Figure 1.23

The Popularity of Pugilism

The Boxing Cats

Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, W.K.L. Dickson; USA, 1894

Corbett and Courtney before the Kinetograph

Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, W.K.L. Dickson; USA, 1894

Gordon Sisters Boxing

Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; Edison Manufacturing Co.; USA, 1901

See the moving  
Picture

See the moving  
Picture

See the moving  
Picture

Boxing was a popular spectator sport in the 1890s (especially, of course, among men). Because it featured plenty of nonstop action, it was also a natural subject for moving pictures. In the center is a series of images from Corbett and Courtney before the Kinetograph, which Dickson filmed for the Kinetoscope Exhibition Co. in 1894. The film was planned for six rounds, with Corbett, the former heavyweight champion, purportedly promised a substantial bonus if he waited until the sixth to knock out his opponent. (He did.) The pervasiveness of boxing as pop-cultural entertainment is evident in the two other films represented here. At the top is The Boxing Cats, a variety-stage act filmed in the Black Maria in 1894. At the bottom is an Edison rendition of a well-known vaudeville act, Gordon Sisters Boxing (1901), which combined pugilism with the spectacle of immodestly dressed women behaving in a provocative (or at least unseemly) fashion.

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