The Bruising Business: Pugilism, Commercial Culture, and Celebrity, 1700 – 1750

Benjamin Litherland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Numerous writers have explored boxing's roots, and the sport's most successful performers during the eighteenth century - James Figg, Jack Broughton, Daniel Mendoza, amongst others - are names that consistently reappear throughout these texts. This chapter explores the manner in which myths were constructed, distributed and disseminated. The aim of this chapter is to place pugilism and its promotion into the wider social, cultural and economic context of the early eighteenth century. The chapter sketches the social and economic changes that were taking place in London and England in the first half of the eighteenth century. It then analyses the relationship between pugilism and advertising in greater detail. The shift from bear gardens to boxing amphitheatres offers an illuminating case study to track the growing commercialisation of leisure and their forms of promotion. The arrival of boxing amphitheatres and the celebrities they fostered were the consequences of the radical changes in society, in the economy and politics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSports and Physical Exercise in Early Modern Culture
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on the History of Sports and Motion
EditorsRebekka von Mallinckrodt, Angela Schattner
Place of PublicationAbingdon & New York
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315610443, 9781317051015
ISBN (Print)9781472411945
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016


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