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Bare Knuckle Boxing which is sometimes referred to as Prizefighting or Fisticuffs, is a sport where two people get in the ring and fight without boxing gloves or any other type of body protection or anything else on their hands. A Bare Knuckle Boxing match is somewhat different than a street fight however. The big difference is there are still rules whereas in a Street Fight anything goes. One of the rules is that you can’t strike an opponent when he is down.
James Figg was the first champion in England. In 1719 he won the title and kept it until he retired in 1730. The longest Bare Knuckle Boxing fight we know of lasted for 6hrs. and 15min. betweek Jack Smith and James Kelly which took place in Melbourne, Australia in 1856. Jem Mace fought longer than any other Prizefighter ever. His fights lasted over a span of 35 years until he was in his Sixties. However he was 78 years old when he had his last official fight which was in 1909.
Jack Broughton was a famous Bare Knuckle Boxer that was from England. He adopted his own set of rules that were to be used for future contests. He created 7 rules that were later known as London Prize Ring Rules. He earned a great reputation when he fought as a semi pro in the 1730’s. There weren’t many recorded records of his fights, however, there was also no evidence that he lost any matches either. Jack and Captain Godfrey both claimed Jack was still undefeated after he retired.
There is a lot of credibility to these statements since Captain Godfrey was deep in the game and had his pulse on what was going on with Prizefighting during that era. Jack Broughton’s fights always attracted huge crowds. He became the champion of England after beating George Taylor. He opened up his own personal Amphitheatre in 1743 with some money he got from Prizefighting along with some wealthy investors who also helped finance this endeavor. Jack Slack was a norwich butcher who had made some remarks against Jack that he didn’t like.
This caused Jack to come out of retirement to enter a match with him. The entire crowd favored Broughton over Slack, despite the fact that Broughton was a lot older than he was. Jack started out on the winning beat, but toward the end of the fight suffered a terrible loss. He was nailed right between the eyes by Slack, and couldn’t see clearly. This was his first and only loss we know of.
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