WHILE grainy, colourless footage shot with archaic cameras can never do justice to the likes of Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney and Joe Louis, at least we have glimpses of their fighting lives preserved on film. So spare a thought for the countless boxing heroes who preceded the age of film and photography. Without visual proof of their existence, from a modern perspective their careers can seem like fairytale legends, akin to the stories of Greek mythology. Unlike the protagonists of those ancient Greek fables however, these men were real. To know about them we rely on written accounts. But how many modern fights fans have the time or tendency to leaf through decaying centuries-old newspapers in search of nuggets of information about bare-knuckle boxers?
One writer who does is Lawrence Davies, and his efforts have spawned three meticulously researched books on Welsh pugilism. The first, Mountain Fighters, explored the lives and times of those bare-fisted hard men who fought on the mountains of Wales when prize-fighting was an illicit activity. The second, Jack Scarrott’s Prize Fighters, focuses on an influential boxing booth showman who assisted such legendary figures as Jim Driscoll and Jimmy Wilde on their paths to glory.
Subscribe now to keep reading
We're chuffed you’re enjoying our website, but I'm afraid you need to be a subscriber to read this story.
As a subscriber you'll get access to all online content, including weekly issues - you can opt for digital only or print and digital - plus an online archive of weekly digital editions back to January 2012.
You'll also be helping to support our editorial independence so we can continue to get to the heart of the stories that truly matter to you, the reader. Every subscription we secure will go directly to ensuring that Boxing News retains its voice for many years to come.
If you're not ready to subscribe there are plenty of free articles on the site you can enjoy by registering
To enjoy premium content such as this story, and to get the weekly issue you will need to subscribe
Got an account? Sign in