BAREKNUCKLE BOXING AT THE PIT
Although this picturE (above) is depicting rat catching " The Pit" as it was referred to was often used for bareknuckle fighting. The owner of this rather dubious establishment was the co founder of the Dead Rabbits gang in new york known as Kit Burns although his real name was Christopher Keyburn (February 23, 1831 – December 19, 1870). Situated at no 273 Water Street, near the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge it was named the Sportsmans hall. The lower room in the building is shown in the picture and was made as an amphitheatre where spectators would sit on wooden benches and witness and wager on many Bareknuckle bouts although this type of fighting often resulted in horific injuries as no rules were adhered too.
To allow fights to continue as long as possible " Blood Sucking" used to take place, this was to haunch the flow of blood and the bouncer of the club named "Snatchem" George Leese had this job to perform where he would enter the pit and suck on the fighters wounds to enable them to continue fighting. Its ironic that " The pit" was hired out for evangelical meetings.One such meeting held at Sportsman's Hall in September 1868 was described by the New York World,
"The Water Street prayer meetings are still continued. Yesterday at noon a large crowd assembled in Kit Burns' liquor shop, very few of whom were roughs. The majority seemed to be business men and clerks, who stopped in to see what was going on, in a casual manner. In a few minutes after twelve the pit was filled up very comfortably, and Mr. Van Meter made his appearance and took up a position where he could address the crowd from the center of the pit, inside the barriers. The roughs and dry clerks piled themselves up as high as the roof, tier by tier, and a sickening odor came from the dogs and debris of rats' bones under the seats Kit stood outside, cursing and damning the eyes of the missionaries for not hurrying up.Kit said, "I'm damned if some of the people that come here oughtn't to be clubbed. A fellow 'ud think they had never seen a dogpit before. I must be damned good looking to have so many fine fellows looking at me".
The sportsman arms was closed down in 1870 after Kit burns was charged with animal cruelty by the founder of the ASPCA Henry Burgh. Burns and everyone involved were arrested and took to court where they were aquitted. After the trial Burns caught a cold and led to Pneumonia and he died on december the 19th 1870 and is buried in Calvary cemetery. Not much of the original building still stands to this day although apartments have been built in its
place and is the 3rd oldest building in Manhattan. COPYRIGHT 2013 M.BLACKETT
AN ELECTRIC ATOMSPHERE
Modern day boxing halls are often described as having an electric atmosphere and yet this expression was well suited to a 19th
century saloon in the US owned by English born Boxing promoter, referee and all-round entrepreneur Harry Hill.
Harry was born in 1827 and left his native Liverpool, England aged 25 and immigrated to the US after meeting a wealthy Sugar magnate called George M. Woolsey at the Epsom Racecourse where Hill had frequented and worked since boyhood. Gambling had always been a fascination to Harry but his biggest gamble came when he accepted his sugar daddy’s offer to look after his stables in New York.
Taking risks was something which Harry seemed to take in his stride and within 2 years of moving to the states he left the stables in Astoria and moved to New York City to buy and sell horses. Lady luck shone upon him and by 1854 he had saved up enough money to buy a general dealer store which he then was granted permission to be able to sell alcohol, this opened an opportunity for him to further expand by opening a salon and concert stage.
It was an old two storey wooden building where guests would pay a charge to enter, even though women could technically gain entry no woman with any worth ever did except the staff and women of ill repute.
It catered for a variety of entertainment including singing, dancing, billiards and Prize fighting. A selling point was that the nightly entertainment could continue in electric light due to its installation by no other than Thomas Edison and he used this fact to gather publicity to the fights which were held there. Many notable fighters fought at Harry’s saloon including John Sullivan in his fight under the Queensbury gloves 2 round win over Steve Taylor and a list of some of the greats of the days of pugilism including Jem Mace, Mike Donavan, Herb Slade, Jack “Nonpareil Dempsey and also a host of wrestling bouts. Women’s boxing was also commonplace and helped Harry sell even more overpriced drink and none other than Nell Saunders and Rose Harland fougt.
Other notable regular visitors to the saloon and friends of Harry’s was the great wrestler and friend and trainer to the “Boston Strongboy” William Muldoon and the National Police Gazette founder Richard K. Fox who reported on many of the fights which took place. The Gazette was about the biggest sports paper and after falling out with John L Sullivan one night at the saloon Fox went looking for a fighting capable of defeating him and of course this resulted in Sullivan’s bout with Jake Kilrain.
Harry earned a vast fortune in the saloon and dance hall in the 32 years he owned it and was one of the main figures in regulating boxing bouts in the USA and evaded the authorities by announcing most of the fights as exhibitions and even though his emporium gained a lot of negative press due to the heavy drinking and prostitution he was eventually elected into the Bareknuckle Hall of Fame in 2010.
IMAGES ARE ALL FROM HARRY HILLS
THOMAS EDISON THE AMERICAN BORN INVENTOR WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR INSTALLING THE ELECTRIC LIGHTING AT HARRY HILLS SALOON.
THE HATCHET INN
The Hatchett Inn situated in Bristol, England dates back to 1606, and during the 1800's it was at the centre of pugilism.
The area produced many notable Bareknuckefighters of the past including Jem Becher,Tom Cribb,John Gully, Henry Pearce ...and Benjamin Brain and all these great fightersfought at the Hatchett at one timeor another as well as other pubs in Bristol.To honor their achievements a plaque was unveiled and named "The Bristol Boys" this was performed by the former boxer Glenn Catley and in attendance at the opening ceremony were many relatives of the geat fghters of the Regncy period......
The youtube clip below is of the unveiling ceremony itself
SULLIVAN V MITCHELL
When Sullivan fought Charlie Mitchell he not only had to fight in drenched conditions and freezing temperatures but against a man he called " That bombastic sprinter".
The fight was held at the Baron de Rothschild's estate at Chantilly and the fight was a fiasco. Mitchell ran the full fight avoiding anything that sullivan accepted to land and even the lightest tap he recieved he went down.
In Mitchell's corner was his father in law ' Pony' Moore who had bet every penny he owned on Charlie.
At the first fall, he cried out : " there goes my boy!"
At the second fall, he screamed: " there goes my house!"
And when Mitchell went down the third time he howled," There goes my estate and everything!"
The ref called it a draw when both men were exhausted and purple with cold, even though both were standing for the 39th round the fight was over. Sullivan felt frustrated that he couldnt land a telling punch on Mitchell and to make matters worse he had to endure passing the night in the next cell to Mitchell when they were both arrested by Police WHO had been waiting behind bushes on the estate they had fought on.
Charlie Mitchell on the left and above against John L.
William Hazlitt's first hand account of a Bareknuckle bout which took place on December the 11th 1821 between Bill Neate and Tom Hickman. It first appeared in New Monthly Magazine just 2 months later and was suitably named " THE FIGHT"
Where there's a will, there's a way. - I said so to myself, as I walked down Chancery-lane, about half-past six o'clock on Monday the 10th of December, to inquire at Jack Randall's where the fight the next day was to be; and I found "the proverb" nothing "musty" in the present instance. I was determined to see this fight, come what would, and see it I did, in great style. It was my first fight, yet it more than answered my expectations. Ladies! it is to you I dedicate this description; nor let it seem out of character for the fair to
notice the exploits of the brave. Courage and modesty are the old English virtues; and may they never look cold and askance on one another! Think, ye fairest of the fair, loveliest of the lovely kind, ye practisers of soft enchantment, how many more ye kill with poisoned baits than ever fell in the ring; and listed with subdued air and without shuddering, to a tale tragic only in appearance, and sacred to the FANCY!
I was going down Chancery-lane, thinking to ask at Jack Randall's where the fight was to be, when looking through the glass-door of the "Hole in the Wall," I heard a gentleman asking the same question at Mrs. Randall, as the author2 of "Waverley" would express it. Now Mrs. Randall stood answering the gentlemen's question, with the authenticity of the lady of the Champion of the Light Weights. Thinks I, I'll wait till this person comes out, and learn from him how it is. For to say a truth, I was not fond of going into this house to call for heroes and philosophers, ever since the owner of it (for Jack is no gentleman) threatened once upon a time to kick me out of doors for wanting a mutton-chop at his hospitable board, when the conqueror in thirteen battles was more full of blue ruin than of good manners. I was the more mortified at this repulse, inasmuch as I had heard Mr. James Simpkin, hosier in the Strand, one day when the character of the "Hold in the Wall" was brought in question, observe - "The house is a very good house, and the company
quite genteel: I have been there myself!" Remembering this unkind treatment of mine host, to which mine hostess was also a party, and not wishing to put her in unquiet thoughts at a time jubilant like the present, I waited at the door, when, who should issue forth but my friend Jo. Toms, and turning suddenly up Chancery-lane with that quick jerk and impatient stride which distinguishes a lover of the FANCY, I said, "I'll be hanged if that fellow is not going to the fight, and is on his way to get me to go with him." So it proved in effect, and we agreed to adjourn to my lodgings to discuss measures with that cordiality which makes old friends like new, and new friends like old, on great occasions.
We are cold to others only when we are dull in ourselves, and have neither thoughts nor feelings to impart to them. Give a man a topic in his head, a throb of pleasure in his heart, and he will be glad to share it with the first person he meets. Toms and I, though we seldom meet, were an alter idem on this memorable occasion, and had not an idea that we did not candidly impart; and "so carelessly did we fleet the time," that I wish no better, when there is another fight, than to have him for a companion on my journey down, and to return with my friend Jack Pigott, talking of what was to happen or of what did happen, with a noble subject always at hand, and liberty to digress to others whenever they offered. Indeed, on my repeating the lines from Spenser in an involuntary fit of enthusiasm,
What more felicity can fall to creature, than to enjoy delight with liberty?
my last-named ingenious friend stopped me by saying that this, translated into the vulgate, meant "Going to see a fight."
Jo. Toms and I could not settle about the method of going down. He said there was a caravan, he understood, to start from Tom Belcher's at two, which would go there right out and back again the next day. Now I never travel all night, and said I should get a cast to Newbury by one of the mails. Jo. swore the thing was impossible, and I could only answer that I had made up my mind to it. In short, he seemed to me to waver, said he only came to see if I was going, had letters to write, a cause coming on the day after, and faintly said at parting (for I was bent on setting out that moment) - "Well, we meet at Philippi!" I made the best of my way to Piccadilly. The mail coach stand was bare. "They are all gone," said I - "this is always the way with me - in the instant I lose the future - if I had not stayed to pour out that last cup of tea, I should have been just in time" - and cursing my folly and ill- luck together, without inquiring at the coach-office whether the mails were gone or not, I walked on in despite, and to punish my own dilatoriness and want of determination. At any rate, I would not turn back: I might get to Hounslow, or perhaps farther, to be on my road the next morning. I passed Hyde Park Corner (my Rubicon), and trusted to fortune. Suddenly I heard the clattering of a Brentford stage, and the fight rushed full upon my fancy. I argued (not unwisely) that even a Brentford coachman was better company than my own thoughts (such as they were just then), and at his invitation mounted the box with him. I immediately stated my case to him - namely, my quarrel with myself for missing the Bath or Bristol mail, and my determination to get on in consequence as well as I could, without any disparagement or insulting comparison between longer or shorter stages. It is a maxim with me that stage-coaches, and consequently stage-coachmen, are respectable in proportion to the distance they have to travel: so I said nothing on that subject to my Brentford friend. Any incipient tendency to an abstract proposition, or (as he might have construed it) to a personal reflection of this kind, was however nipped in the bud; for I had no sooner declared indignantly that I had missed the mails, than he flatly denied that they were gone along, and lo! at the instant three of them drove by in rapid, provoking, orderly succession, as if they would devour the ground before them. Here again I seemed in the contradictory situation of the man in Dryden who exclaims,
I follow Fate, which does too hard pursue!
If I had stopped to inquire at the "White Horse Cellar," which would not have taken me a minute, I should now have been driving down the road in all the dignified unconcern and ideal perfection of mechanical conveyance. The Bath mail I had set my mind upon, and I had missed it, as I missed everything else, by my own absurdity, in putting the will for the deed, and aiming at ends without employing means. "Sir," said he of the Brentford, "The Bath mail will be up presently, my brother-in-law drives it, and I will engage to stop him if there is a place empty." I almost doubted my good genius; but, sure enough, up it drove like lightning, and stopped directly at the call of the Brentford Jehu. I would not have believed this possible, but the brother-in-law of a mail-coach driver is himself no mean man. I was transferred without loss of time from the top of one coach to that of the other, desired the guard to pay my fare to the Brentford coachman for me as I had no change, was accommodated with a great coat, put up my umbrella to keep off a drizzling mist, and we began to cut through the air like an arrow. The mile-stones disappeared one after another, the rain kept off; Tom Turtle, the trainer, sat before me on the coach-box, with whom I exchanged civilities as a gentleman going to the fight; the passion that had transported me an hour before was subdued to pensive regret and conjectural musing on the next day's battle; I was promised a place inside at Reading, and upon the whole, I thought myself a lucky fellow. Such is the force of imagination! On the outside of any other coach on the 10th of December, with a Scotch mist drizzling through the cloudy moonlight air, I should have been cold, comfortless, impatient, and, no doubt, wet through; but seated on the Royal mail, I felt warm and comfortable, the air did me good, the ride did me good, I was pleased with the progress we had made, and confident that all would go well through the journey. When I got inside at Reading, I found Turtle and a stout valetudinarian, whose costume bespoke him one of the FANCY, and who had risen from a three months' sick bed to get into the mail to see the fight. They were intimate, and we fell into a lively discourse. My friend the trainer was confined in his topics to fightin dogs and men, to bears and badgers; beyond this he was "quite chap-fallen," had not a word to throw at a dog, or indeed very wisely fell asleep, when any other game was started. The whole art of training (I, however, learnt from him), consists in two things, exercise and abstinence, abstinence and exercise, repeated alternately without end. A yolk of an egg with a spoonful of rum in it is the first thing in a morning, and then a walk of six miles till breakfast. This meal consists of a plentiful supply of tea and toast and beef steaks. Then another six or seven miles till dinner-time, and another supply of solid beef or mutton with a pint of porter, and perhaps, at the utmost, a couple of glasses of sherry. Martin trains on water, but this increases his infirmity on another very dangerous side. The Gas-man takes now and then a chirping glass (under the rose) to console him, during a six weeks' probation, for the absence of Mrs. Hickman - an agreeable woman, with (I understand) a pretty fortune of two hundred pounds. How matter presses on me! What stubborn things are facts! How inexhaustible is nature and art! "It is well," as I once heard Mr. Richmond observe, "to see a variety." He was speaking of cock-fighting as an edifying spectacle. I cannot deny but that one learns more of what is (I do not say of what ought to be) in this desultory mode of practical study, than from reading the same book twice over, even though it should be a moral treatise. Where was I? I was sitting at dinner with the candidate for the honours of the ring, "where good digestion waits on appetite, and health on both." Then follows an hour of social chat and native glee; and afterwards, to another breathing over heathy hill or dale. Back to supper, and then to bed, and up by six again - Our
Follows the ever-running sun With profitable ardour -
to the day that brings him victory or defeat in the green fairy circle. Is not this life more sweet than mine? I was going to say; but I will not libel any life by comparing it to mine, which is (at the date of these presents) bitter as coloquintida and the dregs of aconitum!The invalid in the Bath mail soared a pitch above the trainer, and did not sleep so sound, because he had "more figures and more fantasies." We talked the hours away merrily. He had faith in surgery, for he had had three ribs set right, that had been broken in a turn-up at Belcher's, but thought physicians old women, for they had no antidote in their catalogue for brandy. An indigestion is an excellent commonplace for two people that never met before.
By way of ingratiating myself, I told him the story of my doctor, who, on my earnestly representing to him that I thought his regimen had done me harm, assured me that the whole pharmacopeia contained nothing comparable to the prescription he had given me; and, as a proof of his undoubted efficacy, said, that, "he had had one gentleman with my complaint under his hands for the last fifteen years." This anecdote made my companion shake the rough sides of his three great coats with boisterous laughter; and Turtle, starting out of his sleep, swore he knew how the fight would go, for he had had a dream about it. Sure enough, the rascal told us how the first rounds went off, but "his dream," like others, "denoted a foregone conclusion." He knew his men. The moon now rose in silver state, and I ventured, with some hesitation, to point out this object of placid beauty, with the blue serene beyond, to the man of science, to
which his ear he "seriously inclined," the more as it gave promise d'un beaujour for the morrow, and showed the ring undrenched by envious showers, arrayed in sunny smiles. Just then, all going on well, I thought on my friend Toms, whom I had left behind, and said innocently, "There was ablockhead of a fellow I left in town, who said there was no possibility of getting down by the mail, and talked of going by a caravan from Belcher's at two in the morning, after he had written some letters." "Why," said he of the lapells, "I should not wonder if that was the very person we saw running about like mad from one coach-door to another, and asking if anyone had seen a friend of his, a gentleman going to the fight, whom he had missed stupidly enough by staying to write a note." "Pray, Sir," said my fellow-traveller, "he had a plaid-cloak on?" - "Why, no," said I, "not at the time I left him, but he very well might afterwards, for he offered to lend me one." The plain-cloak and the letter decided the thing. Joe,3 sure enough, was in the Bristol mail, which preceded us by about fifty yards. This was droll enough. We had now but a few miles to our place of destination, and the first thing I did on alighting at Newbury, both coaches stopping at the same time, was to call out, "Pray, is there a gentleman in that mail of the name of Toms?" "No," said Joe, borrowing something of the vein of Gilpin, "for I have just got out." "Well!" says he, "this is lucky; but you don't know how vexed I was to miss you; for," added he, lowering his voice, "did you know when I left you I went to Belcher's to ask about the caravan, and Mrs. Belcher said very obligingly, she couldn't tell about that, but there were two gentlemen who had taken places by the mail and were gone on in a landau, and she could frank us. It's a pity I didn't meet with you; we could then have got down for nothing. But mum's the word." It's the devil for anyone to tell me a secret, for it's sure to come out in print. I do not care so much to gratify a friend, but the public ear to too great a temptation to me.Our present business was to get beds and a supper at an inn; but this was no easy task. The public-houses were full, and where you saw a light at a private house, and people poking their heads out of the casement to see what was going on, they instantly put them in and shut the window, the moment you seemed advancing with a suspicious overture for accommodation. Our guard and coachman thundered away at the outer gate of the "Crown" for some time without effect - such was the greater noise within; - and when the doors were unbarred, and we got admittance, we found a party assembled in the kitchen round a good hospitable fire, some sleeping, others drinking, others talking on politics and on the fight. A tall English yeoman (something like Matthews in the face, and quite as great a wag) -
A lusty man to ben an abbot able, -was making such a prodigious noise about rent and taxes, and the price of corn no and formerly, that he had prevented us from being heard at the gate. The first thing I heard him say was to a shuffling fellow who wanted to be off a bet for a shilling glass of brandy and water - "Confound it, man, don't be insipid!" Thinks I, that is a good phrase. It was a good omen. He kept it up so all night, nor flinched with the approach of morning. He was a fine fellow, with sense, wit, and spirit, a hearty body and a joyous mind, free-spoken, frank, convivial - one of that true English breed that went with Harry the Fifth to the siege of Harfleur - "standing like greyhounds in the slips," etc. We ordered tea and eggs (beds were soon found to be out of the question) and this fellow's conversation was sauce piquante. It did one's heart good to see him brandish his oaken towel and to hear him talk. He made mince-meat of a drunken, stupid, red-faced, quarrelsome, frowsy farmer, whose nose "he moralised into a thousand similes," making it out a firebrand like Bardolph's. "I'll tell you what my friend," says he, "the landlady has only to keep you here to save fire and candle. If one was to touch your nose, it would go off like a piece of charcoal." At this the other only grinned like an idiot, the sole variety in his purple face being his little peering grey eyes and yellow teeth; called for another glass, swore he would not stand it; and after many attempts to provoke his humorous antagonist to singe combat, which the other turned off (after working him up to a ludicrous pitch of choler) with great adroitness, he fell quietly asleep with a glass of liquor in his hand, which he could not lift to his head. His laughing persecutor made a speech over him, and turning to the opposite side of the room, where they were all sleeping in the midst of this "loud and furious sun,"said, "There's a scene, by G-d, for Hogarth to paint. I think he and Shakespeare were our two best men at copying life." This confirmed me in my good opinion of him. Hogarth, Shakespeare, and Nature, were just enough for him (indeed for any man) to know. I said, "You read Cobbett, don't you? At least," says I, "you talk just as well as he writes." He seemed to doubt this. But I said, "We have an hour to spare; if you'll get pen, ink, and paper, and keep on talking, I'll write down what you say; and if it doesn't make a capital 'Political Register,' I'll forfeit my head. You have kept me alive to-night, however. I don't know what I should have done without you. He did not dislike this view of the thing, nor my asking if he was not about the size of Jem Belcher; and told me soon afterwards, in the confidence of friendship, that "the circumstance which had given him nearly the greatest concern in his life, was Cribb's beating Jem after he had lost his eye by racket-playing." - The morningdawns; that dim but yet clear light appears, which weighs like solid bars of metal on the sleepless eyelids; the guests drop down from their chambers one by one - but it was too late to think of going to bed now (the clock was on the stroke of seven), we had nothing for it but to find a barber's (the pole that glittered in the morning sun lighted us to his shop), and then a nine miles' march to Hungerford. The day was fine, the sky was blue, the mists were retiring from the marshy ground, the path was tolerably dry, the sitting-up all night had not done us much harm - at least the cause was good; we talked of this and that with amicable difference, roving and sipping of many subjects, but still invariably we returned to the fight. At length, a mile to the left of Hungerford, on a gentle eminence, we saw the ring surrounded by covered carts, gigs, and carriages, of which hundreds had passed us on the road; Toms gave a youthful shout, and we hastened down a narrow lane to thescene of action.
Reader, have you ever seen a fight? If not, you have a pleasure to come, at least if it is a fight like that between the Gas-man and Bill Neate. The crowd was very great when we arrived on the spot; open carriages were coming up, with streamers flying and music playing, and the country-people were pouring in over hedge and ditch in all directions, to see their hero beat or be beaten. The odds were still on Gas, but only about five to four. Gully had been down to try Neate, and had backed him considerably, which was a damper to the sanguine confidence of the adverse party. About two hundred thousand pounds were pending. The Gas says, he has lost £3,000 which were promised him by different gentlemen if he had won. He had presumed too much on himself, which had made others presume on him. This spirited and formidable young fellow seems to have taken for his motto the old maxim, that "there are three things necessary tosuccess in life - Impudence! Impudence! Impudence!" It is so in matters of opinion, but not in the FANCY, which is the most practical of all things, though even here confidence is half the battle, but only half. Our friend had vapoured and swaggered too much, as if he wanted to grin and bully his adversary out of the fight. "Alas! the Bristol man was not so tamed!" - "This is the grave digger" (would Tom Hickman exclaim in the moments of intoxication from gin and success, showing his tremendous right hand), "this will send many of them to their long homes; I haven't done with them yet!" Why should he - though he had licked four of the best men within the hour, yet why should he threaten to inflict dishonourable chastisement on my old master Richmond, a veteran going off the stage, and who has borne his sable honours meekly? Magnanimity, my dear Tom, and bravery, should be inseparable. Or why should he go up to his antagonist, the first time he ever saw him at the Fives Court, and measuring him from head to foot with a glance of contempt, as Achilles surveyed Hector, say to him, "What, are you Bill Neate? I'll knock more blood out of
that great carcase of thine, this day fortnight, than you ever knock'd out of a bullock's!" It was not manly, 'twas not fighter- like. If he was sure of the victory (as he was not), the less said about it the better. Modesty should accompany the FANCY as its shadow. The best men were always the best behaved. Jem Belcher, the Game Chicken (before whom the Gas-man could not have lived) were civil, silent men. So is Cribb, so is Tom Belcher, the most elegant of sparrers, and not a man for every one to take by the nose. I enlarged on this topic in the mail (while Turtle was asleep), and said very wisely (as I thought) that impertinence was a part of no profession. A boxer was bound to beat his man, but not to thrust his fist, either actually or by implication, in every one's face. Even a highwayman, in the way of trade, may blow out your brains, but if he uses foul language at the same time, I should say he was no gentleman. A boxer, I would infer, need not be a blackguard or a coxcomb, more than another. Perhaps I press this point too much on a fallen man -
Mr. Thomas Hickman has by this time learnt that first of all lessons, "That man was made to mourn." He has lost nothing by the late fight but his presumption; and that every man may do as well without! By an overly-display of this quality, however, the public has been prejudiced against him, and the knowing-ones were taken in. Few but those who had bet on him wished Gas to win. With my own prepossessions on the subject, the result of the 11th of December appeared to me as fine a piece of poetical justice as I had ever witnessed. The difference of weight between the two combatants (14 stone to 12) was nothing to the sporting men. Great, heavy, clumsy, long-armed Bill Neate kicked the beam in the scale of the Gas-man's vanity. The amateurs were frightened at his big words, and thought that they would make up for the difference of six feet and five feet nine. Truly, the FANCY are not men of imagination. They judge of what has been, and cannot conceive of anything that is to be. The Gas-man had won hitherto; therefore he must beat a man half as big again as himself - and that to a certainty. Besides, there are as many feuds, factions, prejudices, pedantic notions in the FANCY as in the state or in the schools. Mr. Gully is almost the only cool, sensible man among them, who exercises an unbiassed discretion, and is not a slave to his passions in these matters. But enough of reflections, and to our tale. The day, as I have said, was fine for a December morning. The grass was wet, and the ground miry, and ploughed up with multitudinous feet, except that, within the ring itself, there was a spot of virgin-green closed in and unprofaned by vulgar tread, that shone with dazzling brightness in the mid-day sun. For it was noon now, and we had an hour to wait. This is the trying time. It is then the heart sickens, as you think what the two champions are about, and how short a time will determine their fate. After the first blow is struck, there is no opportunity for nervous apprehensions; you are swallowed up in the immediate interest of the scene - but
Between the acting of a dreadful thing And the first motion, all the interim is Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream
I found it so as I felt the sun's rays clinging to my back, and saw the white wintry clouds sink below the verge of the horizon. "So," I thought, "my fairest hopes have faded from my side! - so will the Gas-man's glory, or that of his adversary, vanish in an hour." The swells were parading in their white box-coats, the outer ring was cleared with some bruises on the heads and shins of the rustic assembly (for the cockneys had been distanced by the sixty- six miles); the time drew near, I had got a good stand; a bustle, a buzz, ran through the crowd, and from the opposite side entered Neate, between his second and bottle-holder. He rolled along, swathed in his loose great coat, his knock-knees bending under his huge bulk; and, with a modest cheerful air, threw his hat into the ring. He then just looked round, and began quietly to undress; when from the other side there was a similar rush and an opening made, and the Gas-man came forward with a conscious air of anticipated triumph, too much like the cock-of-the-walk. He strutted about more than became a hero, sucked oranges with a supercilious air, and threw away the skin with a toss of his head, and went up and looked at Neate, which was an act of supererogation. The only sensible thing he did was, as he strode away from the modern Ajax, to fling out his arms, as if he wanted to try whether they would do their work that day. By this time they had stripped, and presented a strong contrast in appearance. If Neate was like Ajax, "with Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear" the pugilistic reputation of all Bristol, Hickman might be compared to Diomed, light, vigorous, elastic, and his back glistened in the sun, as he moved about, like a panther's hide. There was now a dead pause - attention was awe-struck. Who at that moment, big with a great event, did not draw his breath short - did not feel his heart throb? All was ready. They tossed up for the sun, and the Gas-man won. They were lead up to the scratch - shook hands, and went at it.
In the first round everyone thought it was all over. After making play a short time, the Gas-man flew at his adversary like a tiger, struck five blow in as many seconds, three first, and then following him as he staggered back, two more, right and left, and down he fell, a might ruin. There was a shout, and I said, "There is no standing this." Neate seemed like a lifeless lump of flesh and bone, round which the Gas-man's blows played with the rapidity of electricity or lighting, and you imagined he would only be lifted up to be knocked down again. It was as if Hickman held a sword or a fire in the right hand of his, and directed it against an unarmed body. They met again, and Neate seemed, not cowed, but particularly cautious. I saw his teeth clenched together and his brows knit close against the sun. He held out both his arms at full-length straight before him, like two sledge-hammers, and raised his left an inch or two higher. The Gas-man could not get over this guard - they struck mutually and fell, but without advantage on either side. It was the same in the next round; but the balance of power was thus restored - the fate of the battle was suspended. No one could tell how it would end. This was the only moment in which opinion was divided; for, in the next, the Gas-man aiming a mortal blowat his adversary's neck, with his right hand, and failing from the length he had to reach, the other returned it with his left at full swing, planted a tremendous blow on his cheek-bone and eyebrow, and made a red ruin of that side of his face. The Gas-man went down, and there was another shout - a roar of triumph as the waves of fortune rolled tumultuously from side to side. This was a settler. Hickman got up, and "grinned horrible a ghastly smile," yet he was evidently dashed in his opinion of himself; it was the first time he had ever been so punished; all one side of his face was perfect scarlet, and his right eye was closed in dingy blackness, as he advanced to the fight, less confident, but still determined. After one or two rounds, not receiving another such remembrancer, he rallied and went at it with his former impetuosity. But in vain. His strength had been weakened, - his blows could not tell at such a distance, - he was obliged to fling himself at his adversary, and could not strike from his feet; and almost as regularly as he flew at him with his right hand, Neate warded the blow, or drew back out of its reach, and felled him with the return of his left. There was little cautious sparring - no half-hits - no tapping and trifling, none of the petit-maîtreship of the art - they were almost all knock-down blows: - the fight was a good stand-up fight. The wonder was the half-minute time. If there had been a minute or more allowed between each round, it would have been intelligible how they should by degrees recover strength and resolution; but to see two men smashed to the ground, smeared with gore, stunned, senseless, the breath beaten out of their bodies; and then, before you recover from the shock, to see them rise up with new strength and courage, stand steady to inflict or receive mortal offence, and rush upon each other, "like two clouds over the Caspian" - this is the most astonishing thing of all: - this is the high and heroic state of man! From this time forward the event became more certain every round; and about the twelfth it seemed as if it must have been over. Hickman generally stood with his back to me; but in the scuffle, he had changed positions, and Neate just then made a tremendous lunge at him, and hit him full in the face. It was doubtful whether he would fall backwards or forwards; he hung suspended for about a second or two, and then fell back, throwing his hands in the air, and with his face lifted up to the sky. I never saw anything more terrific than his aspect just before he fell. All traces of life, of natural expression, were gone from him.
His face was like a human skull, a death's head, spouting blood. The eyes were filled with blood, the nose streamed with blood, the mouth gaped blood. He was not like an actual man, but like a preternatural, spectral appearance, or like one of the figures in Dante's "Inferno." Yet he fought on after this for several rounds, still striking the first desperate blow, and Neate standing on the defensive, and using the same cautious guard to the last, as if he had still all his work to do; and it was not till the Gas-man was so stunned in the seventeenth or eighteenth round, that his senses forsook him, and he could not ome to time, that the battle was declared over. Ye who despise the FANCY, do something to show as much pluck, or as much self-possession as this, before you assume a superiority which you have never given a single proof of by any one action in the whole course of your lives! - When the Gas-man came to himself, the first words he uttered were,
"Where am I? What is the matter!" "Nothing is the matter, Tom - you have lost the battle, but you are the bravest man alive." And Jackson whispered to him, "I am collecting a purse for you, Tom." - Vain sounds, and unheard at that moment! Neate instantly went up and shook him cordially by the hand, and seeing some old acquaintance, began to flourish with his fists, calling out, "Ah, you always said I couldn't fight - What do you think now?" But all in good humour, and without any appearance of arrogance; only it was evident Bill Neate was pleased that he had won the fight. When it was all over, I asked Cribb if he did not think it was a good one? He has, "Pretty well!" The carrier-pigeons now mounted into the air, and one of them flew with the news of her husband's victory to the bosom of Mrs. Neate. Alas, for Mrs. Hickman!
Mais au revoir, as Sir Fopling Flutter says. I went down with Toms;
I returned with Jack Pigott, whom I met on the ground. Toms is a rattle-brain; Pigott is a sentimentalist. Now, under favour, I am a sentimentalist too - therefore I say nothing, but that the interest of the excursion did not flag as I came back. Pigott and I marched along the causeway leading from Hungerford to Newbury, now observing the effect of a brilliant sun on the tawny meads or moss-coloured cottages, now exulting in the fight, now digressing to some topic of general and elegant literature. My friend was dressed in character for the occasion, or like one of the FANCY; that is, with a double portion of great coats, clogs, and overhauls: and just as we had agreed with a couple of country-lads to carry his superfluous wearing- apparel to the next town, we were overtaken by a return post-chaise, into which I got, Pigott preferring to eat on the bar. There were two strangers already in the chaise, and on their observing they supposed I had been to the fight, I said I had, and concluded they had done the same. They appeared, however, a little shy and sore on the subject; and it was not fill after several hints dropped, and questions put, that it turned out that they had missed it. One of these friends had undertaken to drive the other there in his gig: they had set out, to make sure work, the day before at three in the afternoon. The owner of the one- horse vehicle scorned to ask his way, and drove right on to Bagshot, instead of turning off at Hounslow: there they stopped all night, and set off the next day across the country to Reading, from whence they took coach, and got down within a mile or two of Hungerford, just half an hour after the fight was over. This might be safely set down as one of the miseries of human life. We parted with these two
gentlemen who had been to see the fight, but had returned as they went, at Wolhampton, where we were promised beds (an irresistible temptation, for Pigott had passed the preceding night at Hungerford, as we had done at Newbury; and we
turned into an old bow-windowed parlour with a carpet and a snug fire; and after devouring a quantity of tea, toast, and eggs, sat down to consider, during an hour of philosophic leisure, what we should have for supper. In the midst of an Epicurean deliberation between a roasted fowl and mutton chops with mashed potatoes, we were interrupted by an inroad of Goths and Vandals - O
procul este profani - not real flash-men, but interlopers, noisy pretenders, butchers from Tothillfields, brokers from Whitechapel, who called immediately for pipes and tobacco, hoping it would not be disagreeable to the gentlemen, and began to insist that it was a cross. Pigott withdrew from the smoke and noise into another room, and left me to dispute the point with them for a couple of hours sans intermission by the dial. The next morning we rose refreshed; and on observing that Jack had a pocket volume in his hand, in which he read in the intervals of our discourse, I inquired what it was, and learned to my particular satisfaction that it was a volume of the New Eloise." Ladies, after this, will you contend that a love for the FANCY is incompatible with the cultivation of sentiment? - We jogged on as before, my friend setting me up in a genteel drab great coat and green silk handkerchief (which I must say became me exceedingly), and after stretching our legs for a few miles, and seeing Jack Randall, Ned Turner, and Scroggins, pass on the top of one of the Bath coaches, we engaged with the driver of the second to take us to London for the usual fee. I got inside, and found three other passengers. One of them was an old gentleman with an aquiline nose, powdered hair, and a pigtail, and who looked
as if he had played many a rubber at the Bath rooms. I said to myself, he is very like Mr. Windham; I wish he would enter into conversation, that I might hear what fine observations would come from those finely-turned features. However, nothing passed, till, stopping to dine at Reading, some inquiry was made by the company about the fight, and I gave (as the reader may believe) an eloquent and animated description of it. When we got into the coach again, the old gentleman, after a graceful exordium, said, he had, when a boy, been to a fight between the famous Broughton and George Stevenson, who was called the Fighting Coachman, in the year 1770, with the late Mr. Windham. This beginning flattered the spirit of prophecy within me and rivetted my attention. He went on - "George Stevenson was coachman to a friend of my father's. He was an old man when I saw him some years afterwards. He took hold of his own arm and said, There was muscle here once, but now it is no more than this young gentleman's.' He added, 'Well, no matter; I have been here long, I am willing to go hence, and I hope I have done no more harm than another man.' Once," said my unknown companion, "I asked him if he had ever beat Broughton? He said Yes; that he had fought with him three times, and the last time he fairly beat him, though the world did not allow it. 'I'll tell you how it was, master. When the seconds lifted us up in the last round, we were so exhausted that neither of us could stand, and we fell upon one another, and as Master Broughton fell
uppermost, the mob gave it in his favour, and he was said to have won the battle. But,' says he, 'the fact was, that as his second (John Cuthbert) lifted him up, he said to him, "I'll fight no more, I've had enough;" 'which,' says Stevenson, 'you know gave me the victory. And to prove to you that this was the case, when John Cuthbert was on his death-bed, and they asked him if there was anything on his mind which he wished to confess, he answered, "Yes, that there was one thing he wished to set right, for that certainly Master Stevenson won that last fight with Master Broughton; for he whispered him as he lifted him up in the last round of all, that he had had enough."'" "This," said the Bath gentleman, "was a bit of human nature;" and I have written this account of the fight on purpose that it might not be lost to the world. He also stated as a proof of the candour of mind in this class of men, that Stevenson acknowledged that Broughton could have beat him in his best day; but that he (Broughton) was getting old in their last encounter. When we stopped in Piccadilly, I wanted to ask the gentleman some questions about the late Mr. Windham, but had not courage. I got out, resigned my coat and green silk handkerchief to Pigott (loth to part with these ornaments of life), and walked home in high spirits.
P.S. Toms called upon me the next day, to ask me if I did not think the fight was a complete thing? I said I thought it was. I hope he will relish my account of it.
ONE OF THE MANY POETS WHO FAVOURED BKB
A PICTURE OF LORD BYRON( left)Throughout the history of Bareknuckle Boxing it has been well documented in a somewhat misleading way that the followers of this ancient and noble sport were characters of ill repute. Even going back to the days of the Cestus and the introduction of the metal spikes and studs to inflict as much damage and injury to the fighters as possible often leading to death were as a result of what the public demanded, BLOOD AND GUTSWhen these gloves of death were abolished the sport quickly followed it into obscurity and remained dormant for well over a thousand years.
When the sport resurfaced among its supporters were the Aristocracy who financed the first organised amphitheatres and the accounts of many of the big fights are within easy reach of anyone with a simple computer. Its suggested that the reason BKB became less fashionable towards the late 1800’s was the violence and rowdy crowds that followed these fights and the more you read the more the sport is Blackened by dodgy betting, fixed fights, deaths and general chaos and disorganisation. Bear baiting and cockfighting events were still able to be advertised in the newspapers at this time but not the Noble Art. Many painters and artists followed the fight scene and they produced some great works of art including paintings, sketches and pottery which showed or celebrated the sport.
Infact stamps have been issued showing the past fighters and museums throughout the world and collectors seek out any items to do with Bareknuckle Boxing. It seems odd to many that Poets would follow such a hard and sometimes brutal pastime, they certainly didn’t write their verse in a slamming and critical way but they honoured the great will and courage of the fighters taking part. The sports writer and sometimes forgotten poet Pierce Egan followed and wrote accounts of what took place up until the middle of the 19th century. A few of the poets who not only supported but wrote classic lines included Lord Byron, himself a decent boxer and all round sportsman, he was even instructed in fisticuffs by John “ Gentleman” Jackson which Byron described as his master.In 1811 a short piece by Byron goes as follows.“Who shoot not flying rarely touch a gun: Will he who swims not to the river run? And men unpractised in exchanging knocks Must go to Jackson ere they dare to box”Among other poets who put pen to paper and had real passion for it included Thomas Moore, John Keats, John Clare and John Reynolds. A great piece was written by Egan “A boxing we will Go” which attempted give the sport credibility and indeed pride in Britain at a time when many wanted the sport outlawed, and at the time of writing Britain was at war with France.
“Come move the song and stir the glass,
For why should we be sad?
Let’s drink to some free-hearted lass,
And Crib, the boxing lad.
And a boxing we will go, will go, will go,
And a boxing we will go.
Italians stab their friends behind,
In darkest shades of night;
But Britons they are bold and kind,
And box their friends by light.
The sons of France their pistols use,
Pop, pop, and they have done;
But Britons with their hands will bruise,
And scorn away to run.
Throw pistols, poniards, swords aside,
And all such deadly tools;
Let boxing be the Briton’s pride,
The science of their schools!
This was just one verse of the poem and it’s well worth reading it in full and lots of others available on the internet. Regardless that eventually Gloved Boxing took over BKB I look forward to the day that modern poets will write about the current fights and also the fights in the future. COPYRIGHT M.BLACKETT 2012
Just as John L. Sullivan had the help from William Muldoon to shed his excess weight in his build up to kirain fight, Tom Cribb was also helped in his return bout with Molineaux in which he lost over 30 lbs.The man responsible was Captain Barclay. He allowed Cribb to train on his esate supervised by himself in Stonehaven which he had inherited at the age of 18 when his father died. Barclay had amazing stanima and held many records of walking endurance including walking 1000 miles at the rate of 1 mile per hour for 1000 consecutive hours to win a wager of 1000 guineas. He served in the Welsh fusiliers before getting involved as a Fancy of the sport headed at the time by the Prince of Wales. The traning routine he put Cribb through certainly paid off as when he met Molineaux for the second time he won convincenly in 11 rounds and Barclay in return made over £10,000 in side bets which is worth well over half a million pounds in todays money.
BELOW IS AN ACCOUNT PRINTED IN "THE TIMES" WHICH REPORTED ON BARCLAYS EPIC CHALLENGE AT NEWMARKET BETWEEN THE 1ST AND 1TH JUNE 1809.
The gentleman on Wednesday completed his arduous pedestrian undertaking, to walk a thousand miles in a thousand successive hours, at the rate of a mile in each and every hour. He had until four o'clock P.M. to finish his task; but he performed his last mile in the quarter of an hour after three, with perfect ease and great spirit, amidst an immense concourse of spectators. The influx of company had so much increased on Sunday, that it was recommended that the ground should be roped in. To this, Captain Barclay at first objected; but the crowd became so great on Monday, and he had experienced so much interruption, that he was at last prevailed upon to allow this precaution to be taken. For the last two days he appeared in higher spirits, and performed his walk with apparently more ease, and in shorter time than he had done for some days before. With the change of the weather, he had thrown off his loose great coat, which he wore during the rainy period, and on Wednesday performed in a flannel jacket. He also put on shoes thicker than any which he had used in the earlier part of his performance. He said that during the first night after his walk he would have himself awaked twice or thrice, to avoid the danger of a too sudden transition from almost constant exertion to a state of long repose.One hundred to one, and indeed any odds whatever, were offered on Wednesday; but so strong was the confidence in his success, that no bets could be obtained. The multitude of people who resorted to the scene of action, in the course of the concluding days, was unprecedented. Not a bed could be procured on Tuesday night at Newmarket, Cambridge, or any of the towns and villages in the vicinity, and every horse and every species of vehicle was engaged. Among the Nobility and Gentry who witnessed the conclusion of this extraordinary feat, were:—The Dukes of Argyle and St. Alban's, Earls Grosvenor, Besborough and Jersey; Lords Foley and Somerville; Sir John Lode, Sir F. Standish, &c. &c.Capt Barclay had a large sum depending upon his undertaking. The aggregate of the bets is supposed to amount to £100,000.—He commenced his feat on the first of June.During the 42 days of this exercise, his average time per mile increased from 14m 54s to 21m 4s, while his weight dropped from 13st 4lb (84.5 kg) to 11st (70 kg). If the report of the total wagers was accurate, they were equivalent to some £5 million ($US 8 million) in modern terms
CONDITIONING HANDS FOR BKB
Today’s modern day gloved boxers don’t have the problems of damage to their hands and wrists as much as a Bareknuckle Boxer does. With BKB becoming more popular many fighters wishing to take the sport up are asking how to avoid and limit potential damage.
Learning how to throw punches correctly and targeting the softer body parts of an opponent are the first things to learn so if you’ve never done BKB before it’s back to basics and learn the differences between punching without the protection of Gloves and read up on the anatomy of the human body as practised in most martial arts. Aim to throw Accurate and meaningful punches and therefore limit the chances of injury to yourself. The chances are when competing in BKB your hands will still suffer even if you use the right techniques and hit the right spots, so then preparing your hands prior to fighting can help.
KNUCKLE PRESS UPS
As with any form of conditioning start of gradually and build the intensity up over a period of time. The idea is to cause callouses on the knuckles which will harden the skin itself, this can be done by performing the press ups on various surfaces ranging from old carpet and working up to concrete and even sandpaper underneath. Secondly this exercise will put stress on the actual bones themselves which can make them denser due to the body’s natural repair system and less prone to damage.
SAND BUCKETS Try punching into buckets of sand with your knuckles extended, again this is to cause hardening of the skin and after a while as your hands become more accustomed to it you can start adding gravel to the sand increasing the coarseness as times goes by.
Start of gradually bare fist and use this method to not only harden the skin but to make sure you deliver punches correctly using your 1st and 2ndknuckles. Lots of combat sports have various methods of hardening the skin and bones in the hands, this can range from punching trees and rocks and using boards wrapped in rope to punch which is similar to Makiwara boards used in Muay tai .Also get accustomed to forming a solid fist as this will stop damage as there will be less movement in the fingers when hitting the target.
There are also lots of fighters who swear by soaking their hands in various concoctions but the most common seems to be Brine solution, some even use petrol, which i wouldn,t condone unless you want to catch dermititis.
Below I’ve put a few links for you to read up on.
Super hard knuckles http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_8540209_make-knuckles-super-hard.html
Bare knuckle punching part 1 of 3
EXPLOSIVE PUNCHING AND AGGRESSIVE DEFENCE BY JACK DEMPSEY
URINE ON YOUR HANDS?
Fighting without the protection of Boxing gloves occurs in every pub carpark each weekend, throughout the country, usually fuelled with alcohol, it goes without saying that one of the main injuries sustained by those involved is damage to their hands. When competing in Bareknuckle Boxing what can and what was done to prevent cuts and lacerations on your only weapon available? Your hands!
There are many articles and books written on the subject of toughening and strengthening the actual internal workings of the hands and wrists of fighter’s and also on which shots landed has the least potential for injury. One subject which often creates ridicule no more so than within gloved boxing community is the suggestion of the use of ointments, potions and treatments applied to the hands prior to competing. For the future generation of Bareknuckle fighters could the answer lie with what some of the great fighters used in the past and is there any truth that it can be of benefit. OR Is it all Mumbo Jumbo? As any building worker will tell you and I can vouch for this myself that after constant hard graft on the buildings or any manual work your hands do toughen naturally. Blisters and tender callouses are only temporary and after a while your hands become like leather. Runners have the same problem with their feet as any beginner runner will tell you so obviously there are ways to toughen the skin that work. Is there anything to speed up this effect up?
Urine, be it human or animal derived has for many years been used to toughen not only Boxer’s hands but other athletes including Baseball players: In a recent interview with ESPN's Gary Miller, Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou revealed that during baseball season he urinates on his hands to toughen them up. Alou, one of the few major leaguers who doesn't wear gloves while batting, is backed up by Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who says, "You don't want to shake my hand during spring training." Even Cubs hurler Kerry Wood mentioned on a local radio show that he's tried the technique to remedy blisters on his pitching hand (though he wryly added that there's also a well-known clubhouse cure for headaches: "crapping in your hat"). Does urine really toughen the skin? Many Doctors and Urine Therapy based Professionals suggest that soaking your hands in urine actually has the opposite affect and has been found to soften the hands. Urea is the main component of urine and considering most hand creams contain urea perhaps the doctor are correct.
Accordingto Dr. A.H. Free, in his 1977 book Urinalysis in Clinical Laboratory Practice, urine contains the following.zinc, vitamins B12, B6, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, inositol, folic acid, biotin, ascorbic acid, potassium, iron, calcium, iodine, manganese, magnesium, nitrogen, lysine, arginine, allantoin, bicarbonate, creatinine, cystine, dopamine, epinephrine, glucose, glutamic acid, glycine, lysine, methionine, orinthine, phenylalanine, phosphorus, tryptophan, tyrosine and water.
So considering all the active ingredients listed without proper research who can dispute what the fighters have used and who am I to question the great advocate of old school boxing Jack Dempsey who did indeed soak his own hands in urine. If it is used then you would need to soak your hands for a minimum of 5 minutes for absorption into the skin.
The following was wrote by the great fighter Bob Fitzsimmons
“Some trainers use a sort of pickling solution with which they pickle the hands, face and neck, in order that a blow will not cut the skin so readily. If my man had a very ten-der skin I might use something to toughen and harden his face, but as a rule I don’t think that pickling the face and neck does any good. To the hands, however, too much attention cannot be paid, and I have found nothing better than corned beef brine. This does not smell very nice, it is true, and should be ap-plied three times a day after eating. I would never allow my man to apply it before eating, as it might affect his stomach, which would be bad. But, although the brine does not smell any where near as good as Florida water, it does the business, and that is all that is required. After the brine is applied and well rubbed in, the following liniment should also be rubbed in. It can be obtained at any first class drug store, and the ingredients are as follows; Laudanum, three ounces ; spirits of hartshorn, four ounces ; alcohol. One quart; iodine, two ounces ; eucalyptic,three ounces. These mixed up together with ten cents worth of horseradish and five cents worth of alum, make a liniment which cannot be equalled for strengthening and hardening the bone, and when applied and well rubbed in it has a tendency to make a man feel fresh and strong. Brine is basically a mixture of vinegar and water and can come in a variety of strengths".
Jack Dempsey also states:
"Put camphor ice on your skinned knuckles before you go to bed. In a few weeks your knuckles will become calloused, and you'll have no more trouble with them"
This is an extract from Billy Edwards' "Art of Boxing and Manual of Training" from 1888:
"If at first they should get a little raw or rubbed, a few applications of weak tannic acid solution, or rosin, or good strong pickle out of the salt-pork barrel, will soon make thehands and knuckles tough. It seems evident that a lot of the Bareknuckle fighters of the past did indeed use a variety of techniques to harden the skin. The Australian army advised their recruits at parachute school to rub in alcohol to harden the skin as well.
A more recent Bareknuckle fighter of the name Paddy Monaghan was also advised to use a brine solution and this advice was given to him from no other than Jack Dempsey. I spoke with Paddy’s son Tyrone who told me this.
“My Da would do the same to me when I was fighting to toughen the skin on my face, it was vinegar in a cup the pour in the salt, Id lie on the floor and with a cotton wool bud he'd put the vinegar and salt or salt and vinegar whichever way ... on the skin around my eyes, cheek bones, the bone on the nose. He'd leave it there to harden and cake, normally about an hour and a half for that to happen. When it was bone dry and the vinegar was soaked into the skin then I'd get up go to the bathroom and rub the salt off but don’t wash it off until the next morning....for BKB my Da used to do the same with his face and with his knuckles.”
Rubbing alcohol into the hands was another way in which some of the past fighters hardened their hands. Jem Mace for instance used a mixture of Gunpowder and whiskey onto his hands and face. (Perhaps this is where he got his explosive punching from). In all seriousness instead of wasting decent Whiskey it’s much cheaper to use surgical spirit and is used by rock climbers and runners. Old bare-knuckle boxers rubbed sheep urine and alum crystals into their hands after punching practice. A better substitute is mentholated spirits. After punching only a fairly rough surface, such as a heavy canvas punching bag, the knuckles will be reddened. Then rub in the spirits and let it dry. It takes about a month of three or four times a week, and your hands get quite tough. The likes of petrol and diesel have also been used in the past. I suppose at the end of the day fighters will choose whether or not to use the methods described above but what I would say is if it worked for some of the past greats then WHY NOT!
BAREKNUCKLE FIGHTING WITHIN THE TRAVELLING COMMUNITY...
IS IT CALLED FAIR PLAY FOR A REASON?
Type the words “Bareknuckle Boxing “into any search engine on your laptop or home computer and 99% of the video clips available will be of Travellers fighting.
At one time having an opportunity to witness these fights was for a select few but with the introduction of YouTube it has allowed anyone to view the fights in the comfort of their home. Even though money regularly changes hands in these fair play fights most are arranged to settle a dispute between feuding clans, and in doing so can actually stop further trouble happening. I’ve watched most that are available online and I can’t see how anyone can call them Brutal and Barbaric. The vast majority of the fights end up in a draw and it’s even encouraged so that both parties involved can walk away without losing face.
I know the fights take place outside of the traditional Boxing ring and to an outsider the fact that they don’t wear glove seems to put them into the same category as people fighting in the street. You have to remember no weapons are used, the fights are kept clean by nominated people who act as referees, it’s all stand up, no low blows etc, and after the fight handshakes are exchanged, wellmost of the time anyway.
So how come Bareknuckle Boxing has such a bad name?
Is it the fact that the fights don’t take place in a ring? Well some of the best Bareknuckle fighters throughout History never fought in a ring. Is it that large amounts of money are often involved in these fights that put people of? Apart from the fact no taxes are paid why should it, Mayweather can earn up to $50,000,000, how many people reading this have earned money and not declared it, so it can’t be this. Is it the bad image of the No Rules underground type fights that takes place? These types of fights won’t ever be seen on YouTube and they make the fair play type fighting look tame in comparison. Large amounts of money are involved, horrific injuries can occur and most of the spectators and organisers are perhaps not the most law abiding members of society. I don’t believe this type of fighting should even be called BKB. Is it simply that the fighters don’t wear gloves? Well I think there’s enough documentation to prove that BKB is one of the safest forms of combat along as it’s organised correctly with a full set of rules and regulations and all safety measures in force for the fighters protection. All of the above reasons may contribute to the fact that the authorities and indeed the public have such a strong negative opinion about BKB, but the real reason is far much simpler.
BLATANT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TRAVELLERS
After many meetings with the police it’s obvious that they try and stop sanctioned bouts going ahead because of their negative attitude towards Travellers even though in reality the majority of fighters wanting to take part are from the settled community. COPYRIGHT M.BLACKETT 2012
When John L Sullivan beat Jake kilrain in 1889 both Sullivan and the man responsible for getting Sullivan into shape, William Muldoon, toured the country together. By this time the pair were hardly on speaking terms and the tour was purely for financial reasons.
The pair were considered the best in their field, with Muldoon being the wrestling champ and Sullivan the Boxing champ. It wasn't long be...fore the animosity grew that much between them that a fight was fixed up between them both.
It's reported that the pair agreed to a mixed style contest and with Muldoon being a decent Boxer and Sullivan being used to using wrestling in some of his bareknuckle bouts many were undecided as who would become victorious.
A newspaper of the time described the match as follows....
"The first fall was taken by Sullivan in only 2 minutes, after the two had traded throws before Sullivan used his great strength to force his opponents shoulders to the ground. The second round was even even more exciting with the two gladiators alternating "in picking one another up and trying to throw him on his back." Eventually, Muldoon managed to drop Sullivan like a log onto his shoulders. It had taken three minutes of work but the match was now even. Sullivan, although visibly tired, rose to his feet smiling at his prospects in the final and deciding fall. "Muldoon went at Sullivan as though he meant business. He grabbed his head and shook it viciously." Sullivan broke the hold and countered by tripping Muldoon onto his side, but was unable to press the advantage. Defending himself ably, the Sold Man forced his way back to his feet and then "grasped Sullivan in his arms, lifted from his feet and threw him with great force upon the broad of his back. The fall seemed heavy enough to shake the earth. The crowd yelled delightedly as Muldoon stood over the fallen gladiator with a look of triumph on his countenance."
Its said that Sullivan was furious and stood back up with his fists raised but after the crowd rushed into the ring and separated them it was over and this was the final nail in the coffin that broke their once friendship.
Ernest Hemingway, 50 years after his death his novels and short stories sell in excess of £1,000,000 a year but his biggest passion was boxing and was a decent amateur and had his fare share of street fights. Below is what i found on The art of Manliness Website.
“My writing is nothing, my boxing is everything.”...-Hemingway in a conversation with Josephine Herbst Hemingway had practiced the sweet science since childhood and at one point was a successful amateur boxer. Following one of his victories in a fishing tournament in Bimini, the locals who had participated became angered at his ability to better fish waters they had fished their entire lives. Seeing an opportunity to combine his passions, he offered the locals a chance to win back their lost money. The terms were simple…go toe to toe with old Papa in the ring for three rounds and win, and the money would be theirs. The first challenger, a man who locals claimed could “carry a piano on his head,” made it only a minute and a half before the 35 year old Hemingway put him on the deck. The next three challengers suffered a similar fate, and Ernest went home with his prize money.
Hemingway’s love for boxing was unmatched by his other passions, and he even had a boxing ring built in the backyard of his Key West home, right next to the pool, so that he could spar with guests. Hemingway often dedicated his time not spent writing in Key West to boxing, even refereeing matches at the local arena.
In one instance, he was presiding over a match where one fighter was being brutalized by the other. Every time the fighter would get knocked down, however, he would rise again to take more of a beating. Weary of seeing his fighter being abused so, the fighter’s manager, “Shine” Forbes, threw in the towel. Imagine his surprise when the ref picked up the towel and threw it out of the ring! Shine tried two more times to concede the match by throwing in the towel, and on the final try the ref threw it back in his face, which sent Shine over the edge. He climbed through the ropes and took a punch at the ref, effectively bringing an end to the match. Later that evening he was informed that the ref he had thrown a punch at was none other than Ernest Hemingway, local legend and internationally famous author. Embarrassed, Shine went to Hemingway’s home to apologize and was greeted by a smiling Hemingway who, not bothered by the punch thrown at him, had Shine and his friends come in for some sparring in his personal ring. Forging a friendship with the man, Hemingway even had Shine and friends spar for his friends’ entertainment at parties, and would pass a hat around afterwards to collect money for the young fighters.
Hemingway’s love of the sport carried over into the literary world as well. He was known for using boxing analogies in interviews, as well as for attempting to teach the poet Ezra Pound to box during his years in Paris. Several of his short stories reflect his love for the sport, including short stories Fifty Grand and The Battler, and the novel The Sun Also Rises.
Hemingway the Storyteller It’s no secret that Hemingway could weave a masterful tale behind a typewriter, a fact that is reinforced by a glowing review of Across the River and into the Trees in the New York Times Book Review that labeled him “the most important author since Shakespeare.” But Hemingway was not just a good storyteller on paper. The tales he spun for friends and family captivated everyone within earshot, and were frequently so grand and full of wild incidents that those who listened were often left questioning whether one man could really have experienced so much in a single lifetime.
Indeed, many of his tales seemed to stretch the truth, often more than a little. And yet, as his close friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner wrote, he so convincingly imparted his adventures that even the most outrageous yarn seemed feasible. He once recounted a tale to Hotchner as they sat down in an old Paris bar Hemingway frequented:“Back in the old days this was one of the few good, solid bars, and there was an ex-pug who used to come in with a pet lion. He’d stand at the bar here and the lion would stand here beside him. He was a very nice lion with good manners – no growls or roars – but, as lions will, he occasionally shit on the floor. This, of course, had a rather adverse effect on the trade and, as politely as he could, Harry asked the ex-pug not to bring the lion around anymore. But the next day the pug was back with the lion, lion dropped another load, drinkers dispersed, Harry again made the request. The third day, same thing. Realizing it was do or die for poor Harry’s business, this time when the lion let go, I went over, picked up the pug, who had been a welterweight, carried him outside and threw him in the street. Then I came back and grabbed the lion’s mane and hustled him out of here. Out on the sidewalk, the lion gave me a look, but he went quietly.” -Papa Hemingway.
GLOVED BOXING ON TRIAL
The argument that arises more often than not when discussing Bareknuckle Boxing is
WHICH IS SAFER, GLOVED BOXING OR BAREKNUCKLES? AND DID IT MATTER?
Evidence by the BMA and indeed many neurologists throughout the world show that Gloved Boxers are much more prone to brain damage than their prizefighter counterparts. The reason is simple and straightforward and you don’t have to have medical knowledge to understand the reasoning behind their findings. It’s all linked with Boxers taking repetitive headshots and with padding on the fighters hands the head was one of the main targets unlike fighters competing in Bareknuckle Boxing.
While gloved fights had taken place in the late 1800’s the last recognised World Championship Bareknuckle fight was in 1892 when Sullivan fought Kilrain. Sullivan then decided that his days as a prizefighter was over and he would defend his title with gloves on which he did unsuccessfully against James J.Corbett.
Even though the Queensbury Rules were formulated in 1867 it wasn’t until 1891 that the National Sporting Club was formed, it was based in Covent Gardens, London and was set up to add credibility to the Noble sport of self-defence and for the well off to watch bouts with timed rounds and none of the crowd trouble which was once associated with Prizefighting. Although the NSC was given permission to stage boxing matches as long as they were scientific exhibitions it was obvious that the fights staged were far from exhibitions and were fought for money and with trained well skilled Boxers.
In 1897 an American fighter called Jimmy Barry came over to England to fight for the world title against the Brit Walter Croot. With less than a minute to go at the end of the planned 20 round fight Croot was caught with a huge punch that felled him, he hit his head on the wooden board of the ring floor and as a consequence died a few days after suffering a broken skull. It attracted adverse publicity on both sides of the water, and to improve the safety padding was installed on the ring floor.
However only four years later in 1901 the club and the sport of Boxing itself was put on trial when another fighter died after an international fight, Murray Livingstone, known as Billy Smith from Philadelphia, fought Jack Roberts from London, for a purse of £100. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened up until the end of the 7th round, both men tripped and Smith hit his head on the middle rope and then on the floor. He came out for the next round but it became obvious that all his energy was gone and something wasn’t right when he sank to his knees and was counted out. Smith was taken unconscious to Charing Cross hospital but sadly died 2 days later. An inquest into his death identified compression to the brain as the cause of death, be it by a fall or a punches taken and the NSC was praised in its duty of care by it having padded flooring instead of the old boards, the verdict reached was Accidental Death.
The police however pursued charges of Manslaughter against the referee and timekeeper as well as the seconds including the legendary commentator Reg Gutteridge’s Grandfather Arthur Gutteridge. The trial took place at Bow Street court and the prosecution stated that the NSC was given permission to stage exhibitions only and the fight in which Smith died was far from it, He told the court that boxing was a Barbaric sport and the 10 second rule encouraged fighters to inflict as much damage to each other as possible. The defence stated that more deaths arise from football than boxing and nothing happened in the fight which was not within the rules.The jury couldn’t decide so a retrial was ordered.The Barrister defending the members of the NSC told the court that he was a fan of boxing and the sport encourages great heart and pride in Englishmen and after the Judge said that smith didn’t die as a result of a punch and he’d much rather people used their fists than knives and it took the jury only 2 minutes to find the defendants not guilty. The outcome obviously paved the way for boxing as a legitimate sport….even though the issue of safety is questioned constantly.
BUT IT COULD HAVE ENDED SO DIFFERENT FOR GLOVED BOXING .COPYRIGHT M.BLACKETT 2012
The Images to the left are that of Donnybrook Fair in Dublin, Ireland. The black n white one depicts one of the many brawls using sticks, Cudgels and anything at hand during this yearly August event since its inception by Royal C...harter in 1204 by King John. For 2 weeks every year it played host to a variety of entertainment including magicians, singers and music and horse trading, drinking and of course fighting. As night drew near the fair would be filled with a mixture of shady characters that gathered there such as prostitutes, drunks and many of the sideshow owners trying to entice the passers-by and draw their attention to their stalls.
Due to public demand, because of all the rowdiness and unrest, the fair was abolished in 1855, but in 1819 it played host to one of Ireland’s first Bareknuckle boxing stars, Dan Donnelly. Dan’s fame as a fighter around this time was at an all time high, it was only a month since he beat the Englishman Tom Oliver over 34 rounds at Crawley Downs in Sussex in July and of course his fame was huge in his homeland after he beat Tom Hall and then George Cooper at The Curragh, Kildare, at the hollow no renamed Donnelly’s Hollow in his honour. Although Dan had a Boxing Booth set up at Donnybrook fair that year in 1819 he preferred the drink and the women to displaying his skills as a fighter to the paying guests. Dan was meant to show the public and his fans himself giving sparring exhibitions in his tent in a ten foot ring, for the admission fee but during the 2 weeks at the fair he was barely seen. Fortunately his friends and fighters themselves George Cooper and Bob Gregson would often have to stand in for him but what should have been a profitable time for him barely earned them anything. It’s interesting that the term “Donnybrook” is a term still used today and according to dictionaries it can mean anything from a brawl, free for all, and a public quarrel and dispute.See more
The term Battle Royal sounds like a regal and dignified term and yet it is far removed from any such notion.What originated as a form of entertainment to please the wealthy and titled Romans, the Battle Royal involved multiple gladiators competing against one another in a free for all with the winner being the last man standing.
It was described as a brutal affair and during the rule of the Roman Empire for it to be described as brutal meant something extreme to say the least.. Calls and pleas were made for these spectacles to be abolished but it wasn’t until the demise of the mighty empire that it actually did disappear.Lessons were obviously not learnt and this cruel form of entertainment resurfaced firstly in England in the 18th century and then in the USA in the 19th century after the Civil war. Described as athletic shows the fighting was anything but and it was more so a form of pleasure for the white people to watch blacks beat up each other to a pulp as white fighters seldom participated.
During these racist times ruled by the whites in the southern states many of the contestants who took part in these Battle Royals would include fighters who would also achieve international fame in later years. Jack Johnson was one such fighter and to make it even more degrading for those taking part they would often be blindfolded or have one arm tied behind their backs and put into a ring to fight. Johnson was just a teenager in Texas at this time and he often was the last man standing in these bareknuckle bouts. No amount of ring savvy or skill determined the winner in most cases, especially these extreme versions.
Other notable fighters who were able to walk away from these contests and fight on a proper boxing stage were world champions Joe Gans and Beau Jack. Jack himself found a sponsor after winning a Battle Royal and this enabled him to pursue his career as a Pro Boxer.Gambling went hand in hand in these contests and fellow boxers would eventually try and stage these events as they realised the potential money they could make. Frank Craig “The Harlem Coffee Cooler” came to the UK at the beginning of the 20th century and persuaded Bella Burge, wife of boxer Dick Burge, of the Blackfriars ring in London’s East End to have such a show at her venue. Craig enlisted a dozen large men to compete in this free for all and brought in a ringer from the USA who had a vast experience of these Battle Royals. The fighter in question simply evaded the haymakers swung at him and parried the punches until the other men were exhausted, he then knocked out all the fighters who were still standing and winning Craig a small fortune in bets which were laid on.
Below is a video clip which shows the racism and attitdes not onlky by the commentator but also by the all whotes in the crowd.