HATTIE MADDENS EN HATTIE STEWART
Over Hattie Maddens, bijgenaamd ‘The Mad Hatter’, werd in het bijschrift van de foto vermeld dat ze in 1883 de weinig begerenswaardige titel The Most Scary Woman in the UK won en werd verder opgemerkt dat ze de enige vrouw die ooit wereldkampioen boxen in het zwaargewicht was door in 1883, ik veronderstel dat ze daaraan de reputatie van meest angstaanjagende Britse vrouw te danken had, in een onderling gevecht de Schotse pugilist Wee Willy Harris in de eerste ronde knock-out te slaan. Ze zou verder de zachtaardigheid zelve zijn geweest en zich na haar afscheid uit de ring in Ierland hebben gevestigd om veeboer te worden. Er kunnen grote vraagtekens bij dat kampioen-schap worden gezet, want in geen enkele lijst komt haar naam voor en ook Wee Willy Harris is nergens in de archieven te bespeuren. Wel documentatie dat de Amerikaanse bokser John Lawrence Sullivan (Roxbury, 15 oktober 1858 – Abington, 2 februari 1918) van 1882 tot 1892 algemeen wordt gezien als de eerste wereldkampioen zwaargewicht in de moderne geschiedenis. dat is precies in de overgangsperiode van het boksen met blote vuisten naar boksen met handschoenen volgens de Marquess of Queensberry rules. Sullivan’s gevecht in 1889 in New Orleans tegen Jake Kilrain (die in ronde 75 van de 80 moest opgeven) was het laatste zwaargewichtgevecht met blote handen. Ook wel de opmerking gevonden dat het voor vrouwen verboden was in het professionele boksen mee te doen, zodat hun optreden zich beperkten tot het vaudeville-circuit. De opmerkelijke kledij van Maddens lijkt ook wel aan gegeven dat ze meer een circusact was dan een serieuze beoefenaar van ‘the nobble art of selfdefense’.
Er waren daarbij twee gerenommeerde vrouwelijke boksers die de bijnaam ‘Female John L. Sullivan’ kregen: Hattie Stewart en Hattie Leslie. Laatstgenoemde zou in 1892 onverwachts aan buiktyfus overlijden toen ze op toernee was. Dat Hattie Stewart een tante was om rekening mee te houden spreekt al voldoende uit nevenstaande foto, waarop een lezer van het Amerikaanse niet kon nalaten op gte merken dat Hattie zeker niet achteraan had gestaan toen de benen werden uitgedeeld. Stewaert en Leslie lijken de twee enige boksers te zijn geweest die wel op professionele basis in de rug stonden, zowel tegen vrouwen als mannen. Beidenzouden elkaar nooit in cde ring treffen. Wel was er op 16 september 1888 in Buffalo een stevig gevecht tussen Hattie Leslie en Alice Leary, waarover het New Yotkse blad The World een dag later verslag deed:
‘WOMEN FIGHT IN THE RING.
A DISGRACEFUL MATCH BETWEEN AMAZONS NEAR BUFFALO.
At an early hour this morning a seven-round prize-fight with skin-tight kid gloves took place on Navy Island, near this city, between Alice Leary, of Bradford, and Hattie Leslie, of Buffalo. The latter won after half-hour’s fighting, in which both were severely if not seriously punished.The battle was made for $250 a side and the gate money. When morning dawned the rain was falling as copiously as ever, but the girls did not back out. they were ready to fight in mill-pond, if necessary. The party landed at the very spot which has been made famous by three of Billy Baker’s fights. The old landmarks of a ring were viaible, but the grass was too wet to stake out a ring on the turf. Near by was a deserted house and a barn nearly filled with oats. The crowd took hold and improvised pitchforks and soon cleared away the rubbish, leaving a space large enough for the set-to, and here the fight was held regardless of weather.
Hattie Leslie has been sparring in public with her husband John for a year and a half past. She is twenty years old and weighs about 200 pounds ordinarily. She had trained down and stripped at 180. She is a fine-looking girl, with brown hair, blue eyes and clear complexion. Her experience with gloves and superiority in weight gave her considerable advantage. Alice Leary is a strong, healthy serio-comic, about twenty-five years old, who came here from Bradford to work in a variety theatre, and who has a local reputation as a dumb-bell and Indian club performer. She was trained by Billy Baker, a local champion pugilist. She has a celtic cast of countanance and an abundance of dark brown hair. She stripped at 148 pounds, and was not trained down fine enough at that.
It was a little after 8 o’clock when Mrs. Leslie made her appearance in the barn, and one minute later her adversary followed. Both wore white skirts. which enveloped their nether limbs, shawis about their waists and had towels thrown over their heads. A few moments decided the choice of referee to be Jack Leonard and timekeeper “Fistic” Carroll, both local sports. Billy Baker seconded Alice Leary and La Blanche, “The Marine,” seconded Lattie. At 8:15 a.m., time was called, and the girls laid aside skirts, shawis and head-gear and stepped briskly forward and shookhands. Hattie Leslie was attired in a white sleeveless underveat, white tights and canvas shoes. Alice Leary wore the same color and material of garments above the belt, with red trunks and black tights and canvas shoes. Hattie had her hair cut short and Alice wore hers long and knotted at the back of her head.
First Round – Both sparred warily for a full minute, each waiting for the other to begin. Finally Hattie gave an opening and Alice reached her on the cheek, making a very perceptible blush. Hattie countered on her antagonist’s breast. Hattie retired to her corner with a red face.
Second Round – Hattie’s fierce rushes forced Alice against the oat bundles, where she had her face roundly slapped right and left while trying to get her balance. Alice countered smartly again on her opponent’s cheek and sent her back to her corner blushing more than before.
Third Round – Not a single blow was struck home in this round. Alice successfully parried what few were aimed at her and most of the timewas devoted to circling about sparring for an opening.
Forth Round – Hattie dealt Alice some resounding rib-roasters, which staggered her, and made several heavy lunges, driving her opponent into the crowd and almost off her feet. A right-hander and a left on Alice’s jaws, which drew claret. The referee decided first blood for Leary.
Fifth Round – Hattie went in with confidence. Alice smiled satirically when Hattie tapped her in the ribs. Closer fighting followed, which drove Leary out of position. She ducked and turned to
avoid punishment, and Hattie let her have one between the shoulders. Then Alice squared herself and drew claret a second time on her antagonist’s cheek by a scratch blow. Hattie wound up the round with a few complimentary rib-roasters. Alice’s hair went by the board at the conciusion of this round, but she made a hasty twist of it before time was called again.
Sixth Round – It was now to be seen that the girls had had punishment enough. Hattie kept up a rattling small fire of taps on the short ribs, but both sparred defensively.
Seventh Round – Alice led off with a crack at Hattie’s jaw, which was promptly returned by four “swipes on the mug” in rapid succession. One of them closed a “peeper” for Alice. The round ended timely, the backers urging their women to smash the other to no avail. As soon as the girls had taken their corners Baker threw up the sponge for his girl, she flatly giving out that she had had enough.