The Art of Manual Defence; or, System of Boxing: Perspicuously Explained in a Series of Lessons, and Illustrated by Plates. By a Pupil both of Humphreys and Mendoza.
The Art of Manual Defence; or, System of Boxing: Perspicuously Explained in a Series of Lessons, and Illustrated by Plates. By a Pupil both of Humphreys and Mendoza. London: Printed for G. Kearsley, 1789Description
Second edition, 12mo, xxxv, [1, blank], 133, [11, index]pp., with half-title, engraved frontispiece and nine additional full-page engravings showing two boxers fighting (perhaps Dan Mendoza and Richard Humphries), demonstrating the various boxing techniques taught in the text, some light off-setting, a few pages have been trimmed up to the text, especially at the fore-edge, but with no loss, early paper endpapers, nicely bound in full calf, hand sewn headbands, hand tooled edges, hand lettered spine.Bibliography
Hartley, 1578; Extremely rare, ESTC locates a single copy of the first edition at Yale which is tentatively dated 1784, and two copies of this second edition at the British Library and Yale.Footnote
The author of this guide indicates he seeks to appeal specifically to the gentleman wanting to protect himself from 'the insolence so peculiar to the manners of the lower order of people in this country.' But he has special advice for professional practitioners of the pugilistic art, with hints for preparing for a scheduled fight which include taking 'a pint of best red wine mulled, with a tablespoonful of brandy' on the morning itself. This manual was written at an important juncture in the sport, and focuses on two practitioners who impelled boxing forward greatly - Daniel Mendoza and Richard "The Gentleman Boxer" Humphries, who famously fought three bare-knuckle bouts between 1788 and 1790 (the third of which was the first time spectators were charged an entry-payment to a sporting event). Before Mendoza, boxers generally stood still and merely swapped punches. Mendoza's 'scientific style' consisted of more than simply battering opponents into submission and included much defensive movement. He developed an entirely new style of boxing, incorporating such defensive strategies as what he called 'side-stepping,' moving around, ducking, blocking, and generally avoiding punches. At the time, this was revolutionary, and Mendoza was able to overcome much heavier opponents as a result of this new style. Though he stood only five feet seven inches and weighed only 160 pounds, Mendoza was England's sixteenth Heavyweight Champion from 1792 to 1795, and is the only middleweight to ever win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Mendoza helped transform the popular English stereotype of a Jew from a weak, defenceless person into someone deserving of respect. He is said to have been the first Jew to talk to the King, George III. Mendoza was second for Tom Molineaux, a freed Virginia slave, in his fights. In 1789 - the year this book was issued in London - he opened his own boxing academy there.Price