Trial of Two Centuries
Opening Statements
Public Executions
Human v. Human Sport
Animal v. Animal Sport Human v. Animal Sport Closing Statements Witness List End Notes & Bibliography

Three human v. human sports are examined during the trial. They are: Boxing, Football, and Stick Fighting. Links to these sports will appear in the navigational drop-down box above.


[The Prosecution calls cultural critic Robert Williamson to the stand.]

Prosecution: Describe the rules of boxing for the first forty plus years of the sport during this the 18th century?

Williamson: After Figg became champion, his style of boxing became the predominant. In this version of the sport, the pugilist could use whatever weapon he had at his disposal. Cudgel, single-stick, bludgeon, or club, whichever he choose. … There has not been any establishment the number of rounds.1

Prosecution: Are all fights organized?

Williamson: No.

Prosecution: Could you please explain for the sake of the jury what you mean?

Williamson: When two men are unable to leave a disagreement, they proceed to remove their shirts and have a go at boxing against each other. The fans who quickly gather to bet on the match enforce the rules they feel fit?2

Prosecution: Is this hand to hand combat only?

Williamson: Usually, no. They can also use their heads to knock against each other.

Prosecution: Do they wear something on their fists to prevent hand damage and soften the blow to the head?

Williamson: No, they are bare-fisted.

Prosecution: Does the fight end when one man is knocked down?

Williamson: No.

Prosecution: What does happen then when a man is on the ground?

Williamson: Usually his competitor may continue to strike at him with the battle ending either when he claims that he has had enough or is knocked out.3

Prosecution: If one fighter is hurting the other, do the spectators attempt to end the fight?

Williamson: No, because those that bet on him do not want to lose their money.

Wymer's Sport in England notes the picture as Street Football from the "Picture Post" Library.


[The Defense Cross-examines Williamson]

Defense: Mr. Williamson, you describe prize-fighting as rather barbaric?

Williamson: Yes,.

Defense: You also claim that there are no rules, yet it is a known fact that in 1743 the new champion Jack Broughton established a system of rules that included the barring of sticks and weapons. Is this true? 4

Williamson: Yes, but only if you do not consider a bare knuckle a weapon.


[The Defense calls Christopher Olster to the stand.]  

Defense: Does the sport bring more of a sense of community to the people of England.

Olster: Yes, since the sport of fighting does find spectatorship in all classes, it does bring British men together.

Defense: In general is the clergy behind boxing?

Olster: Yes, in fact, some are even professional prizefighters. 5

Defense: Is it true that if a sport is acceptable to God and his followers that-

Prosecution: Objection, your honor this is all hearsay and can not be proved.6

Judge: Sustained.


[The Prosecution Cross-examines Olster.]

J. Emery Molineux and Cribb March 1811.  

Prosecution: Is the sport bloody?

Olster: At times, yes.

Prosecution: Why do you personally watch?

Olster: For the sportsmanship and the skill of the challenge.

Prosecution: Do you root for a particular pugilist to win each fight you attend?

Olster: Yes.

Prosecution: In the course of rooting for one particular fighter, do root for him to strike and damage the other man to win?

Olster: I said, I cheer, yes.

Prosecution: So, then you are cheering for the ruin of one innocent man over an other?

Defense: He's leading the witness.

Judge: Sustained.

Copyright © 1999 Lara Zador and Jason Winokur. All rights reserved.
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