State Library of South Australia
Manning Index of South Australian History
  • South Australia
  • Adelaide
  • Port Adelaide
  • Place Names

  • About the Index
  • Searching
  • Text-based menus
    (Use this option if your browser will not open the folders.)

    South Australia - Sport


    Boxing and Wrestling

    An Essay on Boxing and Wrestling

    (Taken from an unpublished manuscript by Geoffrey H. Manning, From Tribal Land to Township - A History of Thebarton)

    By 1845 the public "houses of entertainment of the Port Road [were] literally crammed with the knowing ones from ""rosy morn till dewy eye"" " heralding a colonial interest in prize-fighting and one which, according to a newspaper editor, should only be reported upon in a like manner to duels, robberies and murders, he being convinced that publicity, in a right-minded community, was always the best corrective for such atrocities.

    He suggested that a taste for prize fighting had long been the reproach of the populace of England and feared that it fondly lingered "amongst the degraded and polluted sections of the lower classes in the mother country" and hoped and prayed that the industrious and thriving labourers of South Australia would, one and all, "set their faces in flint against this horrible, this debasing vice.

    In December 1845 a Thebarton chairmaker, Charley Barnett "stood up" against Johnny White "at the back of Hindmarsh", the stakes being 20 a side - "Charley stood up admirably, but strength of arm and science were said to be too much for the chairmaker who was compelled, how ever reluctantly, to give in."

    To escape opprobrium in Adelaide boxing matches were conducted on Yorke Peninsula and, in 1863, the steamer Young Australian was chartered to convey contestants and fans across Saint Vincent Gulf to Surveyor's Point where they landed to witness a bout described as "undecided"; however, on the trip home two intoxicated would-be "pugs" had a set-to on the deck. A return match for the two professionals took place a few weeks later at the foothills where they belaboured one another until one of them "felt or feigned an indisposition" to continue the contest.

    Apparently unaware of the past history of Thebarton in the realm of pugilism, an interesting three-cornered "contest" between the Corporation, a boxing promoter and venue owner occurred in 1894 as indicated in the following newspaper report:

    Mrs Coveney then refused permission for the use of the hall but the concerned citizens feared that other owners of prospective venues might be less scrupulous and, accordingly, asked the Corporation to formulate a by-law outlawing such events.

    Councillors were unanimous in their support of the request and Councillor Boland said he would be sorry to see "anything of the kind obtain a footing in Thebarton, as he was sure that a lowering of the tone of the town would result' and moved a motion to ban such contests within the town which was carried without dissent.

    To Thebarton goes the honour of being the venue for the first wrestling match in South Australia for in January 1848 an event took place on the Thebarton Racecourse when a reporter proclaimed that:

    General Notes

    Reports on "pugilism" are in the Register,
    22 November 1845, page 2e,
    31 December 1845 and a wrestling match on the racecourse on 8 January 1848, page 4e;
    also see Observer,
    22 November 1845, page 5a and 3 January 1846, page 6b..

    Prize-fighting at the Flagstaff Inn "on the Sturt" is reported upon in theSouth Australian,
    18 January 1848, page 2f;
    also see Observer, 22 January 1848, page 2c,
    24 February 1849, page 2c.

    "Brutalizing amusements called prizefights" at Kooringa are described in the Register,
    18 August 1849, page 3d.

    The Register of 29 June 1850, page 3b reports
    "a pugilistic encounter in Gawler Town which, to the disgrace of the inhabitants, was allowed to continue for a considerable time."

    "Grand Wrestling Matches" is in the Register,
    22 and 26 April 1851, pages 2e and 3c,
    "North Adelaide Wrestling" on 13 June 1851, page 2d;
    also see 16 July 1851, page 2d and Adelaide Times,
    23 April 1851, page 3d.

    A prize fight in the parklands is reported in the Observer,
    7 June 1856, page 4h (supp.);
    also see 18 April 1857, page 4h.

    "Pugilists and the Iron Knuckles" is in the Chronicle,
    3 November 1860, page 4g.

    "The Prize Fight" at Surveyor's Point on Yorke Peninsula is reported in the Observer,
    3 October 1863, page 5a;
    also see 10 October 1863, page 4h,
    14 November 1863, page 4g.

    A prize fight near the Waterloo Inn is reported in the Register,
    23 September 1863, page 2d,
    Observer, 26 September 1863, page 1h (supp.).

    "Prize-Fighting" is in the Register,
    22 June 1874, page 6f.

    A sketch of the capture of prize-fighters at the Reedbeds is in Frearson's Weekly,
    25 February 1882, page 41.

    "Death from Wrestling" is in the Advertiser,
    27 November 1876, page 5f.

    A boxing contest is reported in the Express,
    21 March 1879, page 2c,
    Observer, 9 April 1887, page 18c.

    A "prize fight" in the Botanic Garden is reported in the Chronicle,
    2 July 1881, page 11d.

    A case of manslaughter arising out of a prize fight is reported in the Advertiser,
    9 March 1882, page 4d.

    "The Wrestling Match on the Oval" is in the Chronicle,
    2 January 1886, page 7b.

    Boxing and Indian club swinging is reported upon in the Express,
    1 June 1886, page 4c;
    also see 2 August 1886, page 4c.

    A poem titled "The Bruiser" is inThe Lantern,
    8 October 1887, page 19.

    Boxing at Green's Athletic Hall is reported in the Observer,
    14 April 1888, page 19b, 19 May 1888, page 18c,
    1 December 1888, page 19d, 1 February 1890, page 18e,
    20 September 1890, page 19e,
    31 January 1888, page 3b,
    at Roachock's Athletic Hall on 12 and 15 May 1888, pages 3g and 4d;
    also see 18 September 1888, page 4c,
    11 and 18 December 1888, pages 4c and 4a,
    2 February 1889, page 4d,
    16 April 1889, page 4b,
    1 July 1889, page 2e, 29 October 1889, page 4c,
    14 and 27 January 1890, pages 4c and 4a,
    1 and 24 July 1890, pages 3f and 4b,
    18 and 19 August 1890, pages 3e and 4a,
    21 August 1890, page 4a,
    3 and 7 October 1890, pages 4a and 4a.

    A wrestling match at the Theatre Royal is reported in the Observer,
    12 April 1890, page 20e.

    An editorial on "the most degrading and brutalising of all British sports" is in the Advertiser,
    9 February 1888, page 4g;
    also see 21 August 1890, page 7d.

    The "manly art" is discussed in the Register,
    5, 6, 11, 13, 20 and 30 May 1892, pages 3g, 6e, 7c, 7e, 3e and 3e,
    2 June 1892, page 4g:

    An editorial on prize fighting is in the Advertiser, 10 April 1897, page 4h:

    "The Fight at Lockleys" is in the Express,
    2 October 1894, page 2f.

    "Lord Wolseley on the Noble Art" is in the Advertiser,
    2 February 1898, page 4g.

    "Boxing as an Athletic Education" is in the Register,
    18 February 1899, page 4g,
    25 February 1899, page 33a.

    "A Little Boxing [at the Town Hall]" is in the Register,
    12 October 1899, page 4g.

    Boxing matches "at the Cyclorama" are reported in the Observer,
    16 November 1901, page 19d, 4 January 1902, page 19e.
    "Pugilism at the Lyceum" is in the Register,
    8 June 1903, page 7i.

    "A Boxing Entertainment" is in the Advertiser,
    29 June 1903, page 6d.

    A Boxing Men's Social, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Frank Charlton's Boxing School, is reported in the Register,
    13 April 1908, page 9b.

    "Boxing Exhibitions [at City Baths] Prohibited" is in the Register,
    11 August 1908, page 5b.

    "Prize Fighting - The Case For" is in The Herald,
    2 January 1909, page 6a.

    Wrestling matches are reported in the Express,
    11 June 1908, page 3f,
    10 August 1908, page 3e,
    30 July 1908, page 6g (at city baths);
    a photograph of wrestling at the Jubilee Oval is in theChronicle,
    15 January 1910, page 31;
    also see 7 August 1930, page 38.

    "Rough on the Referee" is in the Register,
    10 January 1910, page 4f,
    "Prize Fighting" on 14 May 1910, page 12d,
    "The Prize Fight" on 4 July 1910, page 6c,
    29 September 1927, page 6d.

    Ju-Jitsu wrestling is reported in the Advertiser,
    20 January 1910, page 5h,
    15 August 1910, page 13b.

    Boxing at the Amateur Athletic Club is reported in the Advertiser,
    12 May 1910, page 9h,
    "A Lawful Sport" on 18 May 1910, page 10g.

    Boxing at the Flinders Street stadium is reported in theRegister,
    2 May 1910, page 7g,
    at the National Arena on 12 October 1911, page 3f.

    "Prize Fighting" is in the Register,
    14 May 1910, page 12d;
    also see 18 and 23 May 1910, pages 5c and 5i.

    A call to ban the showing a film of the Johnson - Jefferies fight is discussed in the Register,
    13, 14, 15 and 18 July 1910, pages 7b, 5c-6c, 8f and 3e:

    "Fight Pictures" is in the Register,
    26 October 1910, page 8f
    Also see Moving Pictures

    "For and Against Boxing" is in the Register,
    24 December 1910, page 12g.

    "A Local Amazon - At the Fight in Boy's Clothes" is in the Register,
    4 March 1911, page 13a.
    Also see Register, 4 April 1911, page 8d,
    11 April 1911, page 4i,
    27 December 1912, page 3h,
    7 January 1913, page 8g,
    23 August 1913, page 13h,
    The Mail,
    23 August 1913, page 23f,
    6 September 1913, page 13f,
    5 April 1919, page 8d,
    17 September 1919, page 9f (boxing at Town Hall),
    21, 25 and 29 September 1928, pages 11f, 23e and 21 b.

    "Pugilism as a Prehistoric Survival" is in the Advertiser,
    2 January 1911, "
    The Noble Art" on 20 June 1914, page 18e.

    "After the Fight - Fisticuffs in King William Street" is in the Register,
    26 March 1912, page 6c.

    An obituary of George Cox, teacher of boxing, is in the Observer,
    27 April 1912, page 41b.

    "Boxing at the Exhibition" is in the Register,
    13 January 1913, page 7h.

    "Boxing in Adelaide" is in the Register,
    23 August 1913, page 13h,
    "Pugilism" on 9 September 1913, page 7d.

    The resumption of boxing in Adelaide is reported in the Observer,
    20 March 1915, page 22d.

    Wrestling at the Exhibition Building is reported in the Observer,
    5 June 1915, page 24e.

    "Boxing Revival" is in the Register,
    14 January 1919, page 6g.

    "Pugilism" at the Central Picture Theatre is reported in the Register,
    20 May 1920, page 9c,
    at the Austral Gardens on 13 June 1921, page 5g.

    The opening of a new "arena" in Waymouth Street is reported in the Register,
    25 and 26 July 1921, pages 5d and 6g.

    "Stadium Sensation - Collapse of Wooden Seating" is in the Register,
    31 January 1922, page 5c,
    Observer, 4 February 1922, page 29a.

    "Unley's New Stadium" is in the Register,
    26 April 1922, page 9e.

    "Women Pugilists" is in The Mail,
    29 September 1923, page 3f,
    The News,
    30 October 1923, page 1b,
    "Women Boxers" in the Advertiser,
    31 October 1923, page 12f,
    1 and 3 November 1923, pages 13d and 18d,
    "Women in the Ring" in the Register,
    3 November 1923, page 8f.

    "Prize Fighting and The Cinema", by Rev John Blacket, is in the Register,
    8 July 1924, page 8h,
    3 September 1924, page 13h.
    An opinion of "prize fighting" by Rev John Blacket is in theRegister,
    6 September 1924, page 8f,
    21 September 1927, page 12d;
    also see Advertiser,
    16 and 26 August 1924, pages 18d and 10f,
    3 and 8 September 1924, pages 6d and 17a.

    An obituary of Henry E. Hutton is in the Observer,
    1 May 1926, page 22b.

    "Man Against Kangaroo - Spectacular Boxing Bouts" is inThe Mail,
    12 March 1927, page 1b.

    "A Gross Exhibition" is in the Advertiser,
    5 July 1927, page 12f,
    "The Ring and Booking" in the Register,
    21 July 1927, page 8b.

    "Frantic Wrestling - Police Enter the Ring" is in the Register,
    30 September 1927, page 14c.

    "Wrestling" is discussed in the Register,
    29 October 1927, page 8d.

    "Women and Wrestling" is in The Mail,
    14 July 1928, page 14f,
    "Trickery in Wrestling" on 13 October 1928, page 4a.

    "Revival in Adelaide of Noble Art of Self-Defence" is in Register,
    11 December 1929, page 30c,
    The Mail, 25 January 1930, page 23.

    A cartoon on wrestling is in The News,
    13 September 1937, page 5.

    Sport - Choose again