Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/654

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PUGILISM


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 § 'cT.>;ra, or belt, but in the Greek games the contestants, except for the cestus, fought entirely naked, since the custom had been introduced in the 15th 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 of the weight of the gloves worn, the style of boxing differed from that now in vogue (see BOXING), the modern straight-from-the shoulder 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 (&, u.¢>wri5es) 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 graecorum), 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 1”

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 (1ra'y/<p6.»rLov, 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 pcmcratium 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 Iustinian.

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. 3 5) relates that, at the first celebration of the great Roman games (ludi, romani magnique 'uarie appellate) 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 M ajar). 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. A

From the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the 19th 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 17th 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 back sword, 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 hghters and the one who is generally considered to have been the first champion of England, fighting with the bare fists, was ]arnes Figg, who was supreme from 1719 to 173O. Figg was succeeded by Pipes and Gretting, both of whom made way in 1734 for ]ack Broughton, who built the amphitheatre for public disa plays 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 ]ew who flourished about 1790 and was the proprietor of the Lyceum in the Strand), ]. 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 f