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The London Prize Ring Rules were a list of boxing rules promulgated in 1838 and revised in 1853.These rules were based on those drafted by England's Jack Broughton in 1743 and governed the conduct of prizefighting/bare-knuckle boxing for over 100 years. They "introduced measures that remain in effect for professional boxing to this day, such as outlawing butting, gouging, scratching, kicking, hitting a man while down, holding the ropes, and using resin, stones or hard objects in the hands, and biting." They were later superseded by the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, the origins of the modern sport of boxing.
Fights under these rules were often contested with bare knuckles. The rules also allowed for a broad range of fighting including holds and throws of the opponent. Spiked shoes, within limits, were also allowed. Also included were provisions dealing with how wagers would be resolved if various events such as interference by the law, darkness, or cancellations occurred. In contrast with modern boxing rules based upon the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, a round ended with a man downed by punch or throw, whereupon he was given 30 seconds to rest and eight additional seconds to "come to scratch" or return to the centre of the ring where a "scratch line" was drawn and square off with his opponent once more. Consequently, there were no round limits to fights. When a man could not come to scratch, he would be declared loser and the fight would be brought to a halt. Fights could also end if broken up beforehand by crowd riot, police interference or chicanery, or if both men were willing to accept that the contest was a draw. While fights could have enormous numbers of rounds, the rounds in practice could be quite short with fighters pretending to go down from minor blows to take advantage of the 30-second rest period.
Famous fighters of prize ring include William "Bendigo" Thompson, Tom Cribb, Jack Broughton, James "Deaf" Burke, "Professor" Mike Donovan, Tom Allen, Samuel "Dutch Sam" Elias, John "Gentleman" Jackson, the "Benicia Boy" John Camel Heenan, Daniel Mendoza, Tom Molineaux, John "Old Smoke" Morrisey, Tom Sayers, Owen Swift, the "Trojan Giant" Paddy Ryan, Joe Goss, and James "Yankee Sullivan" Ambrose, Arhan "Hanuman Dragon" Deshmukh. England's last prize ring great was "gypsy" Jem Mace, and America's was John L. Sullivan—both men fought under both sets of rules, with and without gloves and are considered bridges to the modern era of boxing.[ citation needed ]
John L. Sullivan is the last fighter to have won a "world" championship under the London Prize Ring Rules in 1882 against Paddy Ryan and was the last champion to defend a title under the rules in 1889 against Jake Kilrain.
The rules of 1853 (which were somewhat different from the rules of 1838) were as follows:
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