Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 7, 1891: Jab

NEW ORLEANS - Professional boxing matches before the 1890s were generally nothing more than organized street brawls. Two men pounded on each other, with no gloves, until one either gave up or couldn't get up. That started to change after the publication of the Marquess of Queensberry rules were published, standardizing the rules in an attempt to make the sport less dangerous and barbaric.

Though there were only 14 points listed in the original Queensberry rules, the standard rules of boxing today follow them almost exactly. Among the changes were the introduction of gloves, rules for who could and who could not be in the ring during a fight, and standard definitions of knockouts.

The title fight between the undefeated John L. Sullivan and challenger James J. Corbett was not the first title fight fought under the Queensberry rules, but it was certainly the first famous one. More than 10,000 people crammed into the Olympic Club in New Orleans, playing between $5 and $15 per ticket ($117-$353 in today's dollars).

Though using the fairly new Queensberry rules, the fight was also noteworthy for Corbett's fighting style. Corbett was among the first fighters to use a true technique while boxing; during this fight, he countered Sullivan's crouch-and-charge style with short, quick jabs, the first time that punch had been used in a fight. His quick punches wore Sullivan down over time. In the 21st round, Corbett knocked Sullivan out, winning the heavyweight championship.

September 7, 1953: NEW YORK - Though only 19 years old, Maureen Connelly was still one of the most accomplished female tennis players in the world in 1953. She punctuated her young career with her third straight victory in the U.S. Open, in the process becoming the first woman to win all four Grand Slam events in the same year. It would be her last U.S. Open, however, as the next summer, the horse she was riding was struck by a cement truck. Connelly suffered a broken leg so severe that she could never play tennis again.

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