It's a miracle that Jack Broughton survived to the ripe old age of 85. Fighting in the brutal bare-knuckle style from the 1720s-1740s, Broughton competed at a time when "rules" were typically made up on the spot at any given bout, and were often just short of no holds barred. Considered the 3rd heavyweight boxing champ in English history and to some "the father of English boxing", Broughton came to own an amphitheater in London. When he opened his venue in 1743, he drew up a set of rules that governed boxing for a period of 95 years, after which they were replaced by the London Prize Ring Rules of 1838, which in turn were revised in 1853 and eventually gave way to the Marquis of Queensbury Rules in 1867.
Here we have an example of Broughton's ground setting 1743 Rules. Measuring 15x20, this ancient parchment broadside is adorned at top with a series of five boxing illustrations. It's interesting to note that all of the combatants in these scenes are wearing boxing gloves, of which Broughton was a proponent, having created the first padded "mufflers" for use during training. The rules are numbered I through VII in Roman Numerals and include some fascinating language. Historical accounts suggest that Broughton's Rules were put in place more to keep order and settle disputes, rather than for the safety of the fighters, as the gambling action was heavy and the gamblers were often influential persons. More than 250 years old, this very scarce broadside suffers surface loss around the perimeter, which is reinforced on the reverse with tape along most of the edge area. Despite these conditions, the illustrations and text remain mostly intact and this fantastic historic document radiates period authentic appeal.
Broughton's Rules read as follows:
I. That a square of a yard be chalked in the middle of the stage, and on every fresh set-to after a fall, or being parted form the rails, each Second is to bring his Man to the side of the square, and place him opposite to the other, and till they are fairly set-to at the Lines, it shall not be lawful for one to strike at the other.
II. That, in order to prevent any Disputes, the time a Man lies after a fall, if the Second does not bring his Man to the side of the square, within the space of half a minute, he shall be deemed a beaten Man.
III. That in every main Battle, no person whatever shall be upon the Stage, except the Principals and their Seconds, the same rule to be observed in bye-battles, except that in the latter, Mr. Broughton is allowed to be upon the Stage to keep decorum, and to assist Gentlemen in getting to their places, provided always he does not interfere in the Battle; and whoever pretends to infringe these Rules to be turned immediately out of the house. Everybody is to quit the Stage as soon as the Champions are stripped, before the set-to.
IV. That no Champion be deemed beaten, unless he fails coming up to the line in the limited time, or that his own Second declares him beaten. No Second is to be allowed to ask his man’s Adversary any questions, or advise him to give out.
V. That in bye-battles, the winning man to have two-thirds of the Money given, which shall be publicly divided upon the Stage, notwithstanding any private agreements to the contrary.
VI. That to prevent Disputes, in every main Battle the Principals shall, on coming on the Stage, choose from among the gentlemen present two Umpires, who shall absolutely decide all Disputes that may arise about the Battle; and if the two Umpires cannot agree, the said Umpires to choose a third, who is to determine it.
VII. That no person is to hit his Adversary when he is down, or seize him by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist: a man on his knees to be reckoned down.