Jem Mace: the bare knuckle Heavyweight Legend
Only the most diligent boxing fans, followers and historians are aware of the true pioneers of the sweet science; those who laid the groundwork for the sport to become a favorite for generations to come.We are going to tell the story of one of the more fabled of these competitors.
Jem Mace was a 19th-century bare-knuckle boxing champion and is considered by many to be one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport.
Although Mace mostly competed under London Prize Ring rules, he did, in fact, once box Archibald William Douglas, the father of John Douglas, who established the Marquess of Queensbury rules for boxing.
Born in England in 1831, Jem began his professional boxing career in the mid-1850s and quickly established himself as one of the top fighters of his era. Throughout his career, Jem fought and defeated many of the best fighters of the time, including Tom Allen, Joe Goss and Tom King. Along the way he captured English titles in the welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight divisions. Even in this era of fighters casually moving up from one division to the next, that’s something you don’t see done.
Many fighters in the bare-knuckle era were conspicuously brutish. Jem’s style in the ring was characterized by his superior technical skills and his ability to use his intelligence and cunning to outmaneuver his opponents. He was known for his fast footwork and his ability to deliver quick, powerful punches. Jem’s defensive skills were also top-notch, and he was able to avoid taking too many hits from his opponents. He was known as a “scientific” boxer.
One of Jem’s most notable achievements was his victory over Tom Allen in 1870, which earned him the title of bare-knuckle heavyweight champion of the world. This fight was widely regarded as one of the greatest bare-knuckle contests of all time, and it cemented Jem’s place in the pantheon of boxing greats. It was also his first fight in the United States, and he would compete several more times on American soil.
Despite his success in the ring, Jem was also known for his sportsmanship and his commitment to fairness in the sport of boxing. He was a strong advocate for using in the sport, which he believed would help to reduce the risk of serious injury to fighters. Jem’s efforts to promote the use of gloves in boxing eventually paid off, and the sport slowly evolved to adopt the use of gloves as a standard practice.
Jem was a man of many talents. He played the violin with a considerable degree of ability. He was also very active playing the games of chance, and is said to have lost almost his entire fortune. Maybe that is why he continued to box exhibitions long after he officially retired. In fact, he was reportedly involved in an exhibition bout in 1909, at the age of 78.
He was always a popular figure in the world of boxing, and he was widely regarded as a role model and an ambassador for the sport.
In addition to all of this, Jem was also known for his contributions to the wider world. He was a strong supporter of the temperance movement and was an active member of the Total Abstinence Society. He also worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of the working class, using his influence and his wealth to support various causes and organizations that aimed to improve the lives of ordinary people.
Jem Mace passed away in 1910, but his legacy lives on to this day. He is remembered as one of the greatest bare-knuckle boxers of all time and as a true champion of the sport. His contributions to the world of boxing and his unwavering commitment to fair play, sportsmanship, and the well-being of his fellow man continue to inspire generations of boxing fans and athletes alike.