Pugilisim’s First Heroes

JAMES FIGG
“It was not until the early part of the eighteenth century that boxing became popular as a sport in the British Isles. Though the start of fist fighting in England coincided with the arrival of the Romans, boxing as we know it really got under way with the acknowledgement of James Figg as first British heavyweight king in 1719. Through the pages of ring history, the story of the heavyweights is the story of boxing itself.

When James Figg announced the opening of his Amphitheatre, his name became the first on the long roll of British prize ring champions, and because he was the first to advertise openly the teaching of boxing and exhibitions of skill, he has become known as the father of boxing. He was more expert as a cudgeller than as a pugilist. A master with the sword and an expert fencer, he attracted the patronage of the English “bloods,” the sports element of the country.

It was Figg who popularized sparring exhibitions, and his initiative was responsible for the opening of many other amphitheatres. In these, wooden rails instead of ropes formed the ring enclosure, which was elevated upon a stage, the referee officiating outside the ring. Figg died in 1734.” [1]

JACK BROUGHTON
“In 1741, Jack Broughton beat George Stevenson. Stevenson was so battered in the 35 minute contest that a few days later he died. The tragedy upset Broughton and in an effort to ensure that it would not happen again, he called some of his patrons of his academy and drew up a set of rules. [2]

Broughton’s Rules governed boxing from August 16, 1743, until 1838, when a new code, ‘The London Prize Ring Rules,’ was adopted.”

“Broughton also invented, or rediscovered, the boxing glove. It has been suggested that seeing a statue of a Greek boxer wearing the cestus gave him the idea of the padded glove. Broughton’s padded gloves were lightweight “mufflers” and used only in sparring - matches were still bare-knuckle. They were really to prevent damage to his aristocratic patrons. [3]

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[1] Andre, Sam and Fleischer, Nat, Pictorial History of Boxing, Pugilism’s First Heroes, 1985 Edition, pg 11

[2] Andre, Sam and Fleischer, Nat, Pictorial History of Boxing, Pugilism’s First Heroes, 1985 Edition, pg 12

[3] Andre, Sam and Fleischer, Nat, Pictorial History of Boxing, Pugilism’s First Heroes, 1985 Edition, pg 12

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