Boxing booth

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Boxing booths "peppered the English countryside for over 200 years. These booths traveled with fairs and circuses throughout England, and provided an entertainment staple.

Boxing booth, with Freddie Mills (far left) and Sam McKeowen (with microphone)

"Modern boxing as we know it was birthed in England. Since a major venue for exhibiting entertainment was the fair (or carnival) it was inevitable that boxers, too, would display on the fairgrounds. Thus from the time of Figg in the 1700s, the boxing booth was a common and popular fixture. By the 1920s, traveling with a boxing booth was an accepted form of gaining experience and of staying in shape.

"The boxing booth itself was a large tent with a false front painted with extravagant boxing scenes.... Inside the booth, fighters would await challenges from the audience.... If none volunteered, it was not uncommon for a 'plant' in the audience to issue a challenge and climb into the ring. The fighters would also fight exhibitions and bouts with other fighters.

"So, for example, in 1910, you could attend a carnival in the English countryside. You would stroll along and visit the various side-shows with the every popular fat lady or view Teeny Tiny Tony, the World's Smallest Pony. You could then enter the boxing booth. After the barker made sure that the tent was packed and all had paid admission, you could climb into the ring against a scrawny teenager who weighed no more than 105 pounds. And then Jimmy Wilde would kick your ass! If that wasn't worth 6d admission, you could move onto another town and watch Bobby Dobbs beat up somebody else."

The above is courtesy of Book Review: A Fair Fight by Vanessa Toulmin (World's Fair Pub.:1999), reviewed by Mike DeLisa of the CyberBoxingZone: [1].

Booth-fighting died out circa 1970s. Today most non-British Boxing Board of Control boxing takes place in workingmen's clubs.