Kasia Boddy has written an unusual history of boxing. Aficionados of contemporary British pugilism may be disappointed that Dr Boddy of University College London is apparently no relation of the Amateur Boxing Association’s spokesman and public relations man, the plainer-speaking Ron Boddy. Ron’s own proud boast is that there are now some 12,000 amateur boxers in the United Kingdom. Taking into account the other 2,000 men who hold professional boxing licences from the British Boxing Board of Control, Dr Boddy may find a curious readership amongst the more thoughtful practitioners, promoters and fans of the fight game.
The author begins her survey in the fourth millennium BC and takes us from ancient Greece to England in the nineteenth century. She tells us of Broughton, Pepys, Cribb, Molineaux and Mendoza, and offers us astute accounts of Byron’s interest in the fight game as well as Hazlitt’s. But the