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The Boxing Bookshelf #2
Billy Edwards' Art of Boxing
© 2013 James LaFond
Billy Edwards’ Art of Boxing and Manual of Training
Illustrated from instantaneous photographs
William Edwards [1888]
Brohan Press, Waterbury, CT, 2000, 111 pages, 25 illustrations
This book is a must for any student of the evolution of boxing from bare-knuckle to the gloved game. The volume is nicely reproduced and has a carnival feel to it, which is fitting because boxing was a carnival sport at the time, and remained so into the early 1930s’.
Billy Edwards was a tough little Brit who came to America and fought his way to lightweight fame. The instruction is nicely illustrated and is assisted by fellow Brit Arthur Chambers, who also had an interesting back-story. Just the two brief bios are gems. Billy has more to say about equipment use than any other boxing author of his era. This book also gets into a lot of the nasty bare-knuckle stuff that was falling out-of-favor at the time. Edwards is notable for being the first author I know of to name the ‘cross’ as a technique.
The most interesting aspect of this book is the three sets of rules in the back: The London Prize Ring Rules; The Marquis Queensberry Rules; and the little known American Fair Play Rules, which Billy was promoting at the time but which failed to take hold; and is an interesting compromise between the other two, with some elements having been retained in the modern pro game. The manual closes with the definition of amateur, and how it differed from England to America.
This book is the best of the 19th Century instructional manuals, and could actually be used as a training guide, where the others were more-or-less supplements along the lines of medieval manuals and modern magazine instruction.
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