Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boxing's Most Celebrated: Hattie Leslie

More than a century ago, when the Police Gazette was the Sports Illustrated of its time, that title belonged to Mrs. Hattie Leslie, the first publicly recognized women's boxing champion, whose reign and life ended at age 23 in a Milwaukee hotel room.
Hattie won her championship in a match against Alice Leary on Sept. 16, 1888. The bout was held covertly in a barn near Buffalo, N.Y., Leslie's hometown, for the American women's title and a purse of $250.
What the New York Times decried as a "disgraceful prize fight" lasted seven rounds, or about one-half hour.about one-half hour. The almost 5-foot-8, 175-pound Leslie had 20 pounds on Leary, and battered her until the latter's corner threw in the towel to end it.

Over the next four years, Mrs. Leslie -- admiringly described in the Gazette as "the "famous Amazon who has made quite a name and gained considerable reputation as a boxer" and "a tall, powerful specimen of humanity" -- had a standing challenge out to defend her title against all comers. But since female boxers were only slightly more plentiful at the time than one-legged clog dancers, Hattie spent most of her time demonstrating her ring skills on the vaudeville circuit instead of in real fights.

Details of the match: Alice Leary vs Hattie Leslie

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