James Giago Davies: Boxing was once encouraged among youth

James Giago Davies. Photo from Native Sun News

A brief history of the fight game
Clearing up some misconceptions
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Columnist

Oglala author Ed McGaa told me of a time, some 70 years ago, when he gloved up and boxed noted Oglala journalist Tim Giago.

“He won,” Ed told me. “They matched us up because we were the same size, but to be fair, he was older than me.” Giago recalls that he flattened McGaa with a left hook.

In those days, boxing was something school kids were encouraged to participate in. Lakota like McGaa and Giago displayed a knack for the “sweet science,” but even back then, in a remote part of the country like western South Dakota, gyms which taught the basic skills knowledgeably were already fast disappearing.

Organized prize fighting began in England several centuries back. A lord might match his bullnecked coachman, Bill, against his cousin’s cat quick farrier, Jim, and then all the gentry would wager heavily on the outcome. Bouts were bareknuckle, inside a roped square, and fighters could wrestle and throw, but could not kick, strike a blow below the waist, or bite, gouge, scratch or head butt. Hair pulling was legal, so most shaved their heads before a bout.

There were no judges, no scoring, just a single referee. A round ended whenever a fighter went down for any reason, and the bout did not end until a fighter failed to “make scratch,” could not walk from his corner unassisted and place his toes against a line. Hence the expression, “toe the line.”

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: A brief history of the fight game

(James Giago Davies can be reached at skindiesel@msn.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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