Such was prize-fighting’s appeal during the 18th and 19th centuries that, at its zenith, the sport was patronised by royalty and aristocracy and, notwithstanding its illegality, its contests often attracted thousands of spectators from all walks of life. Up to Scratch covers bare knuckle fighting from early English stage bouts to boxing’s transitional period between knuckles and gloves. Although concentrating mainly on a region, then just north of the metropolis, which was a favourite venue of the London prize-ring, it is essentially an anecdotal account of what was unquestionably one of England’s most dramatic sporting pastimes. Included are tales of some of the great champions – Tom Johnson, Daniel Mendoza, Jem Belcher, Tom Sayers and Jem Mace – as well as many forgotten, but no less colourful, fistic heroes. Up to Scratch powerfully evokes an age when pugilism was a barbaric, corrupt and yet primarily noble activity which makes today’s boxing look positively tame by comparison. During five years of extensive research through contemporary newspapers, Tony Gee has uncovered a considerable amount of hitherto unpublished material relating to the prize-ring and life around the sport. An experienced kick boxer and martial artist, Tony Gee’s avid interest in boxing stems from a very early age and his fascination with prize-fighting has led to years of extensive research. He is a contributor on this subject to the New Dictionary of National Biography and is now considered one of the country’s leading historians of the prize-ring. Tony Gee was born in Finchley, North London, and now lives nearby in Potters Bar.

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