On this day in history : 16th August 1742 – Champion bare-knuckle fighter John ‘Jack’ Broughton formulates the first prize-ring code of boxing rules….

Jack Broughton – W.THOMAS.SCFRANK HAYMAN, R.A. Henry Downes Miles ( 1806-1889) – Public domain

Broughton, born around 1704 was the son of a farmer from Baunton, Gloucestershire…. At the age of 12 he went to work at the quayside in Bristol – and would often fight with the local lads…. Before long he came to the attention of James Figg, England’s first bare-knuckle champion – having claimed the title in 1719; the concept of current-day boxing originally came from him….

James Figg – John Faber Jr after John Ellys – Public domain

Figg owned an amphitheatre in London – and it was here that he trained Broughton to bare-knuckle fight…. Once Broughton had become successful he opened an amphitheatre of his own, near to Oxford Street; it became the largest and most influential establishment of its kind in the country….

At the time ‘rules’ varied from contest to contest, Broughton decided some regulation was needed…. He devised a set of rules; among them – that a round would last until one man went down – and that there should be a 30 second interval between rounds…. His rules eventually evolved into the London Prize-Ring Rules – promulgated in 1838 and revised in 1853…. They outlawed head butting, kicking, biting, scratching, gauging, hitting a man whilst he was down, using hard objects in the hands and holding the ropes….

Broughton’s rules – Jack Broughton, public domain

The London Prize Rules were replaced by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules during the 1860s; however most of the earlier measures still remain in effect today, having laid the foundation to modern-day boxing….

As for Broughton, in 1750 he fought Jack Slack – and within 14 minutes of the contest starting had received a punch that rendered him temporarily blinded – and he had to retire from the fight….His patron of the time, the Duke of Cumberland, is said to have lost thousands on the match…. Broughton closed his amphitheatre very soon afterwards and ran an antiques business instead…. He died on the 8th of January 1789….

‘The Bruiser Bruisd; Or the Knowing Ones Taken-in’ – A boxing match between John Broughton and Jack Slack – Public domain

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