Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Famous Boxers Manuscript, [ca. 1830s]

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, April 2012

Summary Information
Title: Famous Boxers manuscript
Creator: Anonymous
Inclusive dates: [ca. 1830s]
Extent: 1 volume
This manuscript contains detailed descriptions of boxing matches, biographical information about prominent boxers, and related poetry, portraits, and illustrations, primarily concerning the sport's history in England during the early 1800s.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1982. M-2036.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Famous Boxers manuscript, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Boxing (also known as pugilism or prize fighting) originated in antiquity, but the sport was relatively unrecognized in Great Britain until the 18th century. James Fig, a boxing champion prominent in the early 1700s, helped increase its appeal, and Jack Broughton's set of rules codified and tamed the sport in 1743, outlawing hits below the waist or against a fallen opponent. Despite a 1750 law prohibiting the sport in England, prize fighting increased in popularity throughout the century. Members of all social classes participated in bouts, and the sport was particularly popular among the working class in urban areas, drawing large crowds and significant monetary wagers.

Prize fighting maintained its popularity in England until around 1825, just as it began to win followers in the United States. As the sport's popularity waned in England, famed boxers moved to North America, where the sport continued to develop.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This 546-page manuscript contains information on boxing and boxers in the early 19th century. Approximately 512 pages include detailed descriptions of boxing matches and biographies of prominent boxers, with an additional 27 pages devoted to boxing- related poetry. A 7-page index of names, matches, illustrations, and poetry finalizes the volume.

The round-by-round descriptions of matches provide details about the combatants and their movements, locations of the fights, histories of the participants, physical states of the fighters after the bouts, and prizes awarded. The biographies vary in length and are occasionally accompanied by portrait illustrations of the men in everyday or formal attire. English and American boxers are represented, including some African Americans. Additional drawings depict boxing matches and trophies.

Subject Terms

    • African American boxers.
    • Boxers (Sports)--Great Britain--Biography.
    • Boxers (Sports)--United States--Biography.
    • Boxing--History.
    • Boxing matches.
    • Boxing--Poetry.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • African American boxers.
    • Boxers (Sports)
    • Boxing matches.
    Genre Terms:
    • Biographies.
    • Drawings (visual works)
    • Histories.
    • Manuscripts (document genre)
    • Portraits.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Volume   1  
    Famous Boxers manuscript,  [ca. 1830s] [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Gorn, Elliott J. The Manly Art: Bare-knuckle Prize Fighting in America. Updated ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010.