London Prize Ring Rules of 1838
(which succeeded and built upon the Broughton Rules of 1743)
1) That the ring shall
be made on turf, and shall be four-and-twenty feet square, formed of
eight stakes and ropes, the latter extending in double lines, the
uppermost line being four feet from the ground, the lower two feet from
the ground. That in the centre of the ring a mark be formed, to be
termed a scratch; and that at two opposite corners, as may be selected,
spaces be inclosed by other marks sufficiently large for the reception
of the seconds and bottle holders, to be entitled "the corners."
2) That each
man shall be attended to the ring by a second and a
bottle-holder, the former provided with a sponge, and the latter
with a bottle of water. That the combatants, on shaking hands,
shall retire until the seconds of each have tossed for
choice of position; which adjusted, the winner shall choose his
corner according to the state of the wind or sun, and conduct
his man thereto, the loser taking the opposite corner.
3) That each
man shall be provided with a handkerchief of a colour suitable
to his own fancy, and that the seconds proceed to entwine these
handkerchiefs at the upper end of one of the centre stakes. That
these handkerchiefs shall be called "the colours;" and that the
winner of the battle at its conclusion shall be entitled to
their possession, as the trophy of victory.
4) That two
umpires shall then be chosen by the seconds to watch the
progress of the battle, and take exception to any breach of the
rules hereafter stated. That a referee shall be chosen by the
umpires, to whom all disputes shall be referred; and that the
decision of this referee, whatever it may be, shall be final and
strictly binding on all parties, whether as to the matter in
dispute or the issue of the battle. That the umpires shall be
provided with a watch, for the purpose of calling time; and that
they mutually agree upon which this duty shall devolve, the call
of that umpire only to be attended to, and no other person
whatever to interfere in calling time. That the referee shall
withhold all opinion till appealed to by the umpires, and that
the umpires strictly abide by his decision without dispute.
5) That on the
men being stripped, it shall be the duty of the seconds to
examine their shoes and drawers, and if any objection arises
either as to insertion of improper spikes in the former, or
substances in the latter, they shall appeal to their umpires,
who, with the concurrence of the referee, shall direct if any
and what alteration shall be made.
6) That both
men being ready, each man shall be conducted to that side of the
scratch next his corner previously chosen; and the seconds on
the one side, and the men on the other, having shaken hands, the
former shall immediately return to their corners, and there
remain within the prescribed marks till the round be finished,
on no pretence whatever approaching their principals during the
round, on penalty of losing the battle.
7) That at the
conclusion of the round, when one or both of the men are down,
the seconds and bottle-holders shall step forward and carry or
conduct their principal to his corner, there affording him the
necessary assistance, and that no person whatever be permitted
to interfere in this duty.
8) That at the
expiration of thirty seconds (unless otherwise agreed upon) the
umpire appointed shall cry "time," upon which each man shall
rise from the knee of his bottle-holder and walk to his own side
of the scratch unaided, the seconds and bottle-holders remaining
at their corners; and that either man failing so to be at the
scratch within eight seconds, shall be deemed to have lost the
9) That on no
consideration whatever shall any person be permitted to enter
the ring during the battle, or till it shall have been
concluded; and that in the event of such unfair practice, or the
ropes and stakes being disturbed or removed, it shall be in the
power of the umpires and referee to award the victory to that
man who in their honest opinion shall have the best of the
10) That the
seconds and bottle-holders shall not interfere, advise, or
direct the adversary of their principal, and shall refrain from
all offensive or irritating expressions, in all respects
conducting themselves with order and decorum, and confine
themselves to the diligent and careful discharge of their duties
to their principals.
11) That in
picking up their men, should the seconds or bottle-holders
wilfully injure the antagonist of their principals, he shall be
deemed to have forfeited the battle, on the decision of the
umpires or referee.
12) That it
shall be "a fair stand-up fight," and if either man shall
wilfully thrown himself down without receiving a blow, he shall
be deemed to have lost the battle; but that this rule shall not
apply to a man who in a close slips down from the grasp of his
opponent to avoid punishment.
butting with the head shall be deemed foul, and the party
resorting to this practice shall be deemed to have lost the
14) That a blow
struck when a man is thrown or down, shall be deemed foul. That
a man with one knee and one hand on the ground, or with both
knees on the ground, shall be deemed down; and a blow given in
either of those positions shall be considered foul, providing
always, that when in such position, the man so down shall not
himself strike or attempt to strike.
15) That a blow
struck below the waistband shall be deemed foul, and that, in a
close, seizing an antagonist below the waist, by the thigh or
otherwise, shall be deemed foul.
16) That all
attempts to inflict injury by gouging, or tearing the flesh with
the fingers or nails, and biting shall be deemed foul.
kicking, or deliberately falling on an antagonist with the knees
or otherwise when down, shall be deemed foul.
18) That all
bets shall be paid as the battle-money after a fight is awarded.
19) That no
person on any pretence whatever shall be permitted to approach
nearer the ring than ten feet, with the exception of the umpires
and referee, and the persons appointed to take charge of the
water or other refreshment for the combatants, who shall take
their seats close to the corners selected by the seconds.
20) That due
notice shall be given by the stake-holder of the day and place
where the battle-money is to be given up, and that he be
exonerated from all responsibility upon obeying the direction of
the umpires and referee; and that all parties be strictly bound
by these rules; and that in future all articles of agreement for
a contest be entered into with a strict and willing adherence to
the letter and spirit of these rules, and without reserve or
21) That in the
event of magisterial interference, it shall be the duty of the
umpires and referee to name the time and place for the next
meeting, if possible on the same day.
22) That should
the event not be decided on the day named, all bets shall be
deemed void, unless again declared on by mutual agreement: but
that the battle-money shall remain in the hands of the
stake-holder till fairly won or lost by a fight, unless each
party shall agree to withdraw his stake.
23) That all
stage fights be as nearly as possible in conformity with the
Dowling], Fistiana; or, The Oracle of the Ring. Comprising a
Defence of British Boxing; A Brief History of Pugilism, from the
earliest ages to the present period; Practical Instructions for
Training; together with Chronological Tables of Prize Battles,
from 1780 to 1840 inclusive, alphabetically arranged with the
issue of each event. Scientific Hints on Sparring, etc. etc.
etc. By the Editor of Bell's Life in London (London: Published
By Wm. Clement, Jun., 1841), 63-66