'Under Queensberry Rules, So to Speak': Some ...

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‘Under Queensberry Rules, So to Speak’: Some Versions of a Metaphor Kasia Boddy a


University College London

Available online: 15 Feb 2012

To cite this article: Kasia Boddy (2011): ‘Under Queensberry Rules, So to Speak’: Some Versions of a Metaphor, Sport in History, 31:4, 398-422 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17460263.2011.646835

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Sport in History Vol. 31, No. 4, December 2011, pp. 398422

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Kasia Boddy

This essay considers the development of the Queensberry Rules in the 1860s and their subsequent history as a metaphor for regulation. Unlike other codes introduced in the period, the Queensberry Rules did not simply regularize existing practices; they suggested that an activity that the law refused to accept was a sport (prizefighting) could be refashioned to make it closely resemble an activity (sparring) whose sporting credentials were clear. Since the 1860s, the figurative uses of the Queensberry Rules have been many, but at every stage, a comparison with boxing control reveals just what (socially, politically and morally) a particular society is prepared to tolerate. The essay explores what the evocation of the Queensberry Rules reveals in a variety of legal and military contexts.

Many English idioms derive from boxing. We talk of having someone in our corner or of something not being up to scratch; we complain of low blows, or sucker punches, or being on the ropes; we throw in the sponge or are saved by the bell.2 Most of these figures of speech (and there are many others) refer to some action or position that occurs within the context of a particular fight. In this essay, however, I would like to consider what the Oxford English Dictionary calls the ‘extended use’ of a phrase that refers to the regulation of boxing itself: the Queensberry Rules.3

Kasia Boddy, University College London. Correspondence to: [email protected] ISSN 1746-0263 print; ISSN 1746-0271 online/11/040398-25 # 2011 The British Society of Sports History http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17460263.2011.646835

Sport in History 399

The Marquess of Queensberry Rules

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The Muscular Christians held their annual carnival during the boat race week, and for three days there was running, jumping and boxing in abundance at Lillie Bridge.4

During the last third of the nineteenth century, the codification or recodification of many sports was undertaken, often in the light of publicschool and Oxbridge practice.5 One of the significant figures in this process was John Graham Chambers (184383). President of the Cambridge University Boating Club and a champion pedestrian, Chambers’s greatest talents lay in regulation and organization, beginning with the establishment of the first inter-university competitions and soon extending to the Amateur Athletic Club (AAC), which he founded in 1866. Based in Pall Mall, convenient for ‘officers of the army and navy, members of the civil service, universities, the bar, and other London clubs’, the AAC also acquired a ground at Lillie Bridge where it staged competitions in ‘athletics . . . cricket, cycling, wrestling, boxing, and football contests, including the 1873 FA cup final’.6 If Chambers’s name is largely forgotten today, it is because the influential rules that he devised for the AAC boxing competition were not published under his own name but that of his friend from Magdalene College, Cambridge  John Douglas Sholto, the eighth Marquess of Queensberry.7 This was partly because Sholto, a keen amateur fighter himself, had sponsored the Queensberry Cup Championships  supplying three silver cups (for heavy, middle and lightweights)  but it was also hoped that his aristocratic title would bestow some respectability on a sport that had fallen into disrepute.8 In other words, Chambers and Queensberry had ambitions far beyond the AAC.9 Their aim was to save prizefighting from extinction by transforming it into ‘a sufficiently safe spectacle to be accounted legal’.10 Regulation was necessary but only the first step. Sholto embarked on a tour of the United States ‘to study the new methods of prize-fighting promotion’.11 Boxing was in a very different position from that of many of the other sports for which regulations were devised during this period. (Chambers also re-wrote the rules for billiards and was on the committee that devised the Putney rules for rowing, adopted for the Henley regatta.) The 1867 Queensberry Rules did not simply regularize existing practices; they suggested that an activity that many refused to accept was a sport (prizefighting) could be refashioned to make it closely resemble an activity whose sporting credentials were clear (sparring). In 1818, journalist Pierce Egan had described sparring as ‘a mock encounter;

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but, at the same time, a representation, and, in most cases an exact one, of real fighting’.12 The Queensberry revolution was to suggest that ‘real fighting’ should be understood as representation or ‘developed form’ of amateur boxing.13 The first rules for prizefighting had been published in 1743 ‘for the better regulation’ of Jack Broughton’s Ampitheatre.14 These specified how a round would begin and end; how the seconds and umpires should conduct themselves; how the money should be divided; and that a fight was over when one man could not be brought back to the scratch line in the centre of the ring. The rules were eagerly adopted by others eager to find a method of settling (often very large) bets. Without the eighteenth-century love of gambling, argues Dennis Brailsford, the development of ‘pugilism . . . would have been unthinkable’.15 The demands of gamblers also lay behind the decision, in 1746, to divide boxers into light, middle, and heavy weight classes (along the lines of horse handicapping). Broughton’s Rules were superseded in 1838 by the 29 London Prize Rules, which in turn were slightly revised in 1853. The London Prize Rules outlawed head-butting, kicking and biting and hitting below the belt, as well as further specifying the role of seconds and umpires, and the size (24ft square) and situation (on turf, surrounded by ropes) of the boxing ring. Most importantly, they decreed that if the result of the contest was undecided all bets were off. The Queensberry Rules appeared in two versions: one for amateur ‘challenge cups’ or sparring ‘competitions’, which had a set number of rounds and which were usually decided on points, and the other for professional ‘contests of endurance’, which were to be fought until one man could no longer continue (as stated in the London Prize Rules). Common to both codes was the introduction of timed rounds (usually three minutes) with an interval between each round of a minute (previously it had been 30 seconds). Wrestling was not allowed and gloves had to be worn  but only the code for contests specified that these were to be ‘fair-sized . . . of the best quality and new’. It was also decreed that a fighter had lost if, after being knocked down, he did not get up within 10 seconds (previously he had had 30 to 38 seconds). Since ‘attempting to knock the opponent out while sparring was frowned upon in amateur competitions’, the competition code did not include the 10-second count rule.16 After 1867, further modifications were made, further narrowing the gap between sparring for points and prizefighting. During the 1880s, contests too adopted the rule requiring a fixed number of rounds, with referees assuming the power to make a decision. In the 1890s, in response to calls for ‘a regulation glove, just as the cricket ball is a regulation ball’, the National Sporting Club (founded in 1891 by

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Queensberry, Lord Lonsdale and others) specified the size of gloves to be used at each weight.17 ‘Fair-sized’ had proved much too vague a description and many fighters used hard, and completely unpadded, leather gloves. In 1886, for example, Bell’s Life in London announced that J.R. Coupar would fight Sarrey Foley for the championship of the Australian and South African Colonies ‘with gloves as small as the law will allow to a finish under the Marquis of Queensberry rules’.18 In 1904, the NSC designated seven weight categories, extended to eight in 1914 when the light-heavyweight class was introduced. The institutional control of professional boxing did not begin until 1919 and the establishment of the British Boxing Board of Control; after a meeting with comparable French and American organizations, an amended version of the Queensberry rules, the International Boxing Rules, was ratified.19 While there have been minor modifications since then, the forms of amateur and professional boxing remain largely as Chambers and his friends shaped them.20 The success of the Queensberry Rules in effecting a transformation of bare-knuckle fighting into modern boxing is usually dated to 7 September 1892, the day on which James Corbett defeated John L. Sullivan to become the first gloved heavyweight champion.21 Staged in an electrically-lit indoor arena at the Olympic Club in New Orleans, in front of a crowd that included middle-class businessmen and their wives, Sullivan-Corbett showcased all that the Queensberry-governed boxing could deliver. In the decade that followed, a new generation of promoters developed the potential of gloved boxing as a spectator sport. Fasterpaced, more offensive and always with the potential for high drama, such contests also benefited from the abolition of the requirement to build the ring on turf. Moving boxing to an indoor stage ‘cleared the way for entrepreneurs to charge admission, and to control the audience with police and security guards.’22 The limitation of the number of rounds, and the increased likelihood of knockout blows, meant that contests now lasted, at most, little more than an hour. The ‘most important result of the Queensberry rules,’ writes Elliott Gorn, ‘was not to make the ring less violent but to make it more assimilable to the entertainment industry and to mass commercial spectacles’.23 But the transition was neither as sudden nor as smooth as talk of a ‘new day in boxing’ sometimes suggests.24 For 30 years and more, supporters of the ‘pugilism old and new’ wrangled continually  in newspapers and sporting magazines and in the law courts. The extended debate is perhaps one reason why the Queensberry Rules became so well known.

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Law reports of the 1870s and early 1880s reveal a persistent tendency to conceal illegal prizefights behind a facade of sparring competitions. The classic cases in clarifying the distinction between the two were R. v Orton (1878)  which ruled that whether gloves were used or not, a fight was illegal if the combatants intended to compete ‘till one gave in from exhaustion of injury received’ or ‘severely maul[ed] the other’  and R. v Coney (1882), which confirmed that consent was not a defence to the charge that prizefighting was assault, and further, that those involved in staging the fight were guilty of aiding and abetting.25 In the latter case, the fight in question had taken place in a field near the Ascot races and the judge concluded that it was ‘a matter of fact’ in such cases for the jury to decide ‘whether the circumstances of the fight were socially acceptable or not’.26 In other words, the social status of the fight and its audience (and whether it posed a threat of ‘affront’, ‘riot’ or ‘assault’) was just as important as the nature of the fight itself. For many, it was not the boxers who needed regulating but the spectators  ‘the most objectionable feature of a prize-fight’. In W.R.H. Trowbridge’s 1913 novel The White Hope, Durward Carisbrooke assures his grandmother that ‘nowadays, the men meet in padded rings in the presence of properly behaved people who have paid high for their places.’27 It was often difficult to decide what was or was not a prizefight. In another 1882 case, a prosecution was brought against the fighters and organizers of a contest at St Andrew’s Hall in Tavistock Square, London. The hall had supposedly been hired ‘for a few amateur gentlemen to have a sparring match’ but, the prosecution argued, the sparring that opened the evening was merely a cover for a ‘so-called prize fight’. The case rested on the classification of the main event. One witness claimed to have ‘heard nothing about Queensberry rules’ while others assured the judge that they had been announced. Everyone agreed that the fighters were wearing gloves but some claimed they were ‘thin’ and ‘not padded’.28 The testimony was finally found to be inconclusive and the defendants found guilty only of minor charges of disorderly conduct. For The Graphic, however, ‘it seems clear that a ‘‘contest for endurance’’ under the ‘‘Queensberry rules’’ is as much like a prize-fight as one thing can possibly be like another’: There is a wide difference between genuine boxing or sparring with properly padded gloves, where science and skill are the chief elements of the competition and ‘staying power’ is a mere ‘accident’ amongst the requirements, and these ‘endurance contests’ in which the men (whether gloved or not does not matter in the least) merely stand up

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and pound a way at each other to ascertain which can withstand the greatest amount of ‘punishment’.29

A similar case was tried the following year. The defence argued that the event was a ‘boxing competition under known rules, and in accordance with regulations which had been held not to be a breach of the law’.30 The fighters’ gloves were even produced in court for inspection. In this case, however, the judge concluded that since each boxer had been promised 25 shillings, a prizefight had been intended and, therefore, a breach of the peace had taken place31 Again and again, judges ruled that an event that was ‘called a sparring competition’ was ‘to all intents and purposes . . . a prize fight’ and therefore a breach of the peace.32 In legal terms then, the choice was not between one form of rules (Queensberry) or another (London Prize Rules) but between sanctioned sport (demonstrating the skill needed to score points) and an activity that, wherever it took place and whether or not gloves were involved, was the equivalent of street-fighting with the intention of injury, and therefore crime. But the line between crime and sport was never easy to draw  especially after ‘contests of endurance’ gave way to fixed-round fights for both amateurs and professionals. In 1890, one journalist argued that the line which divides the professional and the amateur  the physically educated brute and ‘nothing more,’ who gains an intermittent livelihood by the ‘scientific’ employment of his fists, from the gentleman who competes for cup and championship and the love of the manly art, is often so faint as to be almost imperceptible.33

Despite these difficulties, the legal distinction established in the 1880s between prizefighting and boxing (defined, by default, as not prizefighting) still holds today, policed by ‘elaborate self-regulatory’ structures.34 Some still consider this to be a legal anomaly, arguing that modern professional boxing  which ‘involves the deliberate infliction of pain but is exempt from criminal liability and immune to the laws of consent’  should not be aligned with sparring.35 In 1994, the House of Lords addressed the issue in the context of an appeal concerning the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and sadomasochism. Lord Mustill concluded that it was ‘impossible’ to find an ‘intellectually satisfying account of the apparent immunity of professional boxing from the criminal process’: ‘For the time being [boxing] stands outside the ordinary law of violence because society chooses to tolerate it.’36

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At the end of the nineteenth century, as the Queensberry Rules started to take hold  and ‘the new ‘‘sport’’’ established itself  a wave of nostalgia for the ‘real old kind’ of fighting emerged, and ‘no Queensberry rules for me’ became a call of honour.37 Numerous works celebrated the ‘solid and virile’ values of the Regency prizefighters and others staged fictional contests between ‘pugilism new and old’.38 Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Croxley Master’ (1899) is about a medical student who fights a bareknuckle veteran hoping to win £60 to complete his degree and ‘make his career’. Robert Montgomery only takes part because the terms of the contest  ‘twenty rounds, two-ounce gloves, Queensberry rules, and a decision on points if you fight to the finish’  resemble those of the university sparring at which he excelled. It’s no surprise then that Montgomery wins, nor that he then refuses the master’s request for a rematch, ‘old style and bare knuckles’. Montgomery knows that one of the Croxley Master’s iron blows was worth three of his, and . . . without the gloves he could not have stood for three rounds against him. All the amateur work that he had done was the merest tapping and flapping when compared to those frightful blows, from arms toughed by the shovel and the crowbar.39

The nostalgia of such pieces is often for the idea of endurance as much as strength. Under the London Prize Rules, fights could last for hours  in 1887 Jake Kilrain’s battle with Jem Smith was only stopped and declared a draw when darkness fell after 106 rounds. But not everyone agreed that old was better, or even tougher. The Times boxing correspondent found that ‘in many respects the older game was less exacting’, a view shared by amateur boxing enthusiast George Bernard Shaw.40 While prizefights had many rounds, they were of no fixed duration, and each was usually, Shaw noted, ‘terminated by the fall of one of the combatants (in practice usually both of them), and was followed by an interval of half a minute for recuperation’. So when a fighter needed a rest he could pretend to be knocked down. Under the revised Queensberry Rules, the number of rounds was predetermined, as was their duration (usually three or four minutes) and ‘a combatant who did not stand up to his opponent continuously during that time (ten seconds being allowed for rising in the event of a knock-down) lost the battle’.41 Discussions of the changes in boxing often focused on the fact that with the advent of gloves, bruises and cuts had become a thing of the past. Conan Doyle presents the Croxley Master as a grotesque figure  ‘squat’, with ‘mottled skin’ and a ‘huge mole’, hairy as well as ‘monstrous in chest

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and arms, limping slightly on his distorted leg’. Montgomery is ‘as symmetrical as a Greek statue’ with skin notable for its ‘freshness and clearness’.42 In Trowbridge’s novel, Carisbrooke makes his case for the modern prizefight by arguing that, although ‘hard blows’ are still exchanged, the flesh of Queensberry boxers is ‘almost bruiser proof’: Under the style of fighting presently in vogue the ‘bruiser’ as he was called in the past, whose mutilated face gave rise to the popular notion of a pugilist resembling a convict . . . has practically disappeared from the ring. As evidence that prize-fighting no longer involves permanent facial disfigurement one has only to look at the pictures of the latest champions. The features of John L. Sullivan, James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, and Jeffries, to name a few familiar names, show neither scar nor blemish. Like the old-time ‘bruiser’, broken noses, blackened eyes, and swollen ears are seldom seen nowadays  even the teeth remain in the mouth. A wet sponge will generally remove all traces of conflict.43

But if boxing looked ‘a bit less brutal’, it had actually become more dangerous.44 Under the London Prize Ring Rules, a big blow was as likely to break a fighter’s hands as knock down his opponent. Gloves did not protect heads, they made it possible for hands to hit harder. Furthermore, reducing the time allowed to recover from a knock-down encouraged more intensely offensive attacks (rather than scientific ‘dexterities’ for points). After 10 seconds, the fighter had either to concede defeat or else ‘stagger to his feet in a helpless condition and be eagerly battered into insensibility before he can recover his powers of self-defence’.45 Fighters were now less likely to accumulate numerous minor injuries (broken noses and black eyes) but more likely eventually to become (invisibly) brain-damaged, the trauma of repeated concussions having a cumulative effect, producing lesions that resulted in what, in 1928, was defined as ‘punch-drunk’ syndrome.46 The Queensberry Rules did not so much provide an ‘antiseptic’ for prize-fighting as ‘paste a veneer of respectability over the outlaw sport’.47 Injury was not abolished but removed from sight. As John Stuart Mill famously put it, ‘One of the effects of civilization (not so say one of the ingredients of it), is that the spectacle, and even the idea of pain, is kept more and more out of sight of those who enjoy in their fullness the benefits of civilization’.48 Like the history of the Queensberry Rules, the history of their metaphoric use reveals that the social, political and moral question most vividly crystallized by boxing concerns what  or rather whom  a


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society chooses, at a particular moment in its history, to tolerate. In what remains of this essay, I shall consider two such exemplary uses: legal and military.

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Extended Uses: the Law During the 1870s, when newspaper articles announced that a ‘fisticuff fight’ would take place ‘under the Marquis of Queensberry’s rules’, they often felt obliged to explain those rules at length.49 By the 1880s, however, the gloss was no longer needed and, furthermore, the phrase started to be used in non-sporting contexts. The full consequences of the Queensberry Rules  the increased violence of the sport and the commercial pay-off of its evasion of ‘outlaw characterization’ -rarely play a part in figurative uses.50 According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the extended use of ‘Queensberry Rules’ is ‘standard rules of polite or acceptable behaviour’. In some ways, this seems equivalent of the extended use of ‘cricket’, which the OED gives as ‘according to traditional standards of fairness and rectitude’, and which, it notes, is used chiefly in negative contexts: something that is ‘not cricket’ is deplored. The Queensberry Rules, of course, do not refer to anything ‘traditional’ and that is perhaps why the term has been used much more often to deplore the excess of regulation than its lack.51 Many of the first figurative uses were humorous  from a pun about mushrooms (‘Are the saphro-phytes conduced on military lines, or under the Marquis of Queensberry’s rules?’52) to a review of a novel which describes the heroine biting a burglar who tries to steal her emerald, ‘Queensberry rules being neglected’.53 The joke is about the imposition of formal rules in inappropriate contexts, about the fetishism of regulation. In a comic sketch from 1886, a town councillor refuses to intervene in a drunken brawl because he ‘did not care for tussles with roughs who fought utterly regardless of the Queensberry rules, especially when he was suffering from dyspepsia’.54 Here Queensberry is evoked as a short-cut for a fussiness or prissiness, what Bernard Shaw described as an ‘unconcealed repugnance’ for fighting itself. Shaw used this phrase while reviewing the actor-director Forbes Robertson’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Forbes Robertson, Shaw complained, had no sympathy for ‘Shakespeare’s love of a shindy’ (the director’s ‘love of law and order’ being most apparent in his stage management of the fighting scenes) and when required to fight himself, it was always ‘under Queensberry rules, so to speak’.55 In these examples Queensberry is evoked to suggest an overly decorous approach to the conflicts of life and art. Elsewhere, however, a mention of

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the rules suggesting an underlying pugnacity among the traditionally unpugnacious  from Victorian housewives ruling their ‘self-important’ but ‘little’ husbands,56 to ‘old gentlemen in the most august assembly on earth’, that is, the US Senate. ‘Might it not be possible,’ asked the New York Times in 1922, ‘to apply the Marquis of Queensberry rules’ to senatorial debate? ‘Something ought to be done to establish at least a system of referees, who should decide what blows are foul and how the prize belt is to be awarded. There ought also to be, it is evident, better control of the seconds.’57 A similar comparison also injects some pugilistic glamour into such documents as ‘Notes on Amalgamations of British Businesses’, the Bank of England’s 1959 booklet regulating corporate mergers and takeovers,58 and HMRC’s 2009 internal review procedures.59 For Sidney Law, the role of government was too often simply that of referee, keeping the ring, ‘while individuals pummel one another inside the ropes under the Queensberry rules of free competition’.60 Of all the self-styled adversarial professions, however, perhaps the most devoted to boxing metaphors is the law. Today the image of lawyers exchanging blows (with the judge ‘acting merely as a referee applying the Marquis of Queensberry Rules’) has become commonplace.61 In 1887, however, the image of ‘trial by battle’ at the Thames Police Court was novel enough to inspire a satirical cartoon  see Figure 1.62 Ten years later, the Yale Law Journal also evoked Queensberry to argue against the judge’s diminished role  here, he doesn’t even get to hold the sponge, only the watch  in an article whose complaints about the ‘modern-raid’ for personal injury damages feels very modern. The personal-injury lawyer and the personal-injury doctor, with his ‘traumatic neurosis’, stand in the ring and fight the railroad doctor and

Figure 1 ‘Trial by Battle’. Source: Funny Folks, 1 January 1887, 45.


K. Boddy the railroad lawyer, with his ‘contributory negligence’, from ‘start to finish’, with a jury for the referee and a judge who is reduced by legislation, if possible, to be a mere official time-keeper. The ‘Marquis of Queensberry rules’ provided by constitutional conventions and Legislatures are all one-sided and in favor of the Plaintiff.63

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The charge of one-sidedness  the complaint that tight regulation only applies to one of the parties involved in a dispute  has become the most common occasion in which the Queensberry Rules are evoked. For example, within the House of Commons, Eurosceptic MPs often resort to Queensberry to express their displeasure with EU directives. Whereas our continental counterparts sign up to highfalutin declarations with only the vaguest intention of complying with them, we play by the Queensberry rules and regard that as an earnest of our serious intent to get on with the business of proper enforcement and compliance without delay.64 One of the problems and frustrations that we face is that we in Great Britain play by the Queensberry rules, we do what the EU tells us to do and we are compliant, unlike our partners in the EU who repeatedly break agreements and cheat.65 As I have said before, we normally play by Queensberry, whereas the rest play by Italian rules, and that makes life rather difficult.66

For the Eurosceptics, unwilling to conceive of the UK as a member rather than an antagonist of Europe, the fight is one of little Britain vs. the Goliath of Brussels bureaucracy. Most allusions to Queensberry, however, tend to take the form of complaints about legal interventions restricting the strength of the powerful against the weak. Consider two examples from the US Supreme Court. The first concerns two famous cases from the 1960s  Escobedo vs Illinois (1964) and Miranda vs Arizona (1966)  which resulted in the extension of procedural safeguards against self-incrimination (the defendant should be warned he has the right to remain silent and that anything he says may be used against him, as well as being clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation). But after Escobedo’s confession was deemed constitutionally inadmissible, the New York Police Commissioner complained that ‘what the court is doing is akin to asking one boxer to fight by the Queensberry rules while permitting the other to butt, gouge and bite’.67 More recently, Justice Scalia brought the Queensberry Rules into a discussion of the regulation of ‘fighting words’ (a term which

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extended to the provocative display of burning crosses, swastikas etc).68 The conviction of ‘hate speech’ was brought against a group of white teenagers alleged to have burnt a cross in the fenced yard of a black family in St Paul, Minnesota. One of the teenagers appealed on First Amendment (free speech) grounds and the case eventually ended up in the Supreme Court. In R.A.V. vs City of St Paul, the court argued that the St Paul ordinance was unconstitutional since it specified some fighting words (concerning race, colour, creed, religion and gender) and not others. Justice Scalia summed up: One could hold up a sign saying, for example that all ‘anti-Catholic bigots’ are misbegotten; but not that all ‘papists’ are, for that would insult and provoke violence ‘on the basis of religion’. St Paul has not such authority to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow the Marquis of Queensberry rules.69

The court’s general point was that the law should address the mode rather than the content of fighting words, but Scalia’s example (along with his allusions to Queensberry and debating) reveal a dubious assumption of parity. In arguing that the law should act impartially between two ‘sides’, he implied that they were  to extend his metaphor  fairly matched. But, just as we might want to suggest that reading a criminal his rights is not equivalent to ‘gouging’, might we not want to distinguish between punches (such as ‘papist’ or ‘nigger’) and counter-punches (‘bigot’ or ‘racist’)? Are both legitimate ‘debating’ moves? The attachment of Anglo-American lawyers and politicians to boxing metaphors is undoubtedly a consequence of a training that is rooted in the belief that debate, dispute and dissent constitute the core of a liberal democracy. It is an idea with a long pedigree. In 1948, for example, Bertrand Russell argued that ‘vigorous discussion between different schools of thought’ was an essential limit to Fascism or totalitarianism. But ‘mental competition’ required some means of ‘limiting the means to be employed’: ‘The state [must] . . . hold the ring and establish some sort of Queensberry rules by which the contest is to be conducted.’70 One of the classic articulations of this position can be found in chapter two of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859) where he champions the ‘rough process of a struggle between combatants fighting under hostile banners’ against any overly ‘restraining’ or ‘enfeebl[ing]’ influences of custom as well as ‘law and authority’.71 And yet Mill also held that such intellectual, ethical, or even military, struggles or ‘free discussions’ could only take place when the parties concerned were of ‘the same, or something like the same, degree of civilization’.72 Liberty is only relevant


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to those ‘capable of free and equal discussion’.73 While ‘rules of international morality’ hold between ‘one civilised nation and another’  since both parties understand the concept of ‘reciprocity’  they do not apply ‘between civilized nations and barbarians’. ‘Barbarians will not reciprocate. They cannot be depended upon for observing any rules.’74

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Extended Uses: Warfare The Queensberry revolution in boxing coincided with a period of intense political and juridical attempts to ‘civilize’ war. Only seven years separated the first gloved heavyweight contest and the 1899 Hague Convention, a conference which, Geoffrey Best argues, failed to ‘inaugurate a golden age of peace’ but simply updated the laws of war.75 Representatives of 26 nations met and agreed to prohibit the use of several deadly new technologies, including asphyxiating gases, balloons to drop bombs and dumdum bullets. But, as Best notes, ‘the short-list of weapons for consideration was  as it often is  partly a matter of preference and prejudice. No one mentioned machine guns or shrapnel.’76 The establishment of a Permanent Court of Arbitration was also of limited value, he argues, since there was no obligation for individual states to submit to its ruling. One of the great supporters of the conference was Theodore Roosevelt, then Governor of New York. Writing about its achievements, he expressed the belief that wars ‘between civilized nations’ would become increasingly infrequent, especially if each side advocated peace from a position of strength. But then Roosevelt introduced a disclaimer, a proviso that echoes Mill’s, and one that has been used in relation to almost every military conflict since 1900: The growth of peacefulness between nations, however, has been confined strictly to those that are civilized. It can only come when both parties to a possible quarrel feel the same spirit. With a barbarous nation peace is the exceptional condition. On the border between civilization and barbarism war is generally normal because it must be under the conditions of barbarism.77

For Roosevelt, the barbarian could emerge anywhere  ‘the Red Indian at the frontier of the United States, the Afghan on the border of British India, or the Turkoman who confronts the Siberian Cossack’  and in the long run civilized man finds he can keep the peace only by subduing his barbarian neighbour; for the barbarian will yield only to force. . . . Back of the force must come fair dealing if the peace is to be

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permanent. But fair dealing without force usually amounts to nothing.78

Although a keen amateur boxer and an advocate of boxing in military training, Roosevelt does not here draw an analogy between the laws of war and those of sport. Nevertheless the distinction that he makes  between conflicts involving civilized opponents ‘in the same spirit’ and those pitting the civilized against the barbarian  cannot help but recall discussions of ‘pugilism old and new’. On the one hand, the equivalent of the ‘good, healthy sport’ of boxing between equal opponents; on the other, something resembling Conan Doyle’s mismatch between an ungloved grotesque and a smooth-skinned sparrer.79 The desire to distinguish between styles of fighting and opponents introduced in the 1890s has continued ever since in debates about parity, proportion and equivalence. Again and again, an argument for breaking international agreements has been made by characterizing an opponent as a barbarian  a bare-knuckle bruiser  not sufficiently ‘civilized’ to qualify for the Queensberry Rules of war. The argument also concerned what Roosevelt described as ‘preparedness’. Civilization, in other words, could not be assumed; the gloves could easily come off. Responding to the British Labour government’s advocacy of the abolition of submarine warfare as part of its more general agenda of international disarmament, the Conservative MP Duff Cooper wrote to the Times in 1929 asking whether it was possible to ‘trust our neighbours or ourselves to observe in the heat of war promises made in the calm of peace’: Salus reipublicae suprema lex  if a nation is ever justified in going to war, it can only be when it is fighting for its life or for something more sacred than its life. No man when he is fighting for his life will, or should, observe the Queensberry rules of boxing. No nation, having once taken the ghastly decision to go to war, is justified in abstaining from any step which will bring that war to the swiftest possible conclusion, unless it has been foolish enough to tie its own hands before entering the arena.80

In the decade that followed, this argument was made again and again  in response to the disarmament ambitions of the Labour First Lord of the Admiralty A.V. Alexander and then to the agreements brokered by his Conservative equivalent, Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell,81 and later to the speed of rearmament and Joseph Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement.82 More generally, the target, as George Orwell put it, was a generation of ‘decent people’ stubbornly wedded to a public-school ideal of gentlemanly behaviour.83 In Coming Up for Air (1939), Orwell’s hero George Bowling visits


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Old Porteous, a retired public schoolmaster, whose mind, Bowling thinks, ‘probably stopped working at about the time of the Russo-Japanese War’: And it’s a ghastly thing that nearly all the decent people, the people who don’t want to go round smashing faces in with spanners, are like that. They’re decent, but their minds have stopped. They can’t defend themselves against what’s coming to them, because they can’t see it, even when it’s under their noses. They think that England will never change and that England’s the whole world. Can’t grasp that it’s just a left-over, a tiny corner that the bombs happen to have missed. But what about the new kind of men from eastern Europe, the streamlined men who think in slogans and talk in bullets? They’re on our track. Not long before they catch up with us. No Marquess of Queensberry rules for those boys. And all the decent people are paralysed. Dead men and live gorillas. Doesn’t seem to be anything between.84

The defeat of Hitler in 1945 did not end anxieties about gorillas or bare-knuckled barbarians. Cold War discussions of nuclear deterrence, the 1949 Geneva Convention and the establishment of the United Nations all used allusions to Queensberry to question parity and to suggest that the failure to acknowledge the barbarism of the enemy was a failure of realpolitik. It was ‘out of this world’, exclaimed one commentator, to imagine that a supernational agency could control atomic weaponry as if it were a ‘kind of paternal umpire  supervising the conflicts of the globe to see if they are fought according to the Queensberry rules, but taking no interest in the outcome’.85 The same point has been made again and again. ‘The big lesson we should have learned at Pearl Harbor’, wrote retired Rear Admiral D.V. Gallery in 1966, is that ‘war is not a game played by a set of formal rules like the Geneva Convention.’ It was naive to be outraged at the use of tear gas in Vietnam, Gallery said: ‘Our enemy follows no rules of God or man, but we are trying to play the game by Marquis of Queensberry rules.’86 A few years later, when Congress overrode Richard Nixon’s Presidential veto in order to pass the War Powers Resolution, he complained bitterly of the imposition of ‘Marquis of Queensberry rules in a world where good manners are potentially fatal hindrances’.87 The list of countries, or groups, to which the Queensberry Rules have been thought not to apply is long. In 1983, when the Thai army pressured the Prime Minister into calling early elections to try to prevent an imminent curtailing of its powers, the leader of the opposing Social Democrat Party, Oxford-educated M.R. Kukrit Pamoj declared:

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I thought we were fighting under the Queensberry Rules . . .. We knocked down the other party for a count of ten and thought we had won a victory of some sort. But when we got down from the ring they started hitting us with folded chairs. Then we realised this was American all-in wrestling. We had been fighting under different rules.88

The argument could go both ways. In 1991, when Serbia invaded Croatia, a British MP complained that it was ‘not a conflict between equals  the Queensberry rules have not been applied’89  while in 1998 another MP defended Nigerian intervention in Sierra Leone with the claim that ‘when military action is taken in west Africa, Marquess of Queensberry rules just do not apply’.90 If most evocations of Queensberry occur in the context of perceived unwarranted restraint, some use the phrase to argue, contra Mill, that the fact that we, the civilized can’t depend on the barbarians to observe the rules doesn’t mean we should abandon them ourselves. Indeed staying within the law is what keeps us civilized, especially when the enemy violates it.91 ‘I do not pretend that it is always possible to act according to some international Queensberry rules in dealing with acts of terrorism,’ declared the British MP Menzies Campbell in 2002, in the aftermath of the Israeli army’s attack on the Jenin refugee camp following a series of a suicide bombings. The provocation was ‘intolerable’, he said, but Israel’s use of ‘continuing unfettered and defiant military action’ had threatened its ‘good name and its credentials as a democracy’.92 Similar arguments, against those who claim it is impossible to ‘hamstring the forces of law and order by compelling them to adhere strictly to Queensberry rules, can be found in various contexts.93 ‘Despite, or perhaps because of ’ the ‘dangers’ that beset him, argued Halo and Maisels, discussing South Africa in 1966, the ‘White man’ should adhere ‘more strictly than ever’ to the rule of law.94 And in 1999, asked why NATO did not just march into Kosovo and ‘crush Milosevic’, the British chief of defence General Sir Charles Guthrie stressed the importance of ‘fighting by the Queensberry rules . . . against thugs who know little or care less about civilised behaviour’.95 Of course not all illegality takes the bare-knuckled form of torture and tanks; much of it emerges in the gloves of covert operations. A consistent note of what we might call anti-Queensberryism is sounded by the CIA and those who defend it from the charges of ‘idealist’ politicians.96 Reporting to Congress in 1984, for example, a senior CIA official called Ray Cline made the familiar response to questions about the covert mining of Nicaraguan harbours: ‘Must the United States respond like a man in a barroom brawl who will only fight according to the Queensberry


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Rules?’ George W. Ball, who as Undersecretary of State in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations had argued vociferously against US involvement in Vietnam, responded that losing the brawl was less of a risk than ‘fuzz[ing]’ the difference between the US and the Soviet Union, the civilized and the barbarian:

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We act out of character, which no great power can do without diminishing itself. When we yield to what is, in my judgement, a childish temptation to fight the Russians on their own terms and in their own gutter, we make a major mistake and throw away one of our greatest assets.97

After the Twin Towers fell, the mood was very anti-Queensberry. ‘11 September 2001 was a shock for most,’ summarizes Christopher Coker  an ‘intoxicating moral certainty of the hour’ persuaded a few in Washington ‘that only the most ruthless response would save the day . . .. The gloves came off.’98 Gradually further barbarians were identified. In October 2001, Maureen Dowd wrote an article in the New York Times about the challenge of the Taliban. After evoking Flashman and quoting Kipling’s Kim (‘certain things are not known to those who eat with forks’), Dowd expressed her anxiety that George W. Bush, who ‘was brought up to believe in Marquess of Queensberry rules’, had found himself ‘competing against combatants with Genghis Khan rules’.99 Ten years of fighting have now passed and during that time, the political and popular understanding of what should be permitted in war has shifted somewhat. If the generals and CIA operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan sometimes felt hemmed in by restrictive rules of engagement,100 others complained that they were not sufficiently attentive to those rules. The gloves, they argued, should go back on. ‘Surely the point about civilisation is that it does not descend lightly into terror and barbarism?’ asked Isabel Hilton, after news emerged in 2001 of the involvement of British and American special forces in the massacre of Taliban prisoners at Abdul Rashid Dostam’s Quala-i-Jhangi fort. ‘The Afghans, we hear, have a bent for savagery and it would be absurd to expect a war in Afghanistan to be fought by Queensberry Rules,’ wrote Hilton, ‘But whose war is this and who must take responsibility for the war crimes that have been committed? . . . Were [the British and Americans] fighting by Dostum’s rules or by their own? Or do we no longer bother with the distinction?’101 The distinction was still not apparent in November 2005, when a group of US Marines, retaliating after one of their men was killed by a bomb in Haditha, shot and bombed 24 unarmed Iraqis, including women and children. Following public

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Sport in History 415

outrage, and other incidents, all 150,000 coalition troops in Iraq were ordered to undergo ‘emergency tutorials’ in battlefield ethics. Commanders, reported the Times, had been directed ‘to conduct core warrior values training, highlighting the importance of adhering to legal, moral and ethical standards on the battlefield’.102 In that case, ‘a slide presentation with training vignettes’ was considered sufficient, but military academies are increasingly emphasising education in ‘The Code of the Warrior’ which include extracts of the Iliad (and consider the idea that while Achilles fights and even kills the Trojans, he doesn’t ‘despise them’).103 Boxing also continues to play a part in military education. In 2010, the New York Times argued that an increased focus on the sport at West Point was indicative of a greater concern with ‘combat at its most basic level, man against man, face meets fist’. Boxing taught the respect and restraint necessary for a proper ‘warrior ethos’ but it also encouraged an ‘aggressive mind-set’; members of the West Point boxing team tend to ‘choose front-line combat, mostly infantry, at a higher rate than any other group on campus’.104 In 1836, John Stuart Mill worried that the ‘humane’ came at the expense of the ‘heroic’.105 Boxing  fighting but in a form that is ‘not too injurious’  promises the perfect liberal reconciliation.106 * Carl von Clausewitz famously defined war as ‘nothing but a duel on a larger scale. Countless duels go to make up war, but a picture of it as a whole can be formed by imagining a pair of wrestlers.’107 Clausewitz developed his metaphor in 1832, at a time when the actions of the single solider were already less important than mass manoeuvres and artillery fire. Since then, as war has increasingly relied on technological supremacy and as ‘asymmetric warfare’ has become the norm, the ever-more anachronistic rhetoric of war as duel, as wrestling or boxing, has grown even more urgent. It is in this context that talk of Queensberry goes beyond the cliche´ of legal restraint and instead draws attention to the ways in which war is conceptualized. As we’ve seen, such talk both highlights the failure of equivalence and offers a way to assert its necessity. It also invites an engagement with questions of judicial equality, whatever the nature of belligerents. The ethical, legal (and ultimately, for boxers and soldiers, professional) issues at stake encompass the nature of weaponry allowed, the ‘proper objects’ at which to ‘direct one’s hostility or aggression’, and what constitutes a correct start and end to combat.108 None of these are easy to resolve. What is the military equivalent of the four-ounce glove?

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Where exactly is the line to be drawn between combatant and noncombatant? Is it better to fight to ‘the finish’ of ‘unconditional surrender’, or to try to achieve a refereed decision?109 What is the status of the referee? We are sometimes told that it is ‘dishonest’ to ‘fool the public into thinking that war today can be made into a decent humanitarian affair’; that the Geneva Conventions, like the Queensberry Rules, simply repackage violence and make tolerable what should never be tolerated.110 Others argue that, on the contrary, there is a clear and ‘natural’ choice between ‘fighting clean’  ‘war fought by Queensberry Rules’  and ‘fighting dirty’ ‘murder’ or ‘massacre’ in the name of worthless rules (whether coined by Ghengis Khan, Dostum or the London Prize Ring).111 This essay has argued that in battle, as in the combat sport of boxing, the line between the acceptable and the unacceptable is always a matter of complex social negotiation. That negotiation should involve an historical analysis and critique of the terms in which it is conducted. Notes 1. 2.

3. 4. 5. 6.



G.B.S [George Bernard Shaw], ‘Romeo and Juliet’, The Saturday Review, 28 September 1895, 410. On some uses of boxing metaphor in the 2008 US election, see Frank Mankiewicz, ‘Boxing Metaphors: Fancy Footwork?’, Huffington Post, 13 March 2008, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-mankiewicz/boxing-metaphorsfancy-fo_b_91475.html The OED includes entries, and examples of usage, for both ‘the Queensberry Rules’ and ‘the Marquis of Queensberry Rules’. ‘Sports, Past and to Come’, Bailey’s Magazine of Sport and Pasttimes, May 1870, 191. Harold Perkin, ‘Teaching the Nations How to Play’, in The Cultural Bond: Sport, Empire, Society, ed. J.A. Mangan (London: Frank Cass, 1992), 213. M.A. Bryant, ‘Chambers, John Graham (18431883)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Oct 2005, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/5075 John Graham Chambers is often confused with the Salford-born boxer Arthur Chambers, who became lightweight champion in 1872 and who later served as an adviser to John L. Sullivan. See, for example, The Tenth Marquess of Queensberry, The Sporting Queensberrys (London: Hutchinson and Co, 1942), 11617. The first competition, held at Beaufort House on 16 July 1867, was ‘a dismal failure’  ‘not more than fifty people turned up’: Guy Deghy, Noble and Manly: The History of the National Sporting Club (London: Hutchinson, 1956), 55.

Sport in History 417 9.

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11. 12. 13. 14.


16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

The Queensberry Cup Championship continued until 1885. After 1880, competitions were also staged, under slightly different rules, at St James’s Hall by the Amateur Boxing Association, which ‘allowed blue-collar workers to enter its annual championships’ and ‘proved such an attraction for spectators that the Lillie Bridge event was soon discontinued’: Stan Shipley, ‘Boxing’, in Encyclopedia of World Sport, ed. David Levinson and Karen Christensen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 62. Bernard Shaw attended the Queensberry championships and later noted that there ‘were but few competitors’ and that the ‘spars’ were ‘thinly attended’. He signed up to compete in 1883 but didn’t fight: G.B. Shaw, ‘Note on Modern Prizefighting’ (1901), appended to Cashel Byron’s Profession (London: Constable, 1925), 338. Jack Anderson, ‘Pugilistic Prosecutions: Prize Fighting and the Courts in the Nineteenth Century’, The Sports Historian 21, no. 2 (November 2001), 45. The association of Queensberry with restrained respectability was ironic, as Sholto was notoriously short-tempered and prone to fight in the streets: Marquess of Queensberry, The Sporting Queensberrys, 141. Deghy, Noble and Manly, 61. Pierce Egan, Boxiana, vol. 2 (1818) (London: Sherwood, Jones and Co., 1824), 16. John Sugden, Boxing and Society: An International Analysis (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), 27. The rules (the ‘data of Boxing’) are reproduced in Pierce Egan, Boxiana, vol. 1 (1812) (London: Sherwood, Jones and Co., 1823), 512. Norbert Elias argues that it was not until these rules were introduced that boxing ‘assumed the characteristics of a ‘‘sport’’’: ‘The Genesis of Sport as a Sociological Problem’, in Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilising Process, ed. Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), 21. Dennis Brailsford, Bareknuckles: A Social History of Prize-fighting (Cambridge: Lutterworth, 1988), 28. Casanova reported coming upon a man dying ‘from a blow he had received in boxing’ in the streets of London. On enquiring about medical assistance, he was told that this was not possible since two men had bet 20 guineas on his death or recovery. Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis, Three Tours Through London in 1748, 1776, 1797 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1941), 623. Shipley, ‘Boxing’, 61. Locksley, ‘Prize Fighting and Boxing’, Time, March 1890, 266. ‘General Sport’, Bell’s Life in London, 8 March 1886, 2. ‘Would Alter Boxing Code’, New York Times, 5 December 1919. For example, a rule was introduced in 1927 requiring boxers to retire to a ‘neutral corner’ instead of hovering above a floored opponent. The first gloved champion was actually Jack ‘The Nonpareil’ Dempsey, who defeated George Fulljames for the middleweight title in 1884. Elliott J. Gorn and Warren Jay Goldstein, A Brief History of American Sports (New York: Hill & Wang, 1993), 121. Elliott J. Gorn, The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), 205.


24. 25.

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26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.



36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46.

47. 48.

K. Boddy Nat Fleischer and Sam Andre, A Pictorial History of Boxing (London: Spring Books, 1959), 70. Quoted in Ian Warren, Outlaw Governance: Boxing and Western Law (Berlin: VDM Verlag, 2009), 25. Anderson, ‘Pugilistic Prosecutions’, 51. W.R.H. Trowbridge, The White Hope (London: Chapman and Hall, 1913), 20. ‘An Alleged Prize Fight’, The Times (London), 12 May 1882, 4. ‘Endurance Contests’, The Graphic, 20 May 1882, 514. ‘A Prize Fight Prevented’, Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 29 April 1883, 7. Ibid. ‘Boxing in Public Halls in Glasgow’, Glasgow Herald, 1 April 1885, 10. Locksley, ‘Prize Fighting and Boxing’, 66. Guy Deghy, however, maintains that after 1890 (and the dismissal on appeal of the case of Slavin and McAuliffe), ‘public opinion became aware for the first time that professional boxing was no longer to be regarded as a rough offshoot of drinking bouts in obscure public houses’: Deghy, Noble and Manly, 45. Warren, Outlaw Governanace, 27. Since the 1920s, what determined the legality of a fight was whether it took place under regulatory control of a legitimate authority. Ambi Sithamparanathan, ‘But is Prize-fighting Legal?’, The Times, 18 February 2003. See also Anderson, ‘Pugilistic Prosecutions’, 51; Michael Gunn and David Oemerod, ‘Despite the Law: Prize-fighting and Professional Boxing’, in Law and Sport in Contemporary Society, eds. Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn (London: Frank Cass, 2000), 25; and Neil Parpworth, ‘Boxing and Prize Fighting: the Indistinguishable Distinguished’, Sport and Law Journal 2, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 58. R v. Brown, 1994, quoted in Gunn and Oemerod, ‘Despite the Law’, 27. ‘The Man About Town’, The County Gentleman: Sporting Gazette and Agricultural Journal, 30 July 1881, 817; Locksley, ‘Prize Fighting and Boxing’, 266. Arthur Conan Doyle, Rodney Stone (1896) (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1912), 251; ‘Pugilism Old and New’, The Times, 17 July 1914, 12. Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Croxley Master’, in The Green Flag (1900) (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1905), 10470. ‘Pugilism Old and New’, 12. Shaw, ‘Note on Modern Prizefighting’, 335. Conan Doyle, ‘The Croxley Master’, 143. Trowbridge, The White Hope, 20. Gorn, The Manly Art, 205. Shaw, ‘Note on Modern Prizefighting’, 338, 336. Harrison S. Martland, ‘Punch Drunk’, Journal of the American Medical Association 91 (13 October 1928), 11037. The OED dates the first use of ‘punch drunk’ to 1918. Arne Lang, Prizefighting: An American History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008) 25; Gorn and Goldstein, A Brief History of American Sports, 121. John Stuart Mill, ‘Civilization’ (1836), in The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, vol. 18, ed. J.M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977), 130.

Sport in History 419 49.

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50. 51.

52. 53. 54. 55. 56.



59. 60. 61. 62.

See, for example, ‘Disgraceful Scene at a Boxing Match’, The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 6 September 1877, 2. Warren, Outlaw Governance, 27. A rare example in which the rules are evoked to suggest too little law concerns the proposed ‘middle way’ of government-regulation (rather than a ban) for fox hunting. The Labour MP Tony Banks described the proposal as ‘some system of Queensberry rules whereby an animal can be ripped to pieces and that is okay . . . The middle way is hunting by another name. That is all it is  hunting with a bit of bureaucracy’: House of Commons Hansard Debates 18 March 2002, col. 84, http://www.publications.parliament. uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo020318/debtext/20318-25.htm. See also Michael Woods, ‘Hunting: New Labour Success or New Labour Failure?’, in New Labour’s Countryside: Rural Policy Since 1997, ed. Michael Woods (Bristol: Policy Press, 2008), 95114. ‘The Innocent at a Fungus Foray’, Funny Folks, 8 December 1883, 386. Review of The Slave by Robert Hichens, The Times, 2 January 1900, 5. ‘Knicknacks’, Fun, 25 August 1886, 83. Shaw, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, 410. An 1885 comic sketch features Mr Dinks (‘a self-important little man’) announcing to his wife (‘a very big woman’) that ‘every household should have a set of rules’. She agrees, but when he announces that he will prepare some, she tells him she’s already following the ‘Marquis of Queensberry’s rules’: The Dart: The Midland Figaro, 10 April 1885, 11. A similar usage appears in ‘SelfDefence for Woman’, Saturday Review, 2 July 1887, 4, and is discussed in Mackay, ‘English Slang and French Argot: Fashionable and Unfashionable’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, May 1888, 698. In 1948, the American novelist Ralph Ellison included, in a series of ‘surreal fantasies’ set in Harlem, a scene in which ‘a man beating his wife in a park uses boxing ‘‘science’’ and observes Marquess of Queensberry rules (no rabbit punching, no blows below the belt)’: ‘Harlem in Nowhere’, in Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (New York: Vintage, 1972), 297. ‘The Real Need of the Senate’, New York Times, 3 June 1922. See also Jacob K. Jervits, ‘Some Queensbury Rules for Congressional Investigations’, The Reporter, 1 September 1953. B.J. Davies, ‘An Affair of the City: A Case Study in the Regulation of Take-Overs and Mergers’, The Modern Law Review 36, no. 5 (1973), 457, n. 1. In 1981, it was announced that a merchant banker called John Hignett was ‘hanging up his boxing gloves’ to ‘ensure that corporate bruisers observe the Takeover Panel’s version of the Queensberry Rules’: Philip Robinson, ‘Business Profile: John Hignett and the Takeover Panel’, The Times, 6 July 1981, 19. Harriet Brown, ‘Queensberry Rules the HMRC Internal Review Procedure One Year On’, Taxation, 25 March 2010. Sidney Law, ‘The Cross-Currents of Unionism’, The English Review, March 1911, 721. Charles E. Wyzanski, Jr., ‘A Trail Judge’s Freedom and Responsibility’, Harvard Law Review 65, no. 8 (June 1952), 12834. ‘Trial by Battle’, Funny Folks, 1 January 1887, 45.


63. 64.



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70. 71. 72.

73. 74. 75.

76. 77.

78. 79. 80. 81.

K. Boddy Eli Shelby Hammond, ‘Personal Injury Litigation’, The Yale Law Journal 6, no. 6 (June 1897), 332. John Bercow, House of Commons Hansard Debates, 18 December 2000, col. 52, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200001/cmhansrd/vo001218/ debtext/01218-14.htm David Kawczynski, House of Commons Hansard Debates, 6 December 2006, col. 384, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/ cm061206/debtext/61206-0016.htm Tony Marlow, House of Commons Hansard Debates, 18 January 1993, col. 89, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199293/cmhansrd/1993-0118/Debate-8.html Sidney E. Zion, ‘High Court Scored on Crime Rulings’, New York Times, 14 May 1965, 39. For a British version of the argument, see ‘Detectives ‘‘Cannot Follow Queensberry Rules’’’, The Times, 25 February 1958, 5. Fighting words are defined as ‘conduct that itself inflicts injury and tends to incite immediate violence’: Steven H. Shiffrin, Dissent, Injustice and the Meanings of America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 69. Ibid., 52. See also Eric J. Grannis, ‘Fighting Words and Fighting Freestyle: The Constitutionality of Penalty Enhancement for Bias Crimes’, Columbia Law Review 93, no. 1 (January 1993), 210. Bertrand Russell, Authority and the Individual (London: Allen and Unwin, 1949), 96. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Other Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 9, 55, 53. Ibid., 39 and passim; John Stuart Mill, ‘A Few Words on Non-Intervention’ (1859), in The Ethics of War, eds. Gregory M. Reichberg, Henrik Syse and Endre Begby (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 577. Mill, On Liberty, 14. Mill, ‘A Few Words’, 577. Geoffrey Best, ‘Peace Conferences and the Century of Total War: The 1899 Hague Conference and What Came After’, International Affairs 75, no. 3 (July 1999), 625. Ibid., 626. Theodore Roosevelt, ‘Expansion and Peace’, The Independent, 22 December 1899, reprinted in The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, vol. 12 (New York: P.F. Collier and Sons, 1900), 289. The argument that democracies are not bellicose (commonly known today as ‘democratic peace theory’) has its origins in Kant’s 1795 essay ‘Perpetual Peace’, and is sometimes used to justify war against non-democracies. Ibid., 29. Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography (London: Macmillan, 1913), 49. Duff Cooper, ‘Weapons of War’ (letter to the editor), The Times, 17 July 1929, 17. After Eyres-Monsell announced to the House of Commons that Germany had agreed not to resort to ‘unrestricted submarine warfare’, an article in The Saturday Review repeated the point that war is not governed by Queensberrylike regulations, but ‘jungle law and nothing else’. Boyd Cable, ‘War and ‘‘Jungle Rule’’’, The Saturday Review, 6 July 1935, 841.

Sport in History 421 82.

83. 84.

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85. 86. 87. 88. 89.




93. 94. 95.

96. 97.

98. 99. 100.

‘This government [Neville Chamberlain’s] would rather lose the war under Queensberry rules than do anything unbecoming to an absolutely perfect gentleman. That kind of thing will not do’: Commander R.T. Bower, MP for Cleveland, 8 May 1940, quoted in How to Be a Spy: the World War II SOE Training Manual (1940) (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2001), 1. The book includes a section on how to supplement boxing training by learning to use elbows, knees etc. George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (London: Penguin, 1990), 168. Ibid., 1689. In The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Powell and Pressburger’s 1943 film about an elderly general forced to relinquish a Victorian ethos of ‘clean combat and honest soldiering’, the even more effete National Sporting Club rules are evoked. Joseph Neyer, ‘Is Atomic-Fission Control a Problem in Organizational Technique?’, Ethics 57, no. 4 pt 1 (July 1947), 293. Rear Admiral D.V. Gallery, USN Ret., ‘So You Don’t Remember Pearl Harbor?’, Popular Mechanics, December 1966, 85. Richard Nixon, No More Vietnams (London: W.H. Allen, 1985), 225. David Watts, ‘A Backward Step for Democracy’, The Times, 7 April 1983, 10. David Alton, House of Commons Hansard Debates, 12 December 1991, col. 1020, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199192/cmhansrd/1991-1212/Debate-3.html Hugh Bayley, House of Commons Hansard Debates, 18 May 1998, col. 641, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmhansrd/vo980518/ debtext/80518-18.htm An extreme version of this argument is that employing ‘the method of war’ (according to any rules) makes us ‘like them’. Bertrand Russell, Which Way to Peace? (London: Michael Joseph, 1936), 141. Menzies Campbell, House of Commons Hansard Debates, 16 April 2002, cols. 4812. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/ vo020416/debtext/20416-10.htm H.R. Hahlo and I.A. Maisels, ‘The Rule of Law in South Africa’, Virginia Law Review 52, no. 1 (January 1966), 27. Ibid., 30. General Sir Charles Guthrie, ‘Why NATO Cannot Simply March in and Crush Milosevic’, Evening Standard, 1 April 1999, quoted in Christopher Coker, Humane Warfare (London: Routledge, 2001), 3. Loch K. Johnson, America’s Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 129. ‘Transmittal of Executive Agreements to Congress’, quoted in Francis D. Wormuth and Edwin B. Firmage, To Chain the Dog of War: The War Power of Congress in History and Law, 2nd edn (Urbana. IL: University of Illinois, 1989), 254. Christopher Coker, Ethics and War in the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2008), xii. Maureen Dowd, ‘Liberties: Can Bush Bushkazi?’, New York Times, 28 October 2001. For example, Daniel Gallington, of the Potomac Institute, advised Donald Rumsfield that the US should shift its spying emphasis from ‘high-tech’



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102. 103. 104.

105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110.


K. Boddy snooping to close encounters with locals on the ground  ‘no one expects deceit to be according to the Marquis of Queensberry rules’: Rowan Scarborough, Rumsfeld’s War (Washington, DC: Regency Publishing, 2004), 161. More recently, Porter Goss, Director of CIA 20046, complained that ‘Our enemies do not subscribe to the rules of the Marquess of Queensberry. ‘‘Name, rank and serial number’’ does not apply to non-state actors but is, regrettably, the only question this Administration wants us to ask. Instead of taking risks, our intelligence officers will soon resort to wordsmithing cables to headquarters while opportunities to neutralize brutal radicals are lost’: ‘Security Before Politics’, Washington Post, 23 April 2009. Isabel Hilton. ‘There is No Excuse for This Savagery’, The Guardian, 29 November 2001. Ned Parker, ‘US Orders Coalition Troops to Take Lessons in the Ethics of Battlefield’, The Times, 2 June 2006. Christopher Coker, The Warrior Ethos: Military Culture and the War on Terror (London: Routledge, 2007), 8, 140. ‘Cadets Develop a Fighting Spirit’, New York Times, 9 April 2010. In 1901, a Congressional Committee investigating hazing at West Point interrogated a cadet about the nature of the fist fights conducted at the academy. ‘West Point Rules’ rather than Queensberry Rules were used, meaning that the bareknuckle fights would continue to the finish even if one of the fighters was ‘groggy’  contrary to the law of 41 states: ‘Fighting at West Point’, New York Times, 11 January 1901. Mill, ‘Civilization’, 131. Russell, Authority and the Individual, 22. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 13. Thomas Nagel, ‘War and Massacre’ (1972), in The Ethics of War, eds. Gregory M. Reichberg, Henrik Syse and Endre Begby (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 6567. See Winston Churchill, The Second World War, vol 4: The Hinge of Fate (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), 61319. James O. Murdock, quoted in Joseph L. Kunz, ‘Treatment of Prisoners of War’, Proceedings of the Society of International Law Annual Meeting, vol. 47 (April 1953), 116. See Nagel, ‘War and Massacre’, 6589. Compare G.E.M. Anscombe, who distinguishes the ethical status of ‘murder’ (‘killing the innocent’ civilian population) in natural law from anything covered by ‘the Queensberry Rules’, that is from ‘positive law, written down, agreed upon, and adhered to by the parties concerned’: G.E.M Anscombe, ‘Mr Truman’s Degree’ (1957), in War in the Twentieth-Century, ed. Richard B. Miller (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), 240.

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