From the desk of the Brooklyn Eagle, an analysis of famous fighting men by New York pugilist, Billy Edwards.
The article speaks at length about the age at which a fighter can expect to see serious deterioration of his skills, and juxtaposes that against an upcoming fight between John L. Sullivan and Peter Jackson, a black fighter from Australia that Mr. Edwards refers to as a "giant."
Mr. Edwards, in his expert opinion, believes that a pugilist of the time hit his prime at age 25. Now, none of that is germane to this post, you can read the balance of the article here in the archives of the Brooklyn Eagle now available from the Brooklyn Public Library.
It should be the first of a long list of articles. For what it's worth, those pages from the above link all deal with bare-knuckle prize-fighting in some fashion, between the years of 1840 and 1906.
The reason for this post is to bring to light an early example of the debate or gloves, their size and bare knuckles. This article was evidently written at the time when there was an ever increasing adoption of the Queensberry rules, and consequently, the wearing of gloves. At the time the gloves weighed 4 ounces.
To quote Mr. Edwards:
"In ten years there have been few material changes in the methods of the prize ring. Gloves are now more frequently used and Queensberry rules prevail at the matches. Fighters for knocking out more than they did previously and they take greater chances than before. I regard knocking out as an undesirable feature in the sport. It might not be fair to say that there is not so much real science exhibited nowadays as was formerly the case, but it is undeniable that the use of skin tight gloves as a substitute for bare hands has led to a much rougher style of fighting. If pugilists had only their bare knuckles to fight with they would not go at each other so viciously, and the result would be a more scientific display. You can cut harder with a glove and inflict more damage than with the bare fist, saving your own hand meanwhile, for the glove is a protector also."
So in the above, we see possibly a precursor to the current medical concerns about the use of big gloves in boxing having a greater contribution to TBI and injury in general. Allowing fighters a greater facility with which to hurt each other.
In addition, the above would see to suggest, directly from the horses mouth, the futility of the debate over gloves somehow easing the experience of sparring and fighting realistically. Or, if it does not void that debate, it shows that using those "protective measures" does not in any way lessen the pain or danger for the participants and in fact heightens it.
Mr. Edwards continues:
"And so, in proportion, with a four ounce glove more chances are taken than with a skin tight glove. Each man knows that he is capable of inflicting more damage on his opponent with less risk to himself than if he had no gloves, and that the result is that it becomes dangerous fighting when the avowed purpose is to knock your man out. It would be an improvement on prevalent methods to use less force and more generalship and not to lose sight of the scientific aspect of the sport int he desire to overcome an opponent. As the illustration of the danger a pugilists incurs when he indulges in this desire I ma mention the case of McCaffrey when he fought Farrell in Philadelphia recently. McCaffrey when in to win with a rush and he fought so fiercely that he lost his self-control and the match. A cool head is everything in a fight."
I swear to go if this thread devolves into another sport vs street debacle I'm going to send the person responsible a box of dog ****. This is just an interesting early perspective on the glove debate.