A Bout with Gloves.

Journal of Manly Arts
June 2003

by Professor A. Austin

Originally published in Outing magazine, February, 1891, No. 17, p. 447-452.

Whenever such men have come to the front boxing has suffered in public estimation. These tricks, such as getting down without a blow, provoking the opponent to a foul blow, or claiming a verdict on account of an imaginary one, would be of no use in a fight out of the ring, in street or house, and as an exercise they are worse than useless. They do not improve one's bearing, and are utterly opposed to every principle of chivalry and manliness. The true principles of boxing are artistically correct attitudes, free, easy and graceful movements, and prompt and rapid hitting and counter hitting.

At any time during the past hundred years it would be possible to find a man who was successful and yet had a style of his own-a style greatly differing from the one universally accepted at the time as good form; perhaps a marvelous dexterity in one certain feature attained by constant practice, or merely a style or methods which are the natural outcome of the man's build or disposition. Thus Bendigo stood with right hand and foot advanced, and in consequence quite a number of boxers adopted his style. Again, Tom Sayers had to dance about a great deal, for his battles were often between strength on the one side and activity on the other. Soon after it was noticed that a number of amateurs danced all kinds of grotesque steps while boxing.

One of Dempsey's characteristics is a round in-handed hit with the left. It is remarkable how many boxers have abandoned the clean straight left hander for a round half slap. "The Marine" is said to have been successful in landing a backhanded right hander while pirouetting and so knocked his man out. Since then this hit has been largely practiced. Features like these may have their uses. There is nothing new under the sun. Swinging was practiced and abandoned more than a hundred years ago, while boxing as an art was still in its infancy. Bendigo would have made a better boxer if he had used the same style as his contemporaries. Sayers only danced about from force of unusual circumstances. Preponderance of weight, strength and determination, coupled with lack of skill and activity in his opponents, alone render Sullivan's tactics effective. The skill and judgment which in Dempsey land a curved hit would effect better results in a straight one. The cat's one trick was better than the fox's ninety-nine, and a vigilant, active straight hitter will generally be successful against any man who relies on his knowledge of boxing tricks. The question of the superiority of straight in and out movements over semicircular ones was settled definitely before the commencement of the present century, and it will require very complete demonstration to shake my faith in the established theories and principles of force and speed.

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June 2003