Have Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate convinced you yet that women’s MMA kicks serious ass? It’s one small step in the road towards WMMA being considered a worthy equal alongside men. This isn’t the first time though that women’s combat sports have seen some success. Head Kick Legend’s John Nash provides us with an impeccable recounting of the history of women’s fighting pre-1900, with a whole bunch of entertaining old-timey quotes featuring fun words like preambulate, virago, and ass-woman (that last one proving there were Ronda Rouseys even back in the 1700s). Some fun little highlights:
Martin Nogue documented in 1728 in his “Voyages et Avantures” [EN 1] of seeing women and girls fighting the same as the men, including being stripped from the waist up: “Des femrnes des filles même combattent de la même forte, dépouillées jusqu à la ceinture.”
Later countrymen would look back in horror at the popularity and acceptance such a “sport” held with their predecessors:
“The most revolting and disgusting spectacles of this kind were prizefights in which women were the competitors for the stakes, and, half-naked, battered and bruised each other, without cause or provocation, to the heart’s delight of a “respectable” circle of beholders! Under date June 22nd 1768 we read Wednesday last, two women fought for a new chemise valued at half a guinea, in the Spa fields, near Islington. The battle was won by a woman called ‘Bruising Peg’, who beat her antagonist in a terrible manner.” [EN2]
Now hand over that champion’s chemise! Unfortunately it is unknown whether Bruising Peg ever managed to win a smock as well and unify the women’s undergarments.
In 1795, the legendary champions Daniel Mendoza and ‘Gentleman” John Jackson even acted as seconds in a fight for a prize of 11 guineas between Mrs. Mary Ann Fielding and a woman known only as the “Jewess of Wentworth Street”. For that sum the two fought for 80 minutes during which there was over 70 knockdowns between them.
Which Jewess? Why the Jewess of Wentworth Street of course! She’s got a tart right but is no Moslem of Melbourne Road, I say.
“CHALLENGE. – I, Elizabeth Wilkinson of Clerkenwell, having had some words with Hannah Hyfield, and requiring satisfaction, do invite her to meet me upon the stage, and box me for three guineas; each woman holding half-a-crown in each hand, and the first woman that drops the money to lose the battle.
ANSWER. – I, Hannah Hyfield, of Newgate Market, hearing of the resoluteness of Elizabeth Wilkinson, will not fail, God willing, to give her more blows than words, desiring home blows and from her no favour: she may expect a good thumping” [EN4]
That’s a badass special rule with the coin right there. I’m amazed Japan never did something like that. Check out the entire article, it’s a great read and ya might learn something. Something useless. But isn’t that what the internet is all about?