Gentleman John Jackson and his Boxing Saloon—a name and place canonized on the pages of many a Regency tale, and the chosen pastime for many a London gentleman who would not dare sully their hands with work.
How does a pugilist, born to a family of builders, come to bear the name Gentleman Jackson? A bare-knuckle fighter who only fought three times publicly, he only won twice. He managed to take down the reigning champion, Daniel Mendoza, in ten and a half minutes with nary a scratch, to become the champion of England in 1795. Not shabby for three showings.
Moreover, how did a pugilist, who made his living in fighting, manage to enthral the elite of London society? Celebrity. Yes, even the Georgians were susceptible. Combined with unscrupulous manners, elegant dress, and a proper drawl, Jackson found yet another winning combination.
Jackson created rules for the sport, which required using fists alone, rather than the whole-body scrapping, hair holding, and kicking the sport had oft seen in practice. Despite the fact that he instituted some steps towards civilized sport, the matches lasted up to fifty rounds—each round lasting until one fighter was knocked off his feet. It was much later that gloves and shorter, timed rounds were instituted.
Although practising pugilism for sport was well-accepted, holding prize fights and the rowdy crowds and heavy betting that accompanied them was not looked upon favourably by the magistrates. Fights were held far from London, with as many as 20,000 spectators, while bets have been recorded as high as 50,000 pounds.
There is little explanation for why human nature enjoys watching flesh pound flesh. However, John Jackson was a self-made gentleman who capitalised on that very thing.
About the Author
Bestselling author Elizabeth Johns was first an avid reader, though she was a reluctant convert. It was Jane Austen's clever wit and unique turn of phrase that hooked Johns when she was "forced" to read Pride and Prejudice for a school assignment. She began writing when she ran out of her favorite author’s books and decided to try her hand at crafting a Regency romance novel. Her journey into publishing began with the release of Surrender the Past, book one of the Loring-Abbott Series. Johns makes no pretensions to Austen’s wit but hopes readers will perhaps laugh and find some enjoyment in her writing.
Johns attributes much of her inspiration to her mother, a retired English teacher. During their last summer together, Johns would sit on the porch swing and read her stories to her mother, who encouraged her to continue writing. Busy with multiple careers, including a professional job in the medical field, author and mother of small children, Johns squeezes in time for reading whenever possible.
Written content of this post copyright © Elizabeth Johns, 2016.