Honoring Women’s Labor: Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes, 18th Century Boxer!


Honoring women’s labor: Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes, 18th Century Boxer!

As a Labor Day treat, I thought it might be fun to share historical accounts and commentary about Elizabeth Wilkinson Stokes, generally accepted as the first recorded female boxing champion who took her fists and whatever weapons were handy into the streets of London in the early part of the 18th Century!  And yes, that’s 18th Century!

Beginning in the early 1700’s organized “street”-fighting became an early popular form of entertainment in England, and while it had been around even earlier, “bare-knuckle fighting” as it was known then became popularized by James Figg who elevated the sport from one of a working-class free-for-all to a form closer to today’s boxing at his School of Arms and Self Defense.

To quote an article entitled Prize Fighters: Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes: The “London Journal” for June 23, 1722, refers to a battle between “two of…

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