Mr. Broughton’s Seven Boxing Rules of 1743

When boxing was in its infancy boxing rules were loosely defined and varied from fight to fight. The winner was usually determined to be either the boxer who hit the hardest or submitted to the greatest punishment. A English bare-knuckle boxer by the name of John “Jack” Broughton with help from a number of wealthy patrons opened his own amphitheatre in Hanway Road, near Oxford Street. He and his team then began staging boxing exhibitions with the first fight stage on 13 March 1743 for an entrance fee of a shilling or less.

John “Jack” Broughton, Courtesy of Wikipedia

On 16 August 1743, Broughton formulated and printed seven boxing rules that he framed at his amphitheatre. These seven boxing rules became known as “Mr. Broughton’s Rules” and are provided below:

  1. That a square of a yard be chalked in the middle of the stage; and every fresh set-to after a fall, or being parted from the rails, each second is to bring his man to the square and place him opposite to the other; and till they are fairly set-to at the lines, it shall not be lawful for one to strike the other.
  2. That in order to prevent any disputes as to the time a man lies after a fall, if the second does not bring his man to the side of the square within the space of half a minute he shall be deemed a beaten man.
  3. That, in every main battle, no person whatever shall be upon the stage, except the principals and their seconds; the same rule to be observed in the bye-battles, except that in the latter Mr. Broughton is allowed to be upon the stage to keep decorum, and to assist gentlemen in getting to their places; provided always he does not interfere in the battle; and whoever presumes to infringe these rules to be turned immediately out of the house. Everybody is to quit the stage as soon as the champions are stripped, before they set-to.
  4. That no champion be deemed beaten, unless he falls coming up to the line in the limited time; or that his own second declares him beaten. No second is to be allowed to ask his man’s adversary any questions or advise him to give out.
  5. That in the bye-battles, the winning man to have two-thirds of the money given, which shall be publicly divided upon the stage, notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.
  6. That to prevent disputes, in every main battle, the principals shall, on the coming on the stage, choose from among the gentlemen present two umpires, who shall absolutely decided all disputes that may arise about the battle; and if the two umpires cannot agree, the said umpires to choose a third, who is to determine it.
  7. That no person is to hit his adversary when he is down, or seize him by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist; a man on his knees to be reckoned down.[1]
Boxing Gloves, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Boxing gloves. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Broughton’s seven boxing rules were regarded as definitive for about 100 years and they served as “statutes of the Ring until 1838.”[2] At that time, his rules were superseded by new rules, called the “London Prize Ring Rules” that first underwent modifications in 1843, the same year that Madame Tussaud established her Chamber of Horrors. More changes to Broughton’s boxing rules happened in 1853 and 1864. The London Prize Ring Rules also “introduced measures that remain in effect for professional boxing to this day, such as outlawing butting, gouging, scratching, kicking, hitting a man while down, holding the ropes, and using resin, stones or hard objects in the hands, and biting.”[3]

References:

  • [1] Fox, Richard Kyle, Boxing, 1889, p. 46-47.
  • [2] Sayers, Thomas, Tom Sayers, Sometime Champion of England, His Life and Pugilistic Career, 1866, p. 135.
  • [3] Rodriguez, Robert G., The Regulation of Boxing, 2009, p. 26.

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