PUGILISM (from Lat. pugil, boxer, Gr. irv, with clenched fist), the practice or sport of fighting with the fists. The first mention of such fighting in literature is found in the 2jrd book of the Iliad, and shows that in Homer's time the art was already highly developed. The occasion was the games at the funeral of Patroclus, the champions engaged being Epeus, the builder of the wooden horse, and Euryalus. Each combatant seems to have been naked except for a belt, and to have worn the cestus. The fight ends with the defeat of Euryalus. According to Virgil (Aeneid, v.) similar games took place within the walls of Troy at the funeral of Hector, the principal boxers being Dares, the winner, and the gigantic Butex, a pupil of Amycus, Paris, the Trojan champion, abstaining from the contests. Further on we find the account of the games on the occasion of the funeral of Anchises, in the course of which Dares, the Trojan, receiving no answer to his challenge from the Sicilians, who stood aghast at his mighty proportions, claims the prize; but, just as it is about to be awarded him, Entellus, an aged but huge and sinewy Sicilian, arises and casts into the arena as a sign of his acceptance of the combat the massive cesti, all stained with blood and brains, which he has inherited from King Eryx, his master in the art of boxing. The Trojans are now appalled in their turn, and Dares, aghast at the fearful implements, refused the battle, which, however, is at length begun after Aeneas has furnished the heroes with equally matched cesti. For some time the young and lusty Dares circles about his gigantic but old and stiff opponent, upon whom he rains a torrent of blows which are avoided by the clever guarding and dodging of the Sicilian hero. At last Entellus, having got his opponent into a favourable position, raises his tremendous right hand on high and aims a terrible blow at the Trojan's head; but the wary Dares deftly steps aside, and Entellus, missing his adversary altogether, falls headlong by the impetus of his own blow, with a crash like that of a falling pine. Shouts of mingled exultation and dismay break from the multitude, and the friends of the aged Sicilian rush forward to raise their fallen champion and bear him from the arena; but, greatly to the astonishment of all, Entellus motions them away and returns to the fight more keenly than before. The old man's blood is stirred, and he attacks his youthful enemy with such furious and headlong rushes, buffeting him grievously with both hands, that Aeneas puts an end to the battle, though barely in time to save the discomfited Trojan from being beaten into insensibility.
Although fist-fighting was supposed by the Greeks of the classic period to have been a feature of the mythological games at Olympia, it was not actually introduced into the historical Olympic contests until the 23rd Olympiad after the re- establishment of the famous games by Iphitus (about 880 B.C.). Onomastos was the first Olympic victor. In heroic times the boxers are supposed to have worn the fci^a, or belt, but in the Greek games the contestants, except for the cestus, fought entirely naked, since the custom had been introduced in the i sth Olympiad, and was copied by the contestants at the Pythian, Nemean, Isthmian and Panathenaic games (see GAMES, CLASSICAL). At Olympia the boxers were rubbed with oil to make them supple and limit the flow of perspiration, a precaution the more necessary as the Olympic games were held during the hottest part of the year. The cesti, of which there were several varieties, were bound on the boxers' hands and wrists by attendants or teachers acting as seconds. On account cf the weight of the gloves worn, the style of boxing differed from that now in vogue (see BOXING), the modern straight-from- theshoulder blow having been little used. Both Homer and Virgil speak of " falling blows," and this was the common method of attack, consisting more in swinging and hammering than in punching. The statue of a Greek boxer in the Louvre shows the right foot forward, the left hand raised as if to ward off a blow from above, and the right hand held opposite the breast, the whole attitude more resembling that of a warrior with sword and shield than of a modern boxer. The pugilists of Rome, who were in many cases Greeks and employed Greek methods, exaggerated the brutality of the fist-fight to please the Roman taste, and the sanguinary contest between Dares and Entellus, described above, although in some respects an anachronism as an account of a pugilistic battle in primitive times, was doubtless an exact portrayal of the encounters to be seen in Virgil's day in the circuses of Rome. Nevertheless it must not be understood that the boxing matches at the Greek games were not themselves severe to the point of brutality, in spite of the fact that style and grace of movement were sedulously taught by the masters of the time. The Greek champions trained for months before the games, but encounters between athletes armed with such terrible weapons as the loaded cestus were bound to result in very serious bruises and even disfigurement. Pluck was as highly thought of as at the present day, and it was related of a certain Eurydamas that, when his teeth were battered in, he swallowed them rather than show that he was hurt, whereupon his antagonist, in despair at seeing his most furious blows devoid of effect, gave up the battle. As, on account of the swinging style of blows, the ears were particularly liable to injury ear-protectors (a/i0<ori6s) were generally used in practice, though not in serious combats. The socalled " pancratist's ear," swollen and mis-shapen, was a characteristic feature of the Greek boxer. The satirists of the time flung their grim jests at the champion bruisers. Lucilius writing of a Greek boxer of Etruria (Anthologia epigrammatum graecoruni), says, " Aulos, the pugilist, consecrates to the God of Pisa all the bones of his cranium, gathering up one by one. Let him but return alive from the Nemean Games, O mighty Jupiter, and he will also offer thee, without doubt, the vertebrae of his neck, which is all he has left ! " The rules of Greek boxing were strict. No wrestling, grappling, kicking nor biting were allowed, and the contest ended when one combatant owned himself beaten. On this account pugilism and the pancratium (see below) were forbidden by Lycurgus, lest the Spartans should become accustomed to an acknowledgment of defeat (Plutarch, Lycurgus). In spite of the terrible injuries which often resulted from these contests it was strictly forbidden to kill an adversary, on pain of losing the prize. Rhodes, Aegina, Arcadia and Elis produced most of the Olympic victors in boxing, which was considered as an excellent training for war. According to Lucan (Anach. 3) Solon recommended it for pedagogic purposes, and the contest with the sphairai, or studded cesti, was added by Plato to his list of warlike exercises as being the nearest approach to actual battle.
The Greek athletic contest called pancratium (ira.fKpa.Tiov, complete, or all-round, contest), which was introduced into the Olympic games in the 38th Olympiad, was a combination of boxing and wrestling in which the contestants, who fought naked, not wearing even the cestus, were allowed to employ any means except biting to wring from each other the 'acknowledgment of defeat. Boxing, wrestling, kicking, dislocation of joints, breaking of bones, pulling of hair and strangling were freely indulged in. The fight began with sparring for openings and was continued on the ground when the contestants fell. Many pancratists excelled in obtaining quick holds of their opponents' fingers, which they crushed and dislocated so completely that all effective opposition ceased. Sudden attacks resulting in the dislocation of an arm or leg were also taught, reminding one of the Japanese jiu-jitsu. The pancratium was considered by the Greeks the greatest of all athletic contests and, needless to say, only the most powerful athletes attempted it. It became popular in Rome during the Empire and remained so until the time of Justinian.
Diagoras of Rhodes, his three sons and many grandsons, who were sung by Pindar (Olymp. 7), were the most celebrated of the Olympic boxing champions. One of the sons, Dorieus, was three times victorious -at Olympia in the pancratium, and during his career won eight Olympian, eight Isthmian, seven Nemean and one of the Pythian prizes. Many famous champions also came from the Greek colonies, like the Locrian Euthymus, who conquered three times at Olympia. Another celebrated fighter and wrestler was Milo of Crotona (520 B.C.).
Boxing was evidently in vogue in very ancient times in Italy, imported, in all probability, from Greece, for Livy (i. 35) relates that, at the first celebration of the great Roman games (ludi, romani magnique varie appellali) by Tarquinius Priscus (6th century B.C.), boxers were brought from outlying provinces; and there was an old tradition that a school of pugilism flourished in Etruria in heroic times. During the republic boxing was cultivated as a gentlemanly exercise, and we find Cato the Elder giving his son instruction in the art (Plutarch, Cato Major). Tacitus (Ann. xvi. 3) says that the emperor Caligula imported the best Campanian and African pugilists for the gladiatorial games, and Strabo (iii. 3) records that the Lusitanians and also the Indians, who gave virgins as prizes, boxed. The art remained popular in Italy down to a late period of the Empire.
From the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the 1pth century pugilism seems to have been unknown among civilized nations with the single exception of the English.
The first references to boxing in England as a regular sport occur towards the end of the i;th century, but little mention is made of it before the time of George I., when " prize-fighters " engaged in public encounters for money, with the backsword, falchion, foil, quarter-staff and single-stick, and, to a less extent, with bare fists, the last gradually gaining in popularity with the decline of fencing. The most celebrated of these fighters and the one who is generally considered to have been the first champion of England, fighting with the bare fists, was James Figg, who was supreme from 1719 to 1730. Figg was succeeded by Pipes and Gretting, both of whom made way in 1734 for Jack Broughton, who built the amphitheatre for public displays near Tottenham Court Road and who was undisputed champion until 1750. Broughton seems to have been a man of intelligence, and to him is ascribed the scientific development of the art of boxing. During his time the sport became truly national and the prize-fighter the companion of the greatest in the land. Among Broughton's successors were Slack, " Big Ben " Brain, Daniel Mendoza (a Jew who flourished about 1790 and was the proprietor of the Lyceum in the Strand), J. Jackson, Tom Cribb, Jem Belcher, Pearce (called the " Game Chicken"), and John Gully, who afterwards represented Pontefract in Parliament.
To Broughton is ascribed the invention of boxing-gloves for use in practice. All prize-fights, however, took place with bare knuckles in roped-off spaces called rings, usually in the open air. Pugilists toughened their hands by " pickling " them in a powerful astringent solution. A fight ended when one of the " bruisers," as they were called, was unable to " come to the scratch," i.e. the middle of the ring, at the call cf the referee at the beginning of a new round. Each round ended when one fighter fell or was knocked or thrown to the ground, but a pugilist " going down to avoid punishment," i.e. without being struck by the opponent, was liable to forfeit the fight. \\ rustling played an important rdle in the old prize-ring, and a favourite method of weakening an adversary was to throw him heavily and then fall upon him, seemingly by accident, as the manoeuvre, if done intentionally, was foul. The fighting was of the roughest description, low tricks of all kinds being practised when the referee's attention was diverted, gouging out an adversary's eye being by no means unknown. Until 1795 pugilists wore long hair, but during a fight in that year Jai-kson caught Mendoza by his long locks and held him down helpless while he hit him. This was adjudged fair by the referee, with the result that prize-fighters have ever since cropped their head. Nevertheless there were rules which no fighter dared to overstep, such as those against kicking, hitting below the lifit, and striking a man when he had fallen.
From the time of Cribb the English champions were Tom Spring (1824), Jem Ward (1825), Jem Burke (1833), W. Thompson, called "Bendigo" (1830-1845), Ben Gaunt (1841), W. Perry, the "Tipton Slasher" (1850), Harry Broome (1851), Tom rs (1857-1860), Jem Mace (1861-1863), Tom King (1863), and again Mace, until 1872.
In America boxing began to be popular about the beginning of the 19th century. The first recognized national champion was Tom Hyer (1841-1848), who was followed by James Ambrose (born in Ireland), called " Yankee Sullivan "; John Morrissey (afterwards elected to the United States Congress); John C. Heenan; Tom Allen (of England); Jem Mace (of England); J. Kilrain; John L. Sullivan (1880-1891); J. J. Corbett (1892- 1897); Robert Fitzsimmons (1897-1900) (born in Cornwall); James J. Jeffries. The defeat of the last named by the negro Jack Johnson in 1910 caused a great sensation.
What is still the most celebrated prize-fight of modern times took place at Farnborough in April 1860, between Tom Sayers and the huge youthful American pugilist J. C. Heenan, the " Benicia Boy," who had been defeated in America by Morrissey, but had succeeded to the championship upon the latter's retirement. The English champion was a much smaller and lighter man than his challenger, a fact which increased the popular interest in the fight. Although the local English authorities endeavoured to prevent it taking place, Heenan complaining that he had " been chased out of eight counties," the ring at Farnborough was surrounded by a company containing representatives of the highest classes, and the exaggerated statement was made that '' Parliament had been emptied to patronize a prize-fight." The battle lasted for 2 hours and 20 minutes, during which Heenan, owing to his superiority in weight and reach, seemed to have the advantage, although nearly blinded by Sayers's hard straight punches. During one of the opening rounds a tendon in Sayers's right forearm was ruptured in guarding, and he fought the rest of the battle with a pluck which roused the enthusiasm of the spectators. Heenan had neglected to harden his hands properly, with the result that they soon swelled to unnatural proportions, rendering his blows no more effective than if he had worn boxing-gloves. Nevertheless towards the close of the fight Heenan repeatedly threw Sayers violently, and held him on the ropes enclosing the ring, which, just as the police interfered, were cut by persons who asserted that Heenan was on the point of strangling Sayers. In spite of the indecisive outcome of the battle both fighters claimed the victory, but the match was officially adjudged a draw. This was the last great prize-fight with bare fists on English soil, as public opinion was aroused, and orders were given to the police thenceforth to regard prizefights as illegal, as tending to a " breach of the peace." Several surreptitious prize-fights did indeed occur within a few years after the Sayers-Heenan battle; but more than once, notably in the fight between Heenan and Tcm King, one of the participants was " doctored," i.e. drugged, and this lack of fairplay, added to the brutality of fist-fights, gave the death-blow to pugilism of the old kind. In its place came fighting and boxing with padded gloves, small ones weighing about 4 oz. being used by professionals, while amateurs, who boxed and sparred rather than fought (see BOXING), made use of larger and softer gloves.
An added impetus was given to boxing as well as pugilism in 1866 by the founding of the " Amateur Athletic Club " by John C. Chambers, who, assisted by the marquessof Queensberry, drew up the code of rules for competitions still in vogue and called after that nobleman, who, in 1867, presented cups for the amateur championships at the different weights. These rules prohibit all rough and unfair fighting, as well as wrestling, and divide a match into rounds of three (or two) minutes each, with half a minute rest between the rounds. It is a matterof agreement in professional battles whether in " breaking away " after a clinch blows may be struck or not. When a contestant is knocked down (a man on one knee is technically down) he is allowed ten seconds, usually counted aloud by the referee, in which to rise and renew the fight. Should he be unable to do so he is " counted out " and loses the match.
See Fisliana (London, 1868); American Fistiana (New York, 1876); Egan, Boxia.no. (London, 1818-1824); Fencing, Boxing and Wrestling, in the Badminton Library (London, 1889); R. G. A. Winn, Boxing, Isthmian Library (London, 1897).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)