Prize-fighting and the crown law: Through a study
          of the criminal cases in nineteenth-century England

        Yoshiaki MATSUI (Nara National Colledge of Technology)


 Many historians of sport point out that prize-fighting was regarded as to be unlawful in nineteenth
-century England. However they have never written systematically what kinds of guilty to criminal
charges were applied in the cases of prize-fights. The purpose of this study is to clarify the illegality
of prize-fighting through judicial precedents of prize-fights. I selected the cases from A Treatise on
Crimes and Misdemeanors, 6th ed, (1896) by Sir Wm. Oldnall Russell, and referred to the original law
 During the first half of the nineteenth century, the justices generally applied the criminal charges of
breach of peace (unlawful assembly, rout, riot, &c.) and, in particular cases that caused the deceased,
manslaughter to the defendants in the cases of prize-fights. And in addition, following points were
marked in the cases of Reg.v.Orton and others, 14 Cox 226 (1878), and Reg.v.Coney and others, 8 Q.
B.D. 534 (1882).
 @ A prize-fight is illegal.
 A The Consent of the persons actually engaged in fighting to the interchange of blows does not
  afford any answer to the criminal charge of assault.
 B If the parties met intending to fight till one gave in from exhaustion or injury received, it was a
  breach of the law and a prize-fight, whether the combatants fought in gloves or not.
 C Mere voluntary presence at a fight does not as a matter of law necessarily render persons so
  present guilty of an assault as aiding and abetting in such fight.
  I suggested that the illegality of prizefighting was clearly declared by the application of the
  criminal charge of assault (or manslaughter) to the parties, though there was no legislation that
  directly prohibited prize-fighting in England.