‘Robust fighting’ versus ‘scientific boxing’

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 4 (July/August 2012), Volume 20

Melbourne 1956 silver medallist Fred Tiedt—his controversial loss to Romanian Nicolae Linca in the welter final was widely derided. The renowned boxing author and editor of Ring magazine, Nat Fleischer, described it as ‘the most disgraceful decision I have ever witnessed’. (Irish Photo Archive)

Melbourne 1956 silver medallist Fred Tiedt—his controversial loss to Romanian Nicolae Linca in the welter final was widely derided. The renowned boxing author and editor of Ring magazine, Nat Fleischer, described it as ‘the most disgraceful decision I have ever witnessed’. (Irish Photo Archive)

‘Robust fighting’ versus ‘scientific boxing’The calibre of officials appointed to judge the boxing bouts was a perennial problem. Discontent often centred around a perceived disparity between the evaluation of ‘robust fighting’ versus ‘scientific boxing’. A.P. McWeeney, wiring from Amsterdam 1928, remarked: ‘The combination of racial prejudice and ignorance of the rules seems an insuperable barrier to successful Olympic tournaments’. Reports from ‘expert and impartial critics’ indicated, according to the Irish Times, that ‘many of the decisions, based on ferocity rather than on skill, were grotesque . . . and on several occasions the police were invoked to quell the fury of disappointed partisans’. The Fédération Internationale de Boxe Amateur (FIBA) promptly issued new rules: the referee (who also judged) was now to be inside the ring, the two judges on opposite sides. The Press Association reported that ‘the whole Olympic tournament has been nothing but a scandalous travesty of a thoroughly wholesome sport’.

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