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.

The constant practice of boxing invariably gives a man correct attitude, firmness with freedom of motion, and good form generally. I never knew of a man having acquired a good style abandoning it for a bad one, but instances are numerous enough of bad styles being abandoned for a good one. Jack Burke, who boxed with Mitchell several times, as well as with Sullivan, Dempsey, etc., in the early part of his career boxed in the worst possible form; now his style is of the very best.

The longer beginners confine themselves in practice to the first principles of the art the more accomplished boxers they are likely to become. Loose practice, on account of its being so much easier to do a thing badly than well, has a tendency to develop a slovenly and ungraceful style in a beginner and to make him lose sight of the true principles of the art. Remember, boxing as a gentlemanly exercise is not a prize fight, and therefore your object is not to knock your man out. Form is everything. The way of doing a thing is of more importance than the thing itself. It is not what you do, but how you do it. In Rome under the empire, when the art attained a high degree of perfection, the most skillful and graceful boxer, not the most successful;- gained the plaudits of the crowd and the highest rewards.

Many important features of boxing were published in Outing for March last, which there will be no need to repeat. Of course practice without a master can never be as good in its results as with one. First satisfy yourself that your instructor is a capable man, and once having done so never question his authority. If gentlemen wish to practice among themselves there is no reason why they should not become proficient by so doing, especially if they can occasionally see two good men box. They should assume the rôle of instructor in turn and give their pupil (pro tem) opportunities for practicing the various hits, counter hits, guards, etc., which take the beginner from any one to any other extreme.

Judging from the numerous inquiries I have received from readers of the Outing of last March, and the never-omitted inquiry of beginners, "Why stand left foot and arm advanced?" a few remarks on that question may not be uninteresting to the uninitiated.

Boxing is the development and perfection of all fair means of attack and defense of the unarmed man against an unarmed antagonist.

If a man stands with his feet close together he has neither spring for attack nor brace for resistance; for either purpose he must stride. If he takes too long a stride he gains strength at the expense of activity; if too short, activity at the expense of strength. Consequently good boxers take one of moderate length as being the best combination of the two qualities, inclining to either as the circumstance may require.

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June 2003