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Boxing: Bareknuckle Boxing in America

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posted on May, 2 2003 @ 01:04 PM
I've read that before boxing was legalized, fights were staged on barges in the harbor. One fight I recall lasted 106 rounds, without gloves! There was no round limit or 3 knockdown rule, fighters fought until was either knocked out or couldn't continue (TKO). Below is some intersting historical facts about that period:

While fighting of various kinds was common on the American frontier, boxing was uncommon. The first two American boxers, both blacks, made their names in England.

The first was Bill Richmond of Staten Island, who became a servant of Lord Percy, the general who commanded the British forces occupying New York during the Revolution. In a number of matches against British soldiers, Richmond was unbeaten and Percy took him to England in 1777.

Known as the "Black Terror," Richmond knocked out his first English opponent in just 25 seconds. Not much is known of his career from then until 1805, when the 41-year-old Richmond was knocked out by British champion Tom Cribb. Richmond continued fighting occasionally until he was 52 and he never lost again.

Tom Molineaux (or Molyneaux) was a slave on a Virginia plantation who may have won his freedom because of his fighting skill. He went to England in 1809 and won two bouts before losing to Cribb in 1810. In a savage rematch a year later, Molineaux suffered a broken jaw in the 10th round and was knocked out in the 11th.

Richmond and Molineaux were little noted in their native country, however. The first known bout in the U. S. in which Jack Broughton's rules were more or less followed was a match between Jacob Hyer and Tom Beasley in 1816. Hyer won and claimed the American championship.

Nothing came of that, and Hyer never fought again. But his son, Tom, beat "Country McCloskey" (George McChester) in a widely-publicized fight on September 9, 1841, and was accepted as the American heavyweight champion.

Boxing had been banned in most English cities and towns by the middle of the 19th
century, so a number of English fighters came to America, seeking competition.

The best of them was Yankee Sullivan, who opened a saloon in New York in 1841 and defeated most of the best American fighters over the next several years.

Tom Hyer, billed as "the Great American Hope," came to the rescue. His $20,000 match against Sullivan in Rock Point, Maryland, on February 7, 1849, drew widespread interest. When Hyer won in 16 rounds, the news was wired to New York newspapers. It was the first sports story sent over the telegraph.

As boxing gained popularity, it also attracted opposition. A number of states banned prize fighting and others enforced existing bans that had been ignored. For decades, major fights took place in semi-secrecy, often near state lines so that participants and spectators could escape across the border if law officers showed up.

America's first genuine championship fight took place May 30, 1880, at Collier Station, West Virginia, near the Pennsylvania and Ohio borders. Joe Goss, widely considered the English champion, faced challenger Paddy Ryan, a native of Ireland. They fought for nearly an hour and a half before Ryan knocked out Goss in the 87th round.

Ryan was challenged almost almost immediately by John L. Sullivan of Boston, but he managed to avoid Sullivan until February 7, 1882. Their fight was originally scheduled for New Orleans, but was moved at the last minute to Mississippi City, Mississippi, because Louisiana authorities threatened action.

Sullivan won on a 9th-round knockout that took less than 11 minutes. He spent the next five years making money off the championship without putting it at risk,
touring the country and fighting exhibitions, for the most part. His 6-round victory over Dominick McCaffrey in 1885 went almost unnoticed, but it gave Sullivan his second title, as world heavyweight champion under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

Meanwhile, Jake Kilrain was being pushed as a contender by Richard Kyle Fox, publisher of the National Police Gazette. Early in 1887, Fox declared that Kilrain was the real champion and presented him with a diamond-studded championship belt.

Sullivan's supporters immediately raised the money to buy an even more impressive belt for their champion. Sullivan's first real title defense took place in Chantilly, France, on March 10, 1888. The challenger was England's Charley Mitchell, who weighed only about 160 pounds to Sullivan's 210. But the champion barely escaped with a draw, raising doubts about his ability and his physical condition.

In 1889, Sullivan finally accepted Kilrain's challenge. For the first time, newspapers carried extensive pre-fight coverage, reporting on the fighters' training and speculating on where the bout would take place. The center of activity was New
Orleans, but the governor of Louisiana had forbidden the fight.

On July 7, an estimated 3,000 spectators boarded special trains for the secret location, which turned out to be Richburg, Mississippi. The fight began at 10:30 the
following morning, and it looked as if Sullivan was going to lose, especially after he threw up during the 44th round.

But the champion got his second wind after that and Kilrain's manager finally threw in the towel after the 75th round. Sullivan's victory made him a true national hero.

Again, he focused on making as much money as possible outside of the ring. He spent all of 1890 touring in a stage production, Honest Hearts and Willing Hands, then went to Australia to fight a series of exhibitions.

When he returned to America late in 1891, he offered to fight any challenger under the Marquis of Queensberry rules for a purse of $25,000 and side bets of $10,000. James J. "Gentleman Jim" Corbett accepted the offer.

Information Source

posted on May, 6 2003 @ 12:13 PM
Tom Sayers, who was one of the most accomplished exponents of the noble art fought Harry Paulson over 109 rounds in the mid 1800's. The fight only ended when Paulson's corner decided to throw in the sponge due to a bad cut over the eye. It amazes me that anyone could last so long, their stamina levels must have been of the chart.


posted on May, 6 2003 @ 06:01 PM
These bareknuckle boxers are one tough cookies. How would you even prepare for one of these fights? I remember from the movie snatch they had a couple of these fights they look like it hurts.

posted on May, 6 2003 @ 09:51 PM

posted on May, 9 2003 @ 11:57 AM
It's a different game altogether.
The punishment to the hands and face is severe, it takes years to toughen the skin. Most of the bareknuckle fighters tend to be heavy hitters as well and it's a real hard contest. Not for the faint hearted!

posted on May, 9 2003 @ 02:30 PM
i would pay good money to see one of those fights in person


posted on May, 9 2003 @ 02:46 PM
I don't know so much about now but they used to have them in a barn on a farm local to where i was brought up..I went a couple of times and it wasn't pretty..They smashed the crap out of each other...

Also they had unlicensed boxing this was held in a club,sometimes it was funny local tough guys putting thier sons up against each other in the ring..They couldn't fight for toffee but it was fun to watch.Not all the fights were like that it was usually hard men (or they thought they was ) from all the local areas going up against each other with some nice side Bets on the go....
I still have a video of one of these nights and watch it every now and then and have a good chuckle.

posted on May, 9 2003 @ 04:59 PM
I've seen a couple of good bareknuckle fights!! Although not for competition. Basically my friends got drunk and picked fights in bars. LOL!

posted on May, 11 2003 @ 01:12 AM
They must have been some grueling, nasty fights. I've seen some good ones, been in a few, but 109 rounds, wow.

posted on May, 12 2003 @ 06:40 AM
There are alot of unlicensed bouts where I live, real knuckle and skull action. They fight mostly out of farms, but there are alot of clubs that stage the events. You have to get an invite as it's not exactly 'legal' but I've enjoyed the ones of been to.

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