Journal of Manly Arts
June 2005

by Professor A. Austen

Originally published in Outing magazine, 1891 p140-143

Nothing material has been invented, but everything has been improved, step by step in principle, from the awkward postures and constrained movements of the lettered plates to the easy and graceful attitudes and action of the numbered.

This deportment should be the grammar of boxing, and its application should inspire all efforts either official or personal. It constitutes form or style in boxing and should supersede the absurd, more or less vicious, indefinite, swinging, swiping efforts of the average amateur, who flounders about without aim or system, and he should be forced to follow it by stringent regulations. I suggest going back to the principle of the school of boxing from which the marquis drew up his rules. A common-sense interpretation of the rule, "style in boxing is essential," and this together with an intelligent and firm application of it by our executive authorities, would, I am satisfied, remedy many of the objections I have alluded to and be the means of placing the art of boxing in the foremost place it is entitled to in the estimation of every grade of society.

An outlined definition of the phrase should be given and some such explanation of an addition to the rules in vogue would, I believe, have the desired effect. Style in boxing being essential, no contestant will be adjudged the winner unless his attitudes and actions are good, or show promise of becoming so, and his hitting straight. His quality as a boxer will then be gauged by--

1. Aggressive efforts, commonly called leading off, i.e., landing well, judged clean and definite blows, with the left hand, on the face or body.

2. Resistive efforts, countering or cross countering, i.e., striking an adversary while he is in the act of attacking, "leading." Unsuccessful attempts to do so with the left hand will be considered mistakes of smaller importance than with the right.

3. Evasive efforts, i.e., parrying, ducking, slipping, stepping or springing out of distance or to the right or left. Continuing to do either without making more active resistance or attacking will be considered lack of ability.

4. Return hits, i. e., striking an adversary immediately after evading his attack.

5. Any of the following will justify disqualification or be considered bad form in accordance with the manner in which it may be done, the circumstances, etc. Striking with the palm or unpadded part of the hand, returning a blow when it is due to your adversary's consideration that you were able to do so. Striking without aim or judgment, whether the blow land or not. Striking at your adversary while he is in an in defensive position, not on guard, or any other unmanly or unchivalrous act, including placing one's self in an indefensive position to avoid being hit.

6. Where the style and points are equal the man whose boxing and general deportment are the most fair and manly will be adjudged the winner.

If the spirit of these suggestions were rigidly enforced by really competent officials I believe the tough so-called amateur would soon learn that the honor and reward of victory were as much due to the means as the end and govern himself accordingly. Certain amateur athletic clubs which foster boxing might also awake to a sense of their duty, which is to encourage its practice and the acquirement of proficiency among themselves, instead of paying directly or indirectly track members, amateurs, etc., to slug for their amusement.

* Professional phrases for designating peculiar ways of boxing.

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June 2005