Professional Gamblers and Organised Criminality
While the bare-knuckled fights were of importance to the British, the results were not quite as important in America. The Americans took no notice to these boxing bouts. Boxing in the USA, during the 19th century, could be placed in two categories. 1. There was prize fighting. Boxers fought for money in bare knuckled contested bouts. Both categories of boxing was to the attraction of professional gamblers and consolidated organised criminality that found their way into the boxing circles, that caused the sport to fall foul of local authorities laws There was the sparring sessions. The combatants wore gloves during sparring sessions endeavouring to display the mastery of pugilistic science, and did not provide the winner with a purse or try to inflict bodily harm. Sparring was considered a genuine sport and exhibitions were given on stage and in private gymnasiums. On the 13th September 1842 in Hastings, New York went on record noting that more than two thousand men witnessed a prize fight between Christopher Lilly and Thomas McCoy.
The First Boxing Fatality Recorded in History
After fighting a gruelling match for two hours and forty one minutes, Thomas McCoy collapsed in the 77th round of the fight in an abnormal state and died instantly. At coroner's inquest it was determined that fluid from boxing wounds had drained into the fighters lungs and the cause of death was from drowning. That was the very first fatality recorded in
an American ring which brought forth an immediate legal response from the governing authorities. The mayor of New York City authorised payments to get any persons that was responsible. Bounty hunters took up the search, and the grand jury was able to prosecute eighteen people on charges from rioting to manslaughter. On the 17th of April 1860 in Hampshire, United Kingdom: The six foot one inch 182 lb American, John C. Heenan, fought the five foot eight inch 154 lb English champion Thomas Sayers. During the fight in the 6th round, Tom Sayers fractured his right arm from a blow by his eight year younger opponent.
Law Enforcement Created Boxing Centres
But the fight went on for two hours with Tom Sayer fighting with his fractured arm until two police constables tried to stop the fight in the 36th round but it was in vain as a majority of the ring side audiences were forced into the boxing ring. Both fighters fought for five more rounds before it was finally declared a draw. Both fighters received Championship belts that were specially made for both fighters. America only became more interested in boxing during the mid 19th century even though boxing was outlawed. But in places like St. Louis, New Orleans, and other cities in the western terrain became the boxing centres in America due to an enforcement of laws against prize fighting in the eastern cities. 1866 in England: The Marquis of Queensberry, a prominent figure in British sporting circles, laid down a set of rules known as The Marquees of Queensberry Rules for glove fighting. Fighters will wear gloves no wrestling three minute rounds one minute rest period ten seconds to recover from a knockdown. Although today these rules are followed by a large number of countries, they were not quickly accepted. The change from bare knuckle boxing was more or less, a very slow process.
John L. Sullivan Never Fought a Black Fighter.
Boxing in America didn't really get started until after the Civil War. At that time there was no great fighters, few honest people in boxing, and most fights were controlled by hoodlums. Boxing in America was saved by the Marquis of Queensberry rules. John L. Sullivan, the "The Boston Strong Boy," was born in 1858. He became America's first great sports hero. He was a fighter who only wanted to fight, anyone, anywhere, with bare fists, skin tight or padded gloves, under any rules. "I will fight any man breathing he said." But that was not exactly a straightforward statement he made. In fact that statement was a barefaced confounded lie, because he detested blacks and would not fight any black fighter.