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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Hereford and Worcester

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Myths and Legends
Tom "Light Tapper" Spring
Spring was all sinew and muscle

© Courtesy of Jon Hurley
Spring by name and spring by nature

Spring was not just a bare knuckle fighter; he was the All England Bare Knuckle prize fighting Champion.

Sporting historians generally agree that fist fighting has been around for over 6000 years. Originating in Ethiopia, its popularity spread through North Africa and into the Mediterranean countries. The Romans introduced the use of a ring, or marked circle on the ground, to identify the fighting area, but after the fall of Rome, the sport faded in popularity.

The sport re-surfaced in England in the late 17th Century as a mix of knuckle fighting and wrestling, but was in need of regulating. Into the ring stepped the "Father of English Boxing": Jack Broughton. He was a fighter of some note, and in 1743, as a result of one of his opponents dying in the ring, he established the first rules that all fighters were to abide by.

He brought a sense of fairness to fights, some of which lasted for anything up to 80 or 90 rounds – it seems that the modern day fighter has an easy life. Rounds were not of any fixed time, but the fighters had a fresh "set-to" if either of them fell. The fallen fighter would be given half a minute to recover and be brought up to the scratch (the scratched fighting border line on the ground) by their Second, or attendant – maybe that is where the term "up to scratch" comes from?

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