, but their art alike.
Before, behind, the blows are dealt; around
Their hollow sides the rattling thumps resound;
A storm of strokes, well meant, with fury flies,
And errs about their temples, ears, and eyes;
Nor always errs, for oft the gauntlet draws
A sweeping stroke along the crackling jaws.
Hoary with age, Entellus stands his ground,
But with his warping body wards the wound.
His hand and watchful eye keep even pace,
While Dares traverses and shifts his place.
With hands on high, Entellus threats the foe;
But Dares watched the motion from below.
And slipped aside, and shunned the long-descending blow.
Entellus wastes his forces on the wind,
And, thus deluded of the stroke designed,
Headlong and heavy fell."
There was much more than rude "give-and-take" in this fight. It was skilful boxing, even from a modern stand-point.
THE GLADIATORS OF ROME.
Among the Romans, fond as they were of exhibitions of physical skill and strength, the profession of athlete was entirely an exotic, and was, even under the empire, with difficulty transplanted from Greece. The system, and the athletes themselves, were always purely Greek.
The vicious luxury of imperial Rome had degraded the gymnasium into the circus, and the athlete into the gladiator. The gladiatorial shows of the emperors were sign enough that a cruel and abominable power was preparing for its own destruction.
The first gladiatorial shows were exhibited in the Forum Boarium, 264 B.C., by Marcus and Decimus Brutus, at the funeral of their father. This was an evident survival of the still more ancient custom of sacrificing slaves and prisoners on the graves of illustrious chieftains. Only three pairs fought on this occasion; but the taste grew like fire for these shows, and the number of combatants increased rapidly. Titus Flaminius, in 174 B.C., celebrated his father's obsequies by a three-days' fight with seventy-four gladiators. Julius Cæesar exhibited three hundred pairs in one show; and during the later years of the republic the gladiators had grown so powerful, every nobleman employing a body-guard of them, that they kept the city in a state of constant peril and unrest.
Under the empire, notwithstanding prohibitory laws, the passion for the gladiatorial shows steadily increased. One hundred pairs was the fashionable number for a private entertainment. It was a debauch of blood and cruelty. The vile Claudius would sit in his chair of state from morning till night, watching the bloody work. and descending now and then to urge the hesitating fighters, who were at once monsters and victims. Under Nero, senators, and even women of the noble families, appeared as combatants. Titus ordered a gladiatorial show that lasted a hundred days; and Trajan, in one triumphal show, exhibited five thousand pairs of gladiators. Domitian, at the Saturnalia of 90 A.D., ordered a battle between dwarfs and women. It was over a hundred years later (200 A.D.) that a law was passed against female gladiators.
Throughout the whole Roman empire had spread this horrible passion for human conflict to the death. "From Britain to Syria," says F. Storr, "there was not a town of any size that could not boast its arena and annual games." The following inscription from the pedestal of a statue shows the feeling of the provinces:
"In four days, at Minturnæ, he showed eleven pairs of gladiators, who did not cease fighting till one half, all the most valiant men in Campania, had fallen. You remember it well, noble fellow-citizens."
Gladiators were commonly drawn from prisoners of war, slaves, or criminals condemned to death. The populace of Rome, drunken with the cruel sights, gloated on every fresh batch of tattoed Britons who were marched in chains into the city. They rejoiced at the sight of Thracians, with their strange bucklers, floors, and Negroes. Even these grew scarce in time; and then Caligula and Nero, to meet the demand for victims, ordered all those guilty of minor offences, such as fraud, peculation, etc., to take their chances in the arena. Men of birth and fortune, for pure love of fighting, sometimes fought as gladiators; and one emperor, Commodus, actually appeared in person in the arena.
Professional gladiators were trained in schools, owned either by the State or private citizens. It was a legitimate enterprise to own gladiators and hire them out.
Sometimes a gladiator of great prowess became famous; and then his fortune was made. The great poets praised him, and money and honors were showered on him; but the horrible trade was detestable to brave men, and yet there were thousands of brave men condemned to it for life. "We cannot forget," says Gibbon, "the desperate courage of about fourscore gladiators, reserved, with near six hundred others, for the inhuman sports of the amphitheatre. Disdaining to shed their blood for the amusement of the populace, they killed their keepers, broke from their place of confinement, and filled Rome with blood and confusion. After an obstinate resistance, they were overpowered and cut in pieces by the regular forces; but they obtained, at least, an honorable death and the satisfaction of a just revenge."
"There are few finer characters in Roman history," says Storr, "than the Thracian Spartacus, who escaped from the gladiators' school of Lentulus, at Capua, and for three years defied the legions of Rome."
The gladiators fought with various weapons; the Samnites, with a short sword, a plumed helmet, and a shield; the Thracians, with a round buckler and a dagger; some others with a net and a trident, some with a lasso, and many with the deadly cestus.
The public interest in the shows may be judged from the fact that in the Circus Maximus there were seats for three hundred and fifty thousand; or, as Juvenal says, "it held the whole of Rome."
When the debauched people tired of merely human blood, the wilds of the world were ransacked for wild beasts to fight with each other and with the gladiators. The generals and proconsuls were ordered in far countries to purchase giraffes, tigers, lions, and crocodiles! Sulla, in a single show, had one hundred lions. Pompey had six hundred lions, besides elephants, which fought Gætulian hunters. When the Colosseum was opened nine thousand beasts were killed!
The cestus of the Roman gladiators was even more terrible than that of the Greeks. In Greece the end desired was skill and courage and strength; in Rome the desire was for death. The death of an antagonist, unless by accident, was severely punished in Greece; but in Rome the sooner the gladiator killed his man the better.
All the great writers and speakers of Rome praised and approved the gladiatorial shows, including Cicero, Pliny, and even the good Marcus Aurelius. The first word against the shows was spoken by the Christian fathers, Tertullian, Lactantius, Cyprian, and Augustine.
The first Christian emperor of Rome abolished the games by an edict, in 325 A. D.; but they continued down to the time of St. Augustine. To a Christian martyr, Telemachus, belongs the honor of their final abolition. In 404, there came from the East on this sacred mission a monk named Telemachus. When the terrible fight was most intense, he rushed into the arena, and endeavored to separate the combatants. He was instantly killed, by order of the prætor; but the Emperor Honorius, on hearing the report, abolished the games, which were never afterwards revived.
FEUDALISM SUPPRESSED POPULAR ATHLETIC EXERCISES.
With the advent of chivalry, the art of boxing waned. The evolution of feudal aristocracy, with other and widely different exercises, pastimes and weapons from those of the common people, made boxing unfashionable.
With the advance of feudalism came the growth of iron armor, until, at last, a fighting-man resembled an armadillo. He was iron-clad from top to toe. His weapons had changed accordingly. The short sword of the Greek and Roman soldier, good for a stout hand-to-hand fight, was replaced by a long and heavy blade and a ponderous iron-spiked mace.
Boxing in those days came to be regarded as mere child's play, or as the rude pastime of the vulgar.
The baron was a mounted man, who jousted with a ten-foot lance, and fought dismounted with an axe, or a sword five or six feet long, double-hilted, weighing from eight to twelve pounds.
The student of sociology will find in the history of the sword alone a key to the political and social classifications of Europe, and, probably, of Asia also, could we trace the evolution of its military arms and methods.
In all countries and times where the common man was ready and able to fight, singly and combined, freedom was at its highest. The ability of the common man to assert himself is everywhere and always the measure of popular liberty.
The growth of armaments and governments everywhere corresponds with the decrease of personal and popular freedom. This may be followed from the fist, staff, or knife of the peasant or mechanic, to the sword of the "gentleman," the lance, horse, and armor of the lord, the multiplied muskets of the king, and the Krupp guns and iron-clads of the emperor.
The knowing how to fight makes common men self-reliant and independent. A people are preparing for their own subjection to a class, or a tyranny, where a generation is allowed to grow up without physical training and emulation.
It has always been the aim of royalty and aristocracy to lower the individual liberty and independence of the common people.
A baron and a minute-man could not breathe the same air.
Every boy in a free country ought to be instrcuted in boxing, wrestling and the use of weapons. Every young man ought to be drilled. Every householder ought, at least, to have a right to own a rifle, and should know how to make cartridges. Then the moral forces will cement the popular self-respect and independence into a solid wall of civilization.
Nothing could better illustrate the helplessness of a people taken by surprise by a small, well-organized, and usurping class, than the invasion and conquest of England by the Normans. These foreign land robbers seized the surface of the country, which they hold to this day. They took possession of fields and farmers together, built their frowning towers on the hills and passes, organized and exercised their own forces, and set about a complete and permanent disorganization and disarmament of the English masses.
Their first step in this direction was the abolition of warlike exercises, games, and customs. The basis of English liberty was the ancient system of wapentake, which was equivalent to the town meeting of New England. (Were this the place to consider it, the similarity of these two truly English systems of home rule might be interestingly treated ) Under the system of wapentake, every community in Saxon England selected its own local government, and knew no other ruling but that of the king's judges. The political unit was a family, not a person. Ten families were called a tything, thirty a trything, one hundred a township called by that name. These old Saxon divisions still exist in the "ridings" (trythings) and "hundreds" of the northern English counties.
The local authority was settled yearly, each family of the hundred sending its head to a meeting, where one was selected as the leader or justice of the community. When this selection was made, the selectman lowered his spear, and all the others came forward and touched it with their own.
This was the wapentake, or weapon-touch; and there was no higher authority than this in Saxon England, except the king.
The system of wapentake was abolished in the following manner: the Conqueror William divided England into sixty thousand shares, or shires, to each of which was appointed a Norman knight as owner and lord. This was the formal introduction into England of the feudal system, in 1086, by the Great Council of the realm, assembled at Sarum.
As soon as the Norman knights took their shires these became the political units instead of the hundreds, and to each of these they appointed a king's officer to take the place of the selectman of the wapentake. The king's officer was called a sheriff (from the words shire and reeve, or keeper).
The leaderless English people were without organization or national purpose. They had to submit and see their ancient and beloved customs and liberties trodden under foot.
Then their new masters, the knights, set about quietly disarming the people. They also discountenanced all popular military customs, and even the usual athletic exercises and games.
Within a single generation the people had rendered up their arms and local rights to the knights, who were bound only to help the king in his wars.
Before the conquest, every Englishman was a spearman or bowman, and quarter-staff and other lusty exercises were the common pastime of the people. That was the time when England was called, and deservedly, "Merrie England."
Addison, writing about popular exercises ("Spectator," No. 161), alludes to "an old statute which obliged every man in England, having such an estate, to keep and exercise the longbow ;" by which means, he says, "our ancestors excelled all other nations in the use of that weapon, and we had all the real advantages without the inconvenience of a standing army."
Under the Norman landlords the sports and exercises of the common Englishman were degraded into rudeness, until "Hodge," the name his insolent master gave him and still gives him, knew nought of athletic skill except a crude form of wrestling with body-holds. The bow, the pike, or spear, and even the quarter-staff, were taken from him, and the skilful use of these weapons was forgotten in the land.
The knight wanted no fighting men except those whom he enlisted and trained for his own or the king's service. The others had better be unskilled, unlearned, undisciplined and uncouth breeders and producers of the necessary wealth from the soil, menials and payers of land-rent.
This degradation of manly and military exercises continued in England for six centuries. It began to change only in the early part of the last century.
In Ireland it continues still. "There are no boxers in Ireland," said a travelled athlete to me the other day. No; the landlord government has been able to continue the Irish popular disorganization. Foot-ball, hurling, wrestling, and boxing were frozen out. When Donnelly defeated the English champions in the early part of this century, it was considered a dangerous example and precedent for Irishmen; and from that time the people have been legislated, educated, and governed into ignorance of all means of attack and defence, and of everything but work in the fields.
But within a few years the Irish people have begun resolutely to play the old heroic games of the Gael once more, as their English brothers had long gone back to the manly exercises of the Saxon.
In the first quarter of the last century, the arts of boxing, sword-play, and quarter-staff were beginning to attract public attention in Great Britain and Ireland. But these exercises were in an extremely rude condition. There was, especially for boxing, no unity of knowledge, no well-known teachers, no established rules. The idea of a national championship was not yet born.
THE FIRST MODERN CHAMPION BOXER.
In 1719 appears the first English pugilist who can be considered as a national champion. His name was James Figg. He had an "academy" for manly exercises in Tottenham Court Road, London.
Like all the boxing masters of that time, and for a long time after, Figg was also a professional swordsman and quarter-staff player. His card read as follows:
Master of ye Noble Science of Defence on ye right hand in Oxford road near Adam & Eve court, teaches gentlemen ye use of ye small backsword and quarterstaff, at home and abroad.
But in Figg's day (1719-34) boxing had evidently not been reduced to any intelligent rules, though his cards professed to teach "defence scientifically." Figg himself was so famous for "stops and parries," that he is mentioned in the "Tatler," "Guardian" and "Craftsman," the foremost literary papers of the time. He is described by Capt. Godfrey, a famous patron of the athletes of his day, as "a matchless master." "There was a majesty shone in his countenance," says Godfrey, " and blazed in all his actions beyond all I ever saw. His right leg bold and firm, and his left, which could hardly ever be disturbed, gave him surprising advantage, and struck his adversary with despair and panic."
The "backsword" of Figg's time still remains a favorite exercise in England. It is a rude sword-exercise, all cuts and parries, as if the sword had no point.
One of the mysteries of sword-knowledge is the length of time which some nations took to learn that the effective part of the weapon was SET-TO. the point and not the edge. The point of a sword, during an engagement, is never more than two feet from an opponent's body, while the edge for a cutting-blow is from four to seven feet (in sweeping cuts, for instance).
Besides the advantage in space and time, the wound of the point is apt to pierce the vitals, while the wound of the edge is a mere surface cut or bruise.
And yet, how few nations have straightened their sabres and sharpened their points!
The absurd old "backsword" play, with a "hanging guard," is the only exercise safe for the vile, curved sabres that even American cavalry are equipped with to-day.
But in Figg's time, the professional fighting-man was really a master-of-weapons. Here, for instance, is a specimen of the usual method of advertising a coming fight:—
"At the Bear Garden in Hockley on the Hole.
"A trial of skill to be performed between two profound Masters of the Noble Science of Defence, on Wednesday next, being this 13th of the instant July, 1709, at two of the clock precisely.
"I, George Gray, born in the city of Norwich, who has fought in many parts of the West Indies, and was never yet worsted, and now lately come to London, do invite James Harris to meet and exercise at these following weapons, viz. :—
|Back Sword||Single Falchon|
|Sword & Dagger,||and|
|Sword & Buckler,||Case of Falchons.|
"I, James Harris, Master of the Noble Science of Defence, who formerly rid in the Horse-guards, and hath fought a hundred and ten prizes, and never left a stage to any man; will not fail (God willing) to meet this brave and bold Smiter at the time and place appointed, desiring sharp swords and no favor.
Other challenges, with the above weapons, add the quarter-staff.
Figg was the first master to include boxing in his challenges, of which the following is a specimen:—
"At Mr. Figg's Now Amphitheatre, Joyning to his House, the sign of the City of Oxford, in Oxford Road, Marybone Fields, on Wednesday next, being the eighth of June, 1726, will be perform'd a tryal of skill by the foliowing Masters.
"Whereas, I, Edward Sutton, Pipemaker from Gravesend, and Kentish Professor of the Noble Science of Defence, having, under a sleeveless Pretence been deny'd a Combat by and with the Extoll'd Mr. Figg, which I take to be occasioned through fear of his having that Glory eclipsed by me, wherewith the eyes of all Spectators have been so much dazzled: Therefore, to make appear, that the great applause which has so much puff'd up this Hero has proceeded only from his Foyling such as who are not worthy the name of Swordsmen, as also that he may be without any farther excuse, I do hereby dare the said Mr. Figg to meet as above and dispute with me the Superiority of Judgement with the sword (which will best appear by Cuts etc.,) at all the Weapons he is or shall be then Capable of Performing on the Stage.
"I, James Figg, Oxonian Professor of the said science, will not fail giving this daring Kentish Champion an Opportunity to make good his Allegations; when, it is to be hoped, if he finds himself Foyl'd he will then change his Tone, and not think himself one of the Number who are not worthy the name of Swordsmen, as he is please to signifie by his Expression: However, as the most Significant Way of deciding these Controversies is by Action, I shall defer what I have to Act until the Time above specified; when I shall take care not to deviate from my usual Custom, in making all such Bravadoes sensible of their Error, as also in giving all Spectators intire satisfaction.
"N.B. The doors will be open at Four, and the masters mount between Six and Seven exactly.
Though Figg was, undoubtedly, a notable boxer, he was more a teacher than a fighter, and his engagements were more with swords than fists.
The first real fighting champion of England, and certainly one of the most influential boxers of the last century, was John, or "Jack" Broughton, who is usually placed fifth or sixth on the list of champions. Broughton was a man of splendid physique, just one inch short of six feet, handsome of face and tremendously powerful. He was also gentle and good tempered, which made him numerous friends.
THE FIRST MODERN RULES OF THE RING.
Broughton was the first man who made regular rules for modern boxing. Up to his time (and long after it, indeed), a prize-fight was a rough-and-tumble scrimmage, in which the men might choke each other, wrestle, butt with the head, trip, and strike a man on his knees.
Says the author of "Fistiana":
"The inhuman practices of uncivilized periods have subsisted to a disgraceful extent, and hence we have heard of gouging, purring, kicking a man with nailed shoes as he lies on the ground, striking him in vital parts below the waistband, seizing him when on his knees, and administering punishment till life be extinct, and a variety of other savage expedients by which revenge or passion has been gratified. In Lancashire, even to this day, when a man is got down he is kept down and pimished until incapable of motion—a mode of fighting which is permitted with impunity, unless, indeed, the death of the victim lead to the apprehension and trial of the survivor."
"Broughton's Rules," as they were called for nearly a century, were "produced for the better regulation of the amphitheatre, approved by the gentlemen, and agreed to by the pugilists, Aug. 1743." They continued in force till "The New Rules of the Ring" were adopted in 1838. The following were "Broughton's Rules," and they tell their own story:
"1. That a square yard be chalked in the middle of the stage, from which the men shall begin the fight; and every fresh set-to after a fall or being parted from the rails, each second is to bring his man to the side of the square and place him opposite the other.
"2. After a fall, if the second does not bring his man to the side of the square within the space of half a minute, he shall be deemed a beaten man.
"3. That no person shall be upon the stage except principals and seconds.
"4. That no man be deemed beaten unless he fails coming up to the line in the limited time, or that his own second declares him beaten.
"5. The winning man to have two-thirds of the money.
"6. The principals to choose two umpires, who shall choose a referee.
"7. That no boxer is to hit his adversary when he is down, or seize him by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist; a man on his knees to be reckoned down."
The regard that Englishmen had for boxing in the last century may be judged from an article in the "Connoisseur" (Aug. 22, 1754).
"Every man," says the "Connoisseur," "who has the honor of the British fist at heart must look with admiration on the bottom, the wind, the game of this invincible champion, Slack."
This praise followed Slack's fight with Petit, a full report of which was published in the "Connoisseur," which was one of the first literary publications of the period. It is interesting to observe what kind of a fight was this. I quote from the "Connoisseur:"
Harlston in Norfolk, July 30, 1754.
"Yesterday, in the afternoon, Slack and Petit met and fought. At the first set-to, Petit seized Slack by the throat and held him up against the rails and grained him so much as to make him extremely black. This continued for half a minute, before Slack could break Petit's hold."
The fight proceeded in this style, Petit seizing Slack "by the hams," and Slack flinging Petit off the stage, until Petit ran away in terror, and the fight was given to Slack.
Slack was in turn defeated by Stevens, the Nailer, who became champion in 1760. In the report of their fight the winning blow is thus described: "Stevens, with his right hand beat Slack about the head, while at the same time tripping him off his centre with his foot."
There is nothing particularly interesting in the records of British boxers till the close of the century. Daniel Mendoza, a Jew, and James Belcher, were the most noted names. Then came John Gully, champion from 1805 to 1808, a man who afterward became a member of the British Parliament; Thomas Cribb, a really remarkable man and a great boxer; Peter Corcoran, champion of Ireland and England, and Dan Donnelly, champion of Ireland and England.
The condition of the "science" at this time may be judged from the fact that there were few crystallized principles of attack or defence. Every man had his own way for doing everything. For instance, the guard of Mendoza was to hold his hands pretty close together, directly opposite his mouth, the back of the hand toward his opponent; while another famous boxer named Johnson came on guard by planting his legs square, "with his arms held in almost a semi-circular direction before his head."
DONNELLY AND COOPER ON THE CURRAGH OF KILDARE.
One of the most famous fights in the history of pugilism was that between the English and Irish champions, George Cooper and Dan Donnelly, which took place on the Curragh of Kildare, in the year 1815.
Dan Donnelly was one of the greatest boxers ever seen in the ring—a man who, in prowess and other characteristics, much resembled John L. Sullivan. He was born in Dublin in 1788. He was a carpenter by trade, and a man of extraordinary strength, good temper, generosity, and pluck. He was noted in Dublin for his skill in boxing; but he was not a professional pugilist.
In 1814, when Donnelly was twenty-six years old, one of the most famous boxers in England, named Thomas Hall, who had beaten George Cribb and other renowned fighters, went to Ireland to make a tour of the country, giving exhibitions. His advent was proclaimed by an arrogantly worded challenge to "all Ireland."
He was checked by finding that his challenge was at once publicly accepted in Dublin by Dan Donnelly, who was "backed" by as much money as was needed.
This battle attracted international attention. In Ireland the excitement was very great. When the men met on the Curragh of Kildare, on the 14th of September, 1814, there were over thirty thousand persons present. Both men were cheered when they entered the ring; and the fight was fair
until Hall, finding himself overmatched, fell several times without a blow, and ultimately raised a cry of "Foul," to cover his complete defeat. From the first round he had failed to make a single point on Donnelly, or to effectually stop one of Donnelly's.
Then George Cooper, the best man in England, was sent from London against the Irish champion.
Cooper had defeated the leading boxers of England, including Carter and Thomas Molineux, the negro heavy-weight, and great hopes were founded on his terrible hitting powers.
The national champions met on the Curragh of Kildare, on the same spot that had witnessed Donnelly's victory over Hall. The place was called then, and will probably be called forever "Donnelly's Hollow." It is at the Newbridge end of the plateau on which the military huts are erected.
A Boston traveller visited the Curragh a few months ago, and was taken by a proud native to the scene of the famous battle. "The footsteps of the champions," said this gentleman, the other day, "are still plainly visible. They are preserved in this way: every visitor, especially those who love the 'noble art,' puts his feet in the ancient marks, which are thus preserved and deepened in the soft green sod." The positions of the men, as they began the fight, are pointed out. "And over there," said the guide, "just outside the ring stood Miss Kelly, who wagered thousands of pounds on Dan Donnelly."
The battle took place on December 13, 1815, in the forenoon. In Ireland the excitement over the fight was intense, and to this day the event is a topic of common conversation. On the morning of the fight, the roads around the Curragh of Kildare were choked up with carriages and wagons of all kinds, from the four-in-hand teams of the nobility to the donkey-carts of peasants all the way from Cork or Connaught. There was a vast muiltitude to see the fight, and the profoundest order and good temper prevailed.
"Donnelly's Hollow" is probably one of the most perfect natural amphitheatres in the world. Here, on the sloping hill-sides, could stand or sit a hundred thousand men to behold a dramatic scene; and here, on that day, was assembled a greater crowd than had ever witnessed a boxing contest since the close of the Olympic games. An English correspondent of the press described Donnelly in these words:
"Donnelly at length stripped, amid thunders of applause. The Venus de Medicis never underwent a more minute scrutiny by the critical eye of a connoisseur than did the champion of Ireland. There is nothing loose or puffy about him. He is strong and bony to all intents and purposes. He is all muscle. His arms are long and slingy, his shoulders uncommonly fine, particularly when in action, and prominently indicating their punishing quality. His head is a fighting one, his neck athletic and bold; in height nearly six feet, in weight about thirteen stone, and his tout ensemble that of a boxer with first-rate qualifications. Thus much for his person; now for his quality. His wind appears to be undebauched; his style is resolute, firm, and not to be denied. Getting away he either disdains or does not acknowledge in his system of tactics. He makes tremendous use of his right hand."
After a storm-like cheer, the fight began amid deep silence. From the first blow, Donnelly had the advantage. He gained the usual points—first blood and first knock-down. Cooper made a brave and desperate fight, and in the fifth round he knocked Donnelly off his feet. In the seventh round Cooper was actually flung into the air by a cross-buttock, and in the eighth was dashed under the ropes by a tremendous left-hander.
For the next three rounds the result was similar, the eleventh and last round closing with a fearful right-hand blow on Cooper's mouth, which knocked him senseless.
He attracted almost as much attention as Englishmen have recently given to Sullivan. Tom Cribb undoubtedly had been the leading boxer in his time; but he had retired from the ring several years before Donnelly's visit to England.
England was in straits for a man able to meet Donnelly. It was looked upon even by the government as dangerous, politically, to allow the Irishman to again defeat a British champion.
At length a strong and able boxer, Oliver, was found to take up Donnelly's challenge. When the match was made, the chances of the fight filled the Three Kingdoms once more with matter for earnest discussion. It was said that one hundred thousand pounds (five hundred thousand dollars) were laid in bets on the battle. Every man in Ireland who had a pound to spare backed Dan Donnelly; and the "nobility and gentry" stood open-handed behind Oliver.
The national battle came off on July 21, 1819, within thirty miles of London. "Donnelly, on stripping," says the English report, "exhibited as fine a picture of the human frame as can well be imagined; indeed, if a sculptor had wished a living model to display the action of the muscles, a finer subject than Donnelly could not have been found. Oliver was equally fine. . . . He displayed flesh as firm as a rock. . . . Oliver had never been in so good condition before."
It was a brave and desperate contest. As usual, Donnelly knocked his man down in the first round; drew "first blood" in the second. In the seventh round, Oliver knocked Donnelly down, and this was almost his only successful point. Round after round ended in the same way—"Oliver down." In the thirteenth round, when Oliver lay helpless on the ropes, Donnelly threw up his hands, so as not to be tempted to strike him, and for this he received a great cheer. "Very handsome!" "Bravo, Donnelly!" In the first hour there were thirty rounds fought, for the last four of which Oliver was gaining strength; but in the opening of the second hour Donnelly had got his "second wind," and "his eye began to blaze," though, says the English report, "he was as cool as a cucumber." The next three rounds were Donnelly's, and then the Englishmen stopped betting and cheering. But they showed fair play throughout the fight; he is a poor kind of an Englishman who does not love fair play in a boxing match. Several times when "foul" was cried against Donnelly, and when, indeed, it might have been allowed by an umpire bent on ending the fight on a technicality, both umpire and crowd shouted: "It is all right. Go on Donnelly!" In the thirty-fourth round, Donnelly cross-countered Oliver with terrific force, striking him on the lower jaw; then while he was dazed Donnelly whirled him over the ring with a cross-buttock; and Oliver's seconds carried him off insensible. The fight was given to Donnelly, who was scarcely marked, and who immediately dressed himself and went off to see another fight.
It was said, and believed by many, that Dan Donnelly, shortly after this fight, was knighted by the rollicking Prince of Wales. At any rate, ever afterward he was called "Sir Dan." He died in 1820, from taking a drink of cold water after a hard sparring bout. He was only thirty-two years of age.
The last century saw pugilism raised in England and Ireland from barbarous rudeness to a high degree of skill. I have before me the "Manual of Self-Defence," as taught by Daniel Mendoza, who was champion of England in 1784.
Mendoza was a renowned boxer, for skill, and it is interesting to study the contents of his manual.
First, his guard consisted of holding both fists opposite the chin, close together, elbows downward, the legs slightly bent; left leg foremost; right foot toward the right, not directly behind; weight of the body on the foremost leg.
The blows taught by Mendoza were of three kinds—"round, straight, and chopping blows." The round blow he considered the unskilled effort; and, strange to say, he depended most on the silly "chopper," with the back of the hand, from above downward, a blow that no sane boxer would attempt to-day, except in fun. The straight blows were for the face and "wind."
In Mendoza's time, "gouging," that is, scooping out the eyes of an opponent, was constantly practised; and, in other respects, the prize-ring was a place of cruel and barbarous practices.
Only six races or nations have produced natural boxers,—the Greeks, the Jews, the Negroes, the English, the Irish, and the Americans.
Within a century, the Jewish race has sent out some famous boxers; among them Daniel Medoza, once champion of England; and "Barney" Aaron, one of the best men of his time,—1819–34. There have also been many leading Negro boxers, the first of whom was Molyneaux, a contemporary of Donnelly in the last century.
But the greatest boxers since the classic days of Greece are the modern men of England and Ireland, and their descendants in America. And the latest are the greatest.
No English champion, up to his time, ever equalled Tom Sayers, who was a mighty man in the ring from 1846 to 1863. There was a positive value in Sayers' life to his countrymen, no matter what objection may be made to prize-fighting.
Sayers proved that a small man can easily defeat a big and heavy one by skill, pluck, and endurance. He was five feet eight and a half inches in height, and a hundred and fifty pounds
in weight; but the "Tipton Slasher," who was six feet one inch in height, and two hundred and five pounds in weight, and a good boxer, was a mere child in his hands.
And when Sayers fought John C. Heenan for the championship, there was a lesson of courage and manly pride to every boy and man in England in the fact that the stout heart upbore the smaller man against the blows of a giant for two hours and twenty minutes, though, for nearly two hours of the time, the little man had to fight with his right arm broken.
No wonder Thackeray celebrated this fight in a poem, after the manner of "Horatius," entitled, "A Lay of Ancient London, supposed to be recounted to his great grand-children, April 7, a. d. 1920, by an Ancient Gladiator."
Thackeray carefully followed every feature of the fight, ending thus:—
"Two hours and more the fight had sped,
Near unto ten it drew;
But still opposed, one-armed to blind,
They stood, those dauntless two.
Ah, me! that I have lived to hear
Such men as ruffians scorned;
Such deeds of valor "brutal" called,
Canted, preached down, and mourned.
Ah! that these old eyes ne'er again
A gallant mill shall see!
No more behold the ropes and stakes,
With colors flying free!
And now my fists are feeble,
And my blood is thin and cold;
But 'tis better than Old Tom to me
To recall those days of old,
And may you, my great-grandchildren,
That gather round my knee,
Ne'er see worse men nor iller times
Than I and mine might be,
Though England then had prize-fighters,—
Even reprobates like me."
A LESSON EVEN IN A FIGHT
Then again, there was an object-lesson for England, outweighing even the brutality of a bare-handed fight, in the fortitude and reserved power of Tom King when he defeated Mace for the English championship in 1862.
Mace, a gypsy by race, was a middle-sized man, one hundred and fifty-four pounds weight; but he was the most famous boxer in the world, and he deserved his fame. No man ever used both hands more evenly, or more effectively, in straight body-blows,—the best blows for a small man to use on a big one, if he know how to escape a counter on the head. King was six feet two and one quarter inches in height, and trained down to one hundred and eighty pounds weight. But Mace had won his fame with victories over giants. He had defeated King himself in the early part of the same year, after a tremendous battle of forty-three rounds. He had beaten in five rounds, without receiving a blow, the gigantic Lancashire wrestler and boxer, Hurst, known as "the Staleybridge Infant." So when Mace
and King met in the winter of 1862, for a second fight for the championship, the betting was seven to four on Mace.
And the course of the fight justified the odds for a long time. With extreme caution both men fought; but, from the moment "time" was called, the champion Mace had the best of it. For ten rounds this was obviously so; for fifteen and no change; at the nineteenth King's friends knew he was beaten. He was fearfully punished about the
head; his face was so swelled he could not see. He had to grope for his man. But he came up doggedly to receive the smashing fist of the champion. No one would take the freely offered odds of thirty to five against King; ten to one was called and no takers. Then the crowd shouted to Mace to "finish him!" And Mace, smilingly and confidently, prepared. The blind man came staggering toward him with the same awful courage and determination which had upheld him so long; and Mace threw out his left preparatory to giving him the coup de grace with his right. But at that moment King stiffened like a man of cast-steel. His time had come. He got within distance, and his right hand shot out like a flash of lightning, cross-countering Mace with appalling directness and force.
It was the blow he had waited for and sparred for under all the terrible punishment. It was worth all the blows of the fight massed into one. Mace fell as if he had been struck with a mallet, bleeding from mouth, eyes, and nose. He lay like a log for some seconds. "The champion is beaten!" was the astonished cry. But no, he struggled up again, reeled toward King, and was easily struck again to the earth. Once more the shattered champion staggered toward the blind conqueror, who, in pity, would not strike him, but gently pushed him into his corner, and the fight was won.
Was there no value in this lesson for Englishmen?
They learned here that beating and bruising and even blinding a man, do not defeat him, if his heart be true and strong.
Under every contest, whether of men or game animals, this is the fascinating secret, this is the line to look for,—this unbroken golden thread of pluck, of manly fortitude, of secret, heart-whispering confidence.
We must regret and deplore the bruises and the scars and the blood; but they are the price of a precious and beautiful thing,—the sight of manly qualities under the severest strain.
Where else in one compressed hour can be witnessed the supreme test and tension of such precious living qualities as courage, temper, endurance, bodily strength, clear-mindedness in excited action, and, above all, that heroic spirit that puts aside the cloak of defeat though it fall anew a hundred and a thousand times, and in the end reaches out and grasps the silvered mantle of success?
This is not meant to encourage prize-fighting. Detestable and abhorrent is a brutal bare-handed fight, for the brutality is as unnecessary as it is repulsive; but you cannot have a prevalent manly exercise interesting to the majority of healthy men, without having professional boxers; and it may be said that the professional boxer who fights an honest fight, with high skill and courage, and without the savagery of rare hands or cestus, is not, thereby, a moral monster and an outrageous example.
Shaw, the British Life-Guardsman, who slew ten French cuirassiers at Waterloo, was a professional boxer; and, undoubtedly, the training of stout heart, puissant arm, and confident eye, that enabled him to do and die like a hero and a patriot, was due more to his pugilistic than his military profession. How many British hearts have remembered Shaw since then in a hand-to-hand fight, and have been nerved to renewed energy by the thought?
"Among the confusion presented by the fiercest and closest cavalry fight which had ever been seen," says Sir Walter Scott, writing of Waterloo, "many individuals distinguished themselves by feats of personal strength and valor. Among these should not be forgotten Shaw, a corporal of the Life Guards, well known as a pugilistic champion, and equally formidable as a swordsman, He is supposed to have slain, or disabled, ten Frenchmen with his own hand before he was killed by a musket or pistol shot."
Poor Shaw! When he died at Waterloo, he had a challenge standing in England to fight any man in the world with his hands.
What was the lesson taught by that heroic Russian sailor, who, commanding only a poor little merchant steamer, captured a colossal Turkish iron-clad after a desperate fight on the Black Sea, in 1877?
This was one of the most glorious feats of war ever recorded; and it illustrated the same unconquerable and hopeful spirit that is often seen even in prize-fights. The story, in this relation, is worth telling. The Turkish iron-clad was of enormous power in guns, armor, and engines; she moved through the sea at the terrible speed of thirty miles an hour. The Russian merchantman, the Vesta, was a light iron steamer, carrying three six-inch mortars and one nine-round rifle cannon, Her utmost speed was about twelve miles an hour. Yet these two ships, so unequal in everything else, were not only equalized, but the weak became the strong when the hearts of the crew were brought to the test of fire. Never was there a nobler showing of what fearful odds courageous men can face and overcome.
At eight o'clock in the morning of a beautiful day in June, the Russian captain saw the immense ram sweeping down on him. He put his little steamer to her full speed; but the ram closed on him with frightful rapidity. The officers of the small steamer were Russian artillerymen, for the ship had lately been pressed into the regular service. The guns were in charge of Lieut.-Col. Tchernoff, who pointed them himself. A rattling fire was kept up against the iron-clad; but the Turk came on, as if determined to drive his spur into the side of the steamer. On seeing this, the captain of the Vesta veered off, upon which the Turk poured a hideous volley of shrapnel over his decks. One bomb set the steamer on fire near the powder magazine; this was at once extinguished. Another deluged the deck with blood, lacerating the neck and shoulder of one of the two officers at the guns, and mortally wounding the heroic Tchernoff, who had time only to turn to the crew with these words: "Farewell! fire from the right-hand stern gun; it is pointed!" and fell dead. There were torpedoes on board the steamer, and, at this time, Lieut. Michael Perelchine asked permission of the captain for himself and another lieutenant to launch the sloop, and attack the enemy with the mines. The captain was about to grant the request, when he saw that the sea was too boisterous for the success of so perilous an adventure. The brave lieutenant turned from him disappointed, and at that moment was struck by a bomb, which tore away his leg to the hip. "In this condition," writes Capt. Baronoff, " he still endeavored to speak to me about the use to be made of the steam sloops." Still the fight went on. The lieutenant who was pointing the guns of the steamer received seventeen wounds in a few minutes. Every man and boy in the ship stared grim death in the face, and never dreamt of giving in. But it must soon
(Instantaneous Photograph.) end: the heavy projectiles of the iron-clad were literally knocking the steamer to pieces; but just at this moment the artillery officer got a good sight, burst in the porthole of the enemy's largest gun, and lodged a bomb in her chimney. Another bomb must have set fire to the iron-clad, for a dense smoke arose. "A terrible confusion ensued on his deck; he drew out of the fight," turned tail, and steamed off at a tremendous rate. The Russian captain, with his little steamer shattered and torn, his officers dead or wounded, and his deck streaming with the blood of his brave crew, tried to keep up chase; but his rudder had been injured in the fight and soon became useless.
The lesson of this battle is that there is hardly any emergency in which a commander should yield without a fight. If this brave captain had stopped to calculate chances, he would have struck his flag without firing a gun. His calculations would have been a mistake, as such calculations almost always are. He might count the guns of his enemy, and estimate the speed of the ram, and the number of the crew, and still leave out the principal consideration,—the pluck of the hearts. Guns will not fire straight without steady aim, and strong bulwarks may be a shield for cowardly hearts.
Readiness to fight doubles the strength. All contests are worth watching for the sight of these golden lines.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GREAT BOXERS.
There never was, in the whole history of the art, a more remarkable or interesting boxer than Sullivan. Many people believe that his masterful quality lies in his vast physical strength. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are thousands of men in America physically much stronger,—men who could lift a heavier weight, pull a heavier load, and keep up the strain longer than he.
The superiority of Sullivan lies in his extraordinary nervous force, and his altogether incomparable skill as a boxer. His recent failure to defeat a man with bare hands, in three hours, whom he had formerly overcome with ease in fifteen minutes with large gloves, means only that the conditions were unfair. Sullivan does not pretend to be a runner; and this fight was more a race than a bout.
The qualities of both Sullivan and Mitchell are thoroughly known. There is really no doubt in people's minds about their relative abilities. Mitchell is admittedly a most skilful boxer. But were the element of gambling ruled out, there never would have been a question raised as to the enormous superiority of Sullivan.
There are many better boxers than Mitchell in America, if not in England; but there is not one who dare challenge Sullivan. They know that this running fight in France has proved nothing against him.
In what does his extraordinary skill consist? In hitting as straight and almost as rapidly as light; in the variety and readiness of his blows; in standing firmly on his feet and driving his whole weight and nervous force at the end of his fist,—a very rare and a very high quality in a boxer; in movements as quick and purposeful as the leap of a lion. He can "duck" lower than any featherweight boxer in America; he can strike more heavy blows in ten seconds than any other man in a minute, and he watches his opponent with a self-possession and calculation that do not flurry with excitement, but only flame into a ravening intensity to beat him down, to spring on him from a new direction, and strike him a new blow every tenth of a second, to rush, hammer, contemn, overmaster, overwhelm, and appall him.
Look at "The Boxer" as he leaps on the stage and stands gazing at his opponent, waiting for the referee to call "time." That is the quivering moment seized by the great sculptor whose statue, recently completed in Boston, is pictured in the frontispiece of this book.
Look at the statue; that is Sullivan, life, body, and spirit. See the tremendous chest, filled with capacious lungs and a mighty heart, capable of pumping blood everywhere at once. See the marvellous trunk and the herculean arms, not twisted and hardened into foolish lumps of dry muscle, but soft and lissome as the leg of a tiger. See the ponderous fist and the massive wrist; and the legs and feet—ah! there you see the limbs of a perfect boxer—light as a dancer, firm as a tower. And then, look up to the buttressed, Samson neck, springing beautifully from the great shoulders; look at the head—large, round as a Greek's, broad-browed, wide-chinned, with a deep dimple, showing the good-nature, and a mouth and lips that ought be cut in granite, so full are they of doomful power and purpose.
And what an attitude! The advanced left foot hardly pressing the ground, the bones and muscles of the right leg straight and strong as a pillar. A position of repose, but the repose of the coiled steel spring. See the will and watchfulness of the pushed lower lip and level eye, and the slight forward inclination of the head. Above all, watch the arms, that appear to hang loosely at first sight. There is not a loose cord in them; they don't hang, they are carefully held a little out from the sides; and mark the slight, but vastly significant, rounding of the wrist—outward, not inward — the legible and pregnant mark of "The Boxer."
This expressive holding the clenched hand, with the wrist rounded outward, has not been produced in art before, certainly not by any modern artist. But it is the very sign and symbolization of the modern boxer. It is, in a special way, the imprint of Sullivan. It tells the genius of the sculptor and the instinct of the athlete. In that premonitory wrist and fist we see the very natal spring of the round blow. He has but to throw up his elbow slightly, and hand, arm, shoulder, and right leg are ready, and the champion's round blow flies like a thunderbolt.
There is no need to say that this is a wonderful statue—a work of art that will become famous everywhere, that will attract as much attention next year in the Paris Salon as this year when exhibited in Boston. It tells its own greatness to every beholder. Subject and artist came at the right moment; and America is enriched with a work of art that would have won a crown in Periclesian Athens.
Sullivan enters on a fight unlike all other men. From the first movement his action is ultimate. Other boxers begin by sparring; he begins by fighting—and he never ceases to fight. He is as distinct from other boxers as a bull dog is from a spaniel. He is a fighting man. Every other American boxer, and from report, every English boxer, is of the sparring kind. Kilrain is a superb pugilist—strong, skilful, good-tempered, and a hard hitter. He is the safest boxer living, and next to Sullivan easily the best pugilist in the world. But Kilrain is not a natural fighter—he is too gentle. He waits to see what his opponent is going to do. It takes five or six rounds to get his heart at full beat and his nervous reservoir opened.
But from the first instant of the fight, Sullivan is as fierce, relentless, tireless as a cataract. The fight is wholly to go in his way—not at all in the other man's. His opponent wants to spar; he leaps on him with a straight blow. He wants to breathe; he dashes him into the corner with a drive in the stomach. He does not waste ten seconds of the three minutes of each round.
And look at the odds he offers—and offers to all the world! They are not ten to one, nor twenty to one, but nearer to one hundred to one. Observe, he will not only defeat all-comers, but he will defeat them in four rounds—in twelve minutes! And this is not all—he will defeat them with his hands muffled in large gloves.
Consider the odds here: he throws away for himself all the chances of a long fight, and he offers to his opponents all the chances of enduring even his opposition for a short one. Mace defeated King only after forty-three rounds, and Brettle after forty rounds. Heenan fought Sayers thirty-seven rounds, to what the Englishmen called a draw. Sayers beat Paddock in twenty-one rounds. He fought Aaron Jones sixty-two rounds to a draw, and only defeated him after eighty-five rounds more; while the fight of Sayers with Poulson consumed three hours and eight minutes, in which one hundred and nine rounds were fought.
If Sayers could not knock out Poulson in one hundred and eight rounds, with bare hands, what effect would he have had on him in four rounds with large soft-gloves?
As Sayers, with bare hands, was to Poulson (an inferior man) in one hundred and nine rounds, so is Sullivan, with large gloves, to the best man in the world in four rounds. That is the sum in proportion.
To show the progress in boxing between Broughton's day and ours, the reader is referred to the Appendix for the best code of rules to govern glove contests that has ever been drawn up. They are the product of a Boston man, Mr. David Blanchard.
BOXING COMPARED WITH OTHER EXERCISES.
Prize-Fighting is not the aim of boxing. This noble exercise ought not to be judged by the dishonesty or the low lives of too many of its professional followers. Let it stand alone, an athletic practice, on the same footing as boating or foot-ball.
Putting prize-fighting altogether aside as one of the unavoidable evils attending on this manly exercise, the inestimable value of boxing as a training, discipline, and development of boys and young men remains.
All other athletic exercises, with one exception, are limited or partial in their physical development. That exception is swimming. Swimming takes the whole muscular system into play, uniformly and powerfully. Lungs, heart, trunk, and limbs, all but the eyes, have to do their full share of the work.
Boxing leaves out nothing; it exercises the whole man at once and equally—the trunk, the limbs, the eyes—and the mind.
Swimming is, more than any other physical exercise, a reversal to the primitive. The swimmer has no thoughts—only perceptions. He sees, in a vague way, the trees on the shore, the clouds, the ripple on the wave within thirty
"DUCKING" A LEAD WITH THE LEFT.
(Instantaneous Photograph.) inches of his lips, and he feels the embracing water in a manner that diffuses thought or sensitiveness all over his body, taking it away from the brain. No swimmer thinks—he merely takes care. He is in a condition of animalism. The intellectuality of the swimmer is relaxed, or partly suspended.
But the boxer, in action, has not a loose muscle or a sleepy brain cell. His mind is quicker and more watchful than a chess-player's. He has to gather his impulses and hurl them, straight and purposeful, with every moment and motion. It is not the big, evenly-disposed opposition of nature he has to overcome, like the swimmer or the runner, but the keen and precise cunning of an excited brain, that is watching him with eyes as bright as a hawk's.
There is no emulation or controversy so hot, so vital, so deliciously interesting, as the boxer's. The ecstacy of the single-stick is rude and brief; the wrestler's tug is comparatively slow and laborious; even the lunge of the foil is cold, slight, and vague, beside the life-touching kiss of the hot glove on neck, arm, or shoulder.
The nearer you come to nature, when you are not fighting nature, the deeper the enjoyment, whether of living, loving, exercising, playing, or fighting.
The elements of character which boxing, better than all other exercises, develops, are fairness of personal judgment and an acceptance of give-and-take.
The boxer must take as well as give. It is only the bully and the coward who want to give all the time, and escape taking; and if boxing were taught in every American school, as it ought to be, there would be fewer bullies and cowards sent out unpunished and uncorrected.
A few years ago, in New England, a young man who was fond of rowing or riding, or any other vigorous sport, was considered to be on the high road to ruin. It was not respectable even to whistle; and the cheerful whistler is a lost artist in New England.
This is changed completely. In the greatest school in America, Harvard, there is probably the most perfect gymnasium in the world; and the annual games at all the universities and higher schools of America, where the mothers and sisters of the best-bred boys in the country are present in thousands, are not unworthy modern representations of the national games of Greece.
Gymnasiums are growing common in New England in connection with schools—their proper relation. It is beginning to be realized that, under our confined and artificial city life, the bodies of boys and girls need as much and as careful training and cultivation as their minds. "A sound mind in a sound body" promises to become an American, as it was a Roman, proverb. To cultivate the mind at the expense of the body is to put a premium on immorality, rascality, and craziness.
There never was a race so fond of athletics as the American is going to be—as it is already—at least, not since the Olympiads. The best of the English field-sports are confined to the aristocracy. There never was a race with so many and so various athletes as the American. Our games are not "sacred" like the Greeks, nor are they national, or periodical, or belonging to a class—except our fox-hunting in scarlet and top-boots. We do not concentrate our athletic efforts into four days every four or five years like the Greeks. Our Olympiads begin every May and last till November, and take in every boy and man who has warm blood in his veins.
The Greeks had runners, wrestlers, boxers, charioteers, quoit-throwers, bull-tamers; the Romans had boxers, wrestlers, and swordsmen. We have more than all these. Base-ball alone in America makes more athletes yearly than the whole curriculum of Elis. The youths who "break the records" for running, leaping, rowing, and foot-ball in American colleges would take all the laurel and parsley crowns at Isthmia and Corinth. For every Greek chariot driver we have a thousand American yachtsmen. Greece and Rome will be nowhere in athletics in comparison with New England alone, twenty-five years hence, if the wave of popular interest in field and water and gymnasium sports, which is now rapidly rising, is allowed to proceed unchecked.
It is no longer regarded as deplorable for a youth to aspire to be an athlete. The whole country hangs in suspense over a college race or foot-ball game. Above all, we are in a fair way to rescue boxing from the boxers, and to restore to its proper place in the training of youth the exercise that leads all others in fitting them to be fair-minded, confident, courageous, peaceful and patriotic citizens.
The illustrations used in this article are made from instantaneous photographs of two famous boxers. This is the first time the instantaneous photograph has been used to record the movements of boxers in excited action; and the result, it will be admitted, is interesting and satisfactory.
Mr. John Donoghue, the sculptor of the great statue of "The Boxer," for which Sullivan stood as his model all through the past Summer, has kindly allowed me to use, for the first time, the beautiful plate in the frontispiece.
Among the illustrations are four or five from excellent drawings, made for "Outing," from two of the best boxers in America, which have been copied by the kind permission of the editor of "Outing." These plates are "A Good Position of Guard," "Set-To" "A Cross-Counter," "An Old-Fashioned Upper-Cut," and "A Cross-Buttock," the latter a wonderfully good picture.
The process of taking the instantaneous photographs of the boxers for this article was very interesting. The lessons the pictures give, even to professional boxers, will not be thrown away. For instance, take the illustration, "Cross-Countered," (page 61), where the man leading has raised his right foot in the air: it is obvious that such a blow could have little strength, and that the cross-blow of his opponent, whose right toe is firmly grounded, must stagger him, at least. The careful boxer whose leg is raised would never believe that this was his position; but the camera cannot lie.
And what a perfect illustration is the first plate,—"Ducking the Round Blow,"" (page 10), which never could be secured except by the instantaneous process. Except in the sudden bend of an excited moment, a man could not assume such a singular, and yet graceful and powerful position. A less cool or skilful boxer than this (he is the light-weight champion of England) would lose his power of recovery in making such an escape as this; but observe, hands, feet, and body are so held that, as soon as the sweeping fist has passed overhead, he can straighten himself where he stands, and get in a powerful right-hander.
Another illustration of extraordinary vigor is "The Upper-Cut, as Sullivan Strikes It" (page 62). Here the camera has captured an upper-cut at its very birth. There is no short-armed fibbing about this blow. It springs, not from the elbow, but from the feet; and, if it reaches its object in earnest, it is frequently the end of a fight.
RULES OF THE RING.
There have been, in England, three notable codes, or "Rules of the Ring" for the ordering of pugilistic contests. The first were known as "Broughton's Rules" (they are given in full at page 49). They governed all prize-fights in England for nearly a century, till the adoption of the code known commonly as "The London Prize-Ring Rules."
The later and better English rules are those known as "The Marquis of Queensberry Rules," which provide for regular rounds of three minutes instead of the former system of ending a round when one of the contestants came to the ground. The "London Ring Rules" are still followed in England; but never, it may be depended on, when the contest is intended to be fair and above-board. They seem to have been framed to enable the worst man to win, by permitting all kinds of cowardly tricks and evasions. Whenever his manlier opponent is in danger of getting an advantage, the schemer can clinch, and immediately slip to the ground.
By the "Queensberry Rules," each round lasts three full minutes, with a minute between for rest. If a man is knocked down during the round, he is allowed ten seconds to get up, unassisted, and return to the contest. Should be be unable to rise when "time" is called at the end of the ten seconds, he has lost the fight.
But the best "rules of the ring" ever devised are those lately drawn up by Mr. David R. Blanchard, of Boston, called "The American Fair-Play Rules." So far as can be seen, they cover every point, and provide for a fair and manly pugilistic contest, without brutality. Every future American boxing contest ought to be controlled by these "American Rules."
All other rules have failed to stop the vile clinching which often makes a boxing contest a mere wrestling match, during which the referee has nothing to do but shout, "Break!" But here it is provided that the boxers themselves shall stop the clinching, not the referee. Rule 5 says: "If a contestant should resort to clinching, his opponent may continue hitting as long as he does not clinch himself."
This settles the clincher, who stops his own fighting, but allows his opponent to go on in-fighting. If referees will observe this rule, and decline to cry "break" when the clinch is not mutual, there will soon be an end of clinchers and clinching.
Mr. Blanchard deserves much credit for the careful attention he has bestowed on this excellent code of rules, which at once bars out cruelty, brutality, and cowardice (his ring is only twenty feet square; large enough for a fight, but not for a race-course), and ensures as fair a glove contest as possible.
LONDON PRIZE-RING RULES, AS REVISED BY THE BRITISH PUGILISTIC ASSOCIATION.
It having been found that many of the Rules of the Ring are insufficient to provide for the various contingencies which continually arise in prize battles, an entire revision has been determined on, and a committee of gentlemen, members of the Pugilistic Association, undertook the task. When the revision was complete, the laws were submitted to a general meeting of the members of the Prize Ring (being members of the Association), and unanimously agreed to:—
1. That the ring shall be made on turf, and shall be four-and-twenty feet square, formed of eight stakes and ropes, the latter extending in double lines, the uppermost line being four feet from the ground, and the lower two feet from the ground. That in the centre of the ring a mark be formed, to be termed "the scratch"; and that at two opposite corners, as may be selected, spaces be enclosed by other marks sufficiently large for the reception of the seconds and bottle-holders, to be entitled "the corners."
2. That each man shall be attended to the ring by a second and a bottle-holder, the former provided with a sponge, and the latter with a bottle of water. That the combatants, on shaking hands, shall retire until the seconds of each have tossed for choice of position, which adjusted, the winner shall choose his corner according to the state of the wind or sun, and conduct his man thereto; the loser taking the opposite corner.
3. That each man shall be provided with a handkerchief of a color suitable to his own fancy, and that the seconds proceed to entwine these handkerchiefs at the upper end of one of the centre stakes. That these handkerchiefs shall be called the "colors"; and that the winner of the battle at its conclusion shall be entitled to their possession as the trophy of victory.
4. That two umpires shall be chosen by the seconds or backers to watch the progress of the battle, and take exception to any breach of the rules hereafter stated. That a referee shall be chosen by the umpires, unless otherwise agreed on, to whom all disputes shall be referred; and that the decision of this referee, whatever it may be, shall be final and strictly binding on all parties, whether as to the matter in dispute or the issue of the battle. That the umpires shall be provided with a watch for the purpose of calling time; and that they mutually agree upon whom this duty shall devolve, the call of that umpire only to be attended to, and no other person whatever to interfere in calling time. That the referee shall withhold all opinion till appealed to by the umpires, and that the umpires strictly abide by his decision without dispute.
5. That on the men being stripped, it shall be the duty of the seconds to examine their drawers, and if any objection arise as to insertion of improper substances therein, they shall appeal to their umpires, who, with the concurrence of the referee, shall direct what alterations shall be made.
6. That in future no spikes be used in fighting boots except those authorized by the Pugilistic Association, which shall not exceed three-eighths of an inch from the sole of the boot, and shall not be less than one-eighth of an inch broad at the point; and it shall be in the power of the referee to alter, or file in any way he pleases, spikes which shall not accord with the above dimensions, even to filing them away altogether.
7. That both men being ready, each man shall be conducted to that side of the scratch next his corner previously chosen; and the seconds on the one side, and the men on the other, having shaken hands, the former shall immediately return to their corners, and there remain within the prescribed marks till the round be finished, on no pretence whatever approaching their principals during the round, under a penalty of five shillings for each offence, at the option of the referee. The penalty, which will be strictly enforced, to go to the funds of the Association. The principal to be responsible for every fine inflicted on his second.
8. That at the conclusion of the round, when one or both of the men shall be down, the seconds and bottle-holders shall step forward, and carry or conduct their principal to his corner, there affording him the necessary assistance, and that no person whatever be permitted to interfere in this duty.
9. That on the expiration of thirty seconds, the umpire appointed shall cry "Time," upon which each man shall rise from the knee of his bottle-holder, and walk to his own side of the scratch unaided; the seconds and bottle-holders remaining at their corner; and that either man failing so to be at the scratch within eight seconds, shall be deemed to have lost the battle. This rule to be strictly adhered to.
10. That on no consideration whatever shall any person be permitted to enter the ring during the battle, nor till it shall have been concluded; and that in the event of such unfair practice, or the ropes or stakes being disturbed or removed, it shall be in the power of the referee to award the victory to that man who, in his honest opinion, shall have the best of the contest.
11. That the seconds and bottle-holders shall not interfere, advise, or direct the adversary of their principal, and shall refrain from all offensive and irritating expressions, in all respects conducting themselves with order and decorum, and confine themselves to the diligent and careful discharge of their duties to their principals.
12. That in picking up their men, should the seconds or bottle-holders wilfully injure the antagonist of their principal, the latter shall be deemed to have forfeited the battle on the decision of the referee.
13. That it shall be a fair "stand-up fight," and if either man shall wilfully throw himself down without receiving a blow, whether blows shall have previously been exchanged or not, he shall be deemed to have lost the battle; but that this rule shall not apply to a man who in a close slips down from the grasp of his opponent to avoid punishment, or from obvious accident or weakness.
14. That butting with the head shall be deemed foul, and the party resorting to this practice shall be deemed to have lost the battle.
15. That a blow struck when a man is thrown or down, shall be deemed foul. That a man with one knee and one hand on the ground, or with both knees on the ground, shall be deemed down; and a blow given in either of those positions shall be considered foul, providing always that, when in such position, the man so down shall not himself strike or attempt to strike.
16. That a blow struck below the waistband shall be deemed foul, and that in a close seizing an antagonist below the waist, by the thigh, or otherwise, shall be deemed foul.
17. That all attempts to inflict injury by gouging, or tearing the flesh with the fingers or nails, and biting, shall be deemed foul.
18. That kicking or deliberately falling on an antagonist with the knees or otherwise when down, shall be deemed foul. 19. That all bets shall be paid as the battle-money, after a fight, is awarded.
20. That no person, under any pretence whatever, shall be permitted to approach nearer the ring than ten feet, with the exception of the umpires and referee, and the persons appointed to take charge of the water or other refreshment for the combatants, who shall take their seats close to the corners selected by the seconds.
21. That due notice shall be given by the stakeholder of the day and place where the battle-money is to be given up, and that he be exonerated from all responsibility upon obeying the direction of the referee; that all parties be strictly bound by these rules; and that in future all articles of agreement for a contest be entered into with a strict and willing adherence to the letter and spirit of these rules.
22. That in the event of magisterial or other interference, or in case of darkness coming on, the referee shall have the power to name the time and place for the next meeting, if possible on the same day, or as soon after as may be.
23. That, should the fight not be decided on the day, all bets shall be drawn, unless the fight shall be resumed the same week, between Sunday and Sunday; in which case the bets shall stand and be decided by the event. The battle-money shall remain in the hands of the stakeholder until fairly won or lost by a fight, unless a draw be mutually agreed upon.
24. That any pugilist voluntarily quitting the ring previous to the deliberate judgment of the referee being obtained, shall be deemed to have lost the fight.
25. That on an objection being made by the seconds or umpire, the men shall retire to their corners, and there remain until the decision of the appointed authorities shall be obtained; that if pronounced "foul," the battle shall be at an end; but if "fair," "time" shall be called by the party appointed, and the man absent from the scratch in eight seconds after shall be deemed to have lost the fight. The decision in all cases to be given promptly and irrevocably, for which purpose the umpires and the referee should be invariably close together.
26. That if in a rally at the ropes a man steps outside the ring to avoid his antagonist, or to escape punishment, he shall forfeit the battle.
27. That the use of hard substances, such as stone, or stick, or of resin, in the hand during the battle shall be deemed foul, and that on the requisition of the seconds of either man, the accused shall open his hands for the examination of the referee.
28. That hugging on the ropes shall be deemed foul. That a man held by the neck against the stakes, or upon or against the ropes, shall be considered down, and all interference with him in that position shall be foul. That if a man in any way makes use of the ropes or stakes to aid him in squeezing his adversary he shall be deemed the loser of the battle; and that if a man in a close reaches the ground with his knees, his adversary shall immediately loose him or lose the battle.
29. That all stage fights be as nearly as possible in conformity with the foregoing rules.
MARQUIS OF QUEENSBERRY RULES GOVERNING CONTESTS FOR ENDURANCE.
1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match, in a twenty-four foot ring, or as near that size as practicable.
2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.
3. The rounds to be of three minutes duration, and one minute time between rounds.
4. If either man fall, through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted; ten seconds to be allowed him to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner, and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed and continued until the three minutes have expired. If one man fails to come to the scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favor of the other man.
5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.
6. No seconds or any other person to be allowed in the ring during the rounds.
7. Should the contest be stopped by any unavoidable interference, the referee to name time and place, as soon as possible, for finishing the contest; so that the match must be won and lost, unless the backers of both men agree to draw the stakes.
8. The gloves to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality, and new.
9. Should a glove burst, or come off, it must be replaced to the referee's satisfaction.
10. A man on one knee is considered down, and if struck is entitled to the stakes.
11. No shoes or boots with sprigs allowed.
12. The contest in all other respects to be governed by the the revised rules of the London Prize-ring.
AMERICAN FAIR-PLAY RULES TO GOVERN GLOVE CONTESTS.
1. An honest and competent referee must be chosen, who should be familiar with the rules. His orders must be promptly obeyed, and his decisions in all cases shall be final.
2. A responsible time-keeper must be appointed, who shall take his position near the ropes, and should be provided with a proper time watch. The referee, also, may have the privilege of keeping time, for his own satisfaction, particularly in reference to the twelve seconds after a fall.
3. All contests should take place in a roped square enclosure, twenty foot square, or as near that as possible, with eight posts, which should be padded on the inside. Three ropes, of one inch diameter, should be used, the top one to be four feet from the floor, or ground, and the others at equal distance below it, or sixteen inches apart. There should be a circle, three feet in diameter, drawn in the middle of the enclosure, to be known as the centre, where contestants shall meet for the beginning of each round.
4. Each principal may have two attendants, only one of whom shall be allowed within the enclosure. While the contest is in progress the attendants must take positions outside the ring, and neither advise nor speak to either of the principals, except while they are resting. A violation of this rule may be punished by the referee excluding the offender from serving as an attendant. Either attendant may quietly call the attention of the referee to any violation of the rules. While resting, principals may use a light chair in their corners; but it must be placed outside by the attendants while the contest is in progress.
5. No wrestling, clinching, hugging, butting, or anything done to injure an opponent, except by fair and manly boxing, shall be allowed. If a contestant should resort to clinching, his opponent may continue hitting, as long as he does not clinch, himself. A contestant shall not go to the floor to avoid his opponent, or to obtain rest, nor shall he strike his opponent when down, or on one or both knee, nor be allowed to strike below the belt or waist. No ill feeling should exist between contestants, and the custom of shaking hands, before and after the contests, should never be omitted.
6. A round shall be of three (3) minutes' duration, with one minute, between rounds, for rest; and the time occupied in verbal contention or discussion shall be noted by the time-keeper, and it shall not be included as part of a round. In all matches, the number of rounds and weight of gloves should be mutually agreed upon. It is suggested that the gloves should not weigh less than three ounces each.
7. If a glove shall burst or come off, it must be replaced immediately, to the satisfaction of the referee. No tampering with the gloves, by forcing the hair from the knuckles, or otherwise, shall be allowed. The costume should be tights, with stockings and light shoes, and shirt, if desired.
8. If either man is sent to the floor, or accidentally falls, he shall be allowed twelve seconds to rise and walk unassisted to the centre. In the meantime his opponent shall retire to his corner, and remain until the fallen man shall first reach the centre, when time shall be called and the round completed. If, however, the man fails to come to the centre within twelve seconds, the referee shall decide that he has lost the contest.
9. If a man is forced on to the ropes in such a manner as to be in a position where he is unable to defend himself, it shall be the duty of the referee to order both men to the centre.
10. If either principal becomes so exhausted that it is apparently Imprudent to continue, it shall be the duty of the referee to stop the contest, and give his decision in favor of the more deserving man.
11. Spectators should not be allowed within three (3) feet of the enclosure.
12. If at any time during the contest it should become evident that the parties interested, or by-standers, are doing anything to injure or intimidate either principal, or to wilfully interfere in any way to prevent him from fairly winning, the referee shall have the power to declare the principal so interfered with, the winner. Or, if at any time the ring is broken into to prevent the principals from finishing the contest, it shall then also be the duty of the referee to award the contest to the man who, at that time, has, in his opinion, the advantage.
13. If, on the day named for the meeting, anything unavoidable should occur to prevent the contest from taking place, or from being finished, the referee shall name the time and place for the next meeting, which must be within three days from the day of postponement, proper notice of which shall be given to both parties. Either man failing to appear at the time and place appointed by the referee, shall be deemed to have lost the contest.
14. If there is anything said or done to intimidate the referee, while serving, or if the referee has any other good and sufficient reasons why his decision should not be immediately rendered, he shall have the right to reserve his decision, which, however, must be rendered within twenty-four hours after the contest.
15. If the contest should occur in a field, blunt hobbles, not over one-eighth of an inch in thickness or length, shall be used in place of spikes on the soles of the shoes, and must be placed so as to be harmless to an opponent.
16. In order that exhibitions may be conducted in a quiet and orderly manner, the referee should always request spectators to refrain from loud expressions or demonstrations, and any one guilty of such conduct, while a contest is in progress should be severely condemned.
Suggestion to Referee.—While, in the foregoing rules, broad and unrestricted powers are reposed in the referee, in order that his authority may be unquestioned in preventing intentional violations of the rules and of fair dealing, it is expected that the referees will use the greatest caution and wisest discretion in the exercise of their power, and in distinguishing accidental mistakes, on the part of the contestants or their supporters, from wilful violations of the spirit of these articles.
- The men fought near Chantilly, France, on March 10, 1888, for £500 and the championship of the world. The rules were those of the London Prize Ring. The light lasted three hours and eleven minutes, In which time 30 regular rounds, and four or five irregular, were fought. After five or six rounds, during which he was knocked down literally every time he stood up, Mitchell adopted a system of running away and falling to escape blows. A cold rain was falling, and Sullivan became chilled, and in the thirty-fifth round he had a fit of ague. He was overtrained; he had hurt his right hand; he was too heavy to plough through the mud after his running adversary, whom he could not catch; so he agreed to end the contest by a draw.
Longest bare-knuckled battle on record—six hours, fifteen minutes, James Kelly and Jonathan Smith, near Melbourne, Australia, November, 1855.
Longest bare-knuckle battle in England—six hours, three minutes, Mike Madden and Bill Hayes, Edenbridge. July 17, 1849.
Longest bare-knuckle battle in America—four hours, twenty minutes, J. Fitzpatrick and James O'Neil, Berwick, Maine, Dec. 4, 1860.
Longest glove fight—five hours, three minutes, forty-five seconds; seventy-six rounds, Wm. Sheriff and J. Welch, Philadelphia, Penn., April 10, 1884.
Largest stake fought for in America—$10,000, Tom Hyer and Yankee Sullivan, Rock Point, Md., Feb. 7, 1849.
Largest stake fought for in England—£2,000, Tom King and John C. Heenan, Wadhurst, England, Dec. 10, 1863.
First ring fight in America—Jacob Hyer and Thomas Beasley, in 1816.