Souvenir South African Programs


South African boxing history is closely tied to the country’s early and turbulent history on the diamond and gold fields, with the first recognised international fight, taking place on 26 July 1889 at Eagles Nest near Booysens, about ten kilometres from the centre of Johannesburg, between Jamie Couper and Wilf Bendoff under the London Prize Ring Rules, after permission was given by President Kruger.

Prior to 1923 boxing was illegal until The Boxing Control Act was passed in parliament, making professional boxing legal in South Africa. Ludwig Japhet who had a law practice in Johannesburg had a passion for boxing and in 1918, soon after World War 1, he began working on plans to legalise boxing. With the aid of friends he drafted a bill and persuaded George McAllister the Member of Parliament for Germiston to introduce the bill to Parliament in 1923. At the end of the first day after discussion on the proposed bill it appeared as if all was lost, but that night a young girl was raped and her escort beaten up. Japhet later said he believed that the report of the rape in the next day’s Cape Argus influenced the decision. John X. Merriman joined the debate in favour of boxing and it was soon agreed that if the girl’s escort had some boxing knowledge he might have been able to protect her. The opposition fell away and the act that legalised boxing was promulgated.

Boxing has generated countless inspirational stories and legends of all races in the sport, each of which represent their own perspectives on local history, and stories about the climate of boxing and South African politics at the time.

African Ring honours this rich history with a collection of rare South African boxing programmes, books and photos from the 1920’s that cover fights between legendary giants of the sport who will never be forgotten for their achievements, and their advancement of the sport at a local level.

Get a first-hand account of how South African boxing has evolved over the years to become the sophisticated marvel and industry it is today by browsing through our lists of South African boxing programmes, photographs and collectibles below.


Want to know more about our books, memorabilia, events, and boxing news? Be sure to get in contact with a representative from African Ring today, or continue browsing our website for the endless collections of important pieces of boxing history

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