1902 Encyclopedia > Wrestling and Boxing

Wrestling and Boxing

WRESTLING AND BOXING. Wrestling is the art of forcing an antagonist to the ground without resorting to blows or kicks. It is a trial of strength and skill between two opponents standing face to face, who strive to throw one another. As a gymnastic exercise it was greatly encouraged among the ancient Greeks, and the highest honours and rewards were bestowed on the victors at the Olympic, Isthmian, Nemean, and other games (see GAMES). It was also cultivated by the Romans, though their tastes inclined to more savage and brutalizing exhibitions than that of wrestling. It was not unknown in Egypt and at Nineveh, as may be seen from the sculptures in the British Museum. At the same time it differed very much in its ancient form from the wrestling of to-day, the wrestlers of old being wont to compete almost if not quite nude, their bodies besmeared with oil or some other kind of grease by way of making their muscles supple; but, as this practice rendered it very difficult to get fair hold of one another, the wrestlers were accustomed to use sand on their hands, or even to roll in the dust of the arena as a corrective. In their contests they took hold of each other by the arms, drew forward, pushed backward, used many con-tortions of the body, interlocked their limbs, seized one another by the neck, throttled, lifted each other off the ground, and butted like rams, though the chief point of their art was to become master of their opponent's legs, when a fall was the immediate result. In England the pastime has been popular from an early period, more especially in the Middle Ages, for in 1222, in Henry III.'a reign, it is on record that a wrestling match took place between the men of Westminster and the citizens of London in St Giles Fields, the latter winning easily. The return match was held at Westminster on Lammas day following, but was interrupted by the bailiff of West-minster and his associates, who maltreated the Londoners and drove them into the city. At a later period Clerken-well was the usual trysting place. At one of the matches there in 1453 another riot occurred, and the lord mayor.

For further information the reader should consult the Parentalia, published by Wren's grandson in 1750, an account of tho Wren family and especially of Sir Christopher and his works ; also the two biographies of Wren by Elmes and Miss Phillimore; Milman, Annals of St Paul's, 1868 ; and Longman, Three Cathedrals dedicated to St Paul in London, 1873, pp. 77 sq. See also Clayton, Churches of Sir C. Wren, 1848-49 ; Taylor, Towers and Steeples of Wren, London, 1881; and Niven, City Churches, London, 1887,
illustrated with fine etchings. In the library of All Souls at Oxford
are preserved a large number of drawings by Wren, including the
designs for almost all his chief works, and a fine series showing his
various schemes for St Paul's Cathedral. (J. H^M.)
who usually attended these athletic carnivals, was again routed and driven within the city boundary. In those days the prize was sometimes a ram and sometimes a cock.
The four English systems of wrestling include those of (1) Cornwall and Devon, (2) Lancashire, (3) Catch hold, first down to lose, and (4) Cumberland and Westmorland. The Cornwall and Devon men compete in strong loose linen jackets, catching hold above the waist or of any portion of the jacket. Kicking, which used to be a pro-minent feature of the west-country style, is now forbidden, and the men wrestle in their stockinged feet. In order to be fairly thrown, two shoulders and one hip must be on the ground, or two hips and one shoulder, and a man must be thrown flat on his back before any other portion of his body touches the earth ere a decision can be given against him. Formerly each county wrestled under different rules, but the systems are now amalgamated and are classed as one and the same, In Lancashire the wrestlers compete in their stockinged feet, but are allowed to catch hold of any portion of the body. This is the most barbarous of all the English systems, and includes the objectionable battling on the ground which is the fatal characteristic of the French method. Tripping, however, is not forbidden, and a fall is sometimes secured without a resort to scrambling tactics, which is impossible under French rules. The " catch hold, first down to lose " stylo of wrestling is of recent origin and promises to become popular. The utmost simplicity distinguishes it. Ordi-nary wrestling attire is worn, such as jersey, drawers or knickerbockers, and stockings. The men on closing must not grip lower than the waist, and the competitor who touches the ground first by any part of his body is the loser. This system is perhaps the fairest for all parties, as the competitors set to work on equal terms without that delay in getting into holds so frequent in north-country wrestling. The Cumberland and Westmorland system is probably the best and most scientific of all. On taking hold, the wrestlers stand up chest to chest, each placing his chin on his opponent's right shoulder and grasping him round the body, the right arm of each being under the left arm of the other, and each joins his hands behind his opponent. When both have got hold the play commences. Kicking is forbidden, and if one competitor lets go his hold before the other the decision is given against him. If both fall on the ground—an undecided or dogfall, as it is termed—they wrestle over again, but if one falls before the other his defeat is registered at once. This kind of wrestling is free from danger, and the German style much resembles it, but in the latter a competitor's hands are not required to remain locked behind his adver-sary's back, as is the practice in the north of England. No catching hold of legs, thighs, or arms is allowed, but each man tries to throw his adversary by using the " buttock," which consists of facing to the right, twisting so as to place the left hip under an opponent's middle, pulling him close, stooping forwards and lifting him off the ground, and throwing him; or the " crossbuttock," facing to the right about to such an extent as to turn the back to the adversary, and then proceeding as before; or the "back-hank," which consists in commencing as in the " buttock," and then passing the left leg from inside round an antagonist's left leg, when by keeping a tight hold with the arms and pulling backwards the leverage supplied by the leg being inside usually secures the fall; or the " back heel," which consists in pulling an opponent towards one, putting the left heel behind his right heel, forcing his leg up forwards, and throwing him bodily backwards; or the " left leg hipe," which consists in lifting and swinging him round to the right, then striking the inside of his right thigh with the outside of the left thigh, by which he

gets off his balance and falls; the " right leg hipe " is the same action mutatis mutandis. There is also the " left leg stroke," which consists in striking an antagonist's right leg with one's left leg, swinging him round to the left and off his balance; the " right leg stroke" is the same thing with the right leg. Of course there is an umpire to see that no competitor takes an unfair advantage or plays foul, and to determine disputed points according to the rules in force.
BOXING.—This, though perhaps hardly as popular as wrestling, is closely identified with it in the gymnasium, if not outside it. In the United Kingdom prize fighting is an illegal sport, but it is hardly likely that glove boxing will ever fall into the same disrepute. Its present comparative popularity is principally due to the efforts of the late Mr John G. Chambers, who in 1866 founded the Amateur Athletic Club, and in conjunction with the marquis of Queensberry drew up a code of rules (known as the Queensberry rules), which regulate the principal glove con-tests throughout the kingdom, as follows :—
Challenge Cups (Open to Gentlemen Amateurs).—1. That the entries be drawn to contend by lots. 2. That the entrance fee bo 10s. 3. Heavy weights to be over 11 stone 4 lb ; middle weights not to exceed 11 stone 4 lb ; light weights not to exceed 10 stone. 4. That there be three judges appointed by the committee. 5. That the boxing take place in a 24 feet ring. 6. That no wrest-ling, roughing, or hugging on the ropes be allowed. 7. That each heat consist of three rounds, with one minute interval between; the duration of each round to be at the discretion of the judges, but not to exceed five minutes. 8. Any competitor not coming up to time shall be deemed to have lost. 9. That no shoes or boots with spikes or spriggs be allowed. 10. Competitors to wear jerseys. 11. Gloves to be provided by the club. 12. The cups to be boxed for once in each year; the winner to receive a silver medal.
Definition of Gentleman Amateur.—Any gentleman who has never competed in an open competition, or for public money, or for admission money, or with professionals for a prize, public money, or admission money, and who has never at any period of his life taught, pursued, or assisted in the pursuit of athletic exercises as a means of livelihood. The committee reserve the right of requiring a reference or of refusing an entry.

Contests for Endurance.—To be a fair stand-up boxing match, in a 24 feet ring, or as near that size as practicable ; no wrestling or hugging allowed ; the rounds to be of three minutes' duration and one minute time ; if either man fall through weakness or otherwise he must get up unassisted; ten seconds to be allowed him to do so ; the other man meanwhile to retire to his corner, and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed and continued until the three minutes have expired, and, if one man fails to come to the scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favour of the other man ; a man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down; no seconds or any other person to be allowed in the ring during the rounds; should the contest be stopped by any unavoidable interference, the referee to name time and place for finishing the contest as soon as possible, so that the match must be won or lost, unless the backers of both men agree to draw the stakes. The gloves to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality, and new ; should a glove burst or come off, it must be replaced to the referee's satisfaction. A man on one knee is considered down, and if struck is entitled to the stakes. No shoes or boots with spriggs allowed. (E. D. B.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries