Round 8 - Men O' War

Egan was eager to emphasise the martial aspects of contests, implying that most pugilists, regardless of previous education or profession, were capable of deploying military-style tactics in their efforts to outmanoeuvre their opponent. Boxiana I was a departure from the staid reports of Pancratia (1812), fighters being portrayed as individuals with background information. They were also alluded to in elevated terms befitting classical heroes, or in explicitly favourable comparisons, imbuing the action with a sense of the gladiatorial amphitheatre. Analogies would be made between pugilists and contemporary military leaders, thus augmenting the heroic image of the sport and its participants.
It is not only Egan who constantly cited the military benefits to be derived from men undertaking pugilistic training, or sparring. Once honed, it is envisaged that the places where this ‘manly’ science will prove vital are the battlefields of Europe.
A Fancy contributor, Tom Reynolds, claimed that the influence of prizefighting extended beyond the inculcation of martial hardiness: ‘exhibitions of this kind have their good effects, which can be traced to us as a nation, and, independent of fighting, influence other actions’ (Book of Sports). Egan does not curtail his recommendation to pugilism alone, and includes ‘all those manly amusements, both in the environs of the Metropolis, and in the country, which strengthen the sinews, summon up the generous blood, and characterise the English-man above the inhabitants of every other nation’.


The Battle of the Nile (August 1798)

Scene at Aboukir Bay(mouth of the Nile), where Nelson’s fleet routed the French.