Collecting Boxing Memorabilia
The Greeks originally introduced an ancient form of boxing into their Olympic games around 688 BC, although the sport only began to thrive years later in Roman times. Boxers in those days, or to be more accurate pugilists did not have access to gloves, headgear and other protective equipment as today's boxers do, the hand covering worn in those days consisted of leather hand straps later to be replaced with the boxing glove.
Boxing only began to become accepted in England in the 18th century when wagering on what was known as a working man’s sport was rife throughout the land.
In the 1800th-century prizefighting was prevalent there were no written rules, formal ring, weight divisions, timed round structure, or referee, this version of the sport was both a dangerous and uncontrolled activity where deaths sometimes occurred and it was not unusual for riots to break out.
As a result of a bout where he had killed his opponent in 1741 Jack Broughton introduced a more formalised structure which in1743 became known as the “Broughton's rules”. Mufflers were used for the first time these were supposed to provide some respite for the competing pugilists.
In 1788 the Prince of Wales was recorded as being present at a bout held at Smitham Bottom, Croydon, between William Futrell and gentleman John Jackson
So far I have been unable to find any authentic boxing memorabilia from this era.
London Pride ring rules were introduced in 1838 these were based on those drafted by Jack Broughton nearly a hundred years previously.
In 1865 the eighth Marquees of Queensbury John Sholto Douglas who is regarded as the patron saint of boxing drew up a new set of rules which became the sport as we know it today, some of the most significant changes included three-minute rounds, ring structure, no shoes or boots with springs and the regulated use of approved boxing gloves which must be fair sized, best quality and new.
The first world heavyweight champion under the Queensberry rules was Gentleman Jim Corbett, who defeated John L. Sullivan in New Orleans in 1892.
In 1904 boxing was included in the St Louis Olympic games this created a tremendous surge of worldwide interest in the sport.
The National Boxing association became the first authoritative organisation to govern over the sport in 1927. Fighters were ranked and matches programmed between champions and the most deserving challengers.
There are currently three recognised sanctioning bodies the WBC, IBF and WBA who are the only organisations whose boxing titles are formally recognised throughout the world.
Today boxing is divided into two divisions amateur and professional the former which is found mainly in schools, the forces, universities and the Olympics. The latter which is televised worldwide and still attracts a healthy interest from the many enthusiasts eager to wager on the outcome.
Collecting Boxing memorabilia is a fast growing hobby/business with sale houses such as Bonham’s in London and Knights Sporting Auctions in Norwich holding sales on a regular basis.
Sports memorabilia collectors are always interested in posters, programmes, prints, photographs, magazines, gloves and attire, many which are signed by boxing legends are highly sought after. Examples of collectable boxers are shown below.
Jake La Motta, Joe Frazier, Joe Louis, Gene Tunney, Georges Carpentier, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson , Muhammad Ali. George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Sir Henry Cooper , Ricky Hatton, Roberto Duran to name but a few of the iconic heroes.
I hope this brief article gives you an introduction into the pleasure of collecting and enjoying boxing collectibles.
Written by: Selby