Playing Past is delighted to be publishing on Open Access – Sport and Leisure on the Eve of World War One, [ISBN 978-1-910029-15-2]  – This eclectic collection of papers has its origins in a symposium hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Sport and Leisure History research team on the Crewe campus between 27 and 28 June 2014. Contributors came from many different backgrounds and included European as well as UK academics with the topics addressed covering leisure as well as sport.


Please cite this article as:

Loucher, Jean-François. Georges Carpentier’s Training: A ‘Scientific Method’ of Boxing?, In Day, D. (ed), Sport and Leisure on the Eve of World War One (Manchester: MMU Sport and Leisure History, 2016), 207-221.





Georges Carpentier’s Training: A ‘Scientific Method’ of Boxing?

Jean-François Loudcher




Georges Carpentier is widely regarded as the first French World Champion of boxing. After beating the English boxer, Bombardier Wells in 1913, he published a book called My Method of Scientific Boxing the following year, which proved to be a success, not only in France, but also abroad after being quickly translated into English and then into German. It seems that this book evoked for the first time a ‘specific’ French method of boxing. The ‘Orchid Man’ proposed combining the long-range boxing style practiced by the English and the aggressive-clinch one developed by the Americans but it is debatable whether or not this was really an original style and just how his ‘scientific’ approach to his training, both technical and physical, differed from the two previous methods. In addition, Carpentier spent some time with the French running champion Jean Bouin at the Reims Athlete Centre led by the renowned coach Georges Hébert who developed his own ‘scientific’ method in order to prepare French athletes for the 1916 Olympic Games and it may be that his approach influenced Carpentier’s text. While undertaking a comparison of training methods it is also important to consider the cultural context and theoretical framework which, through English ‘pragmatism’ and French ‘experimentalism’ nourished the development of modern sport.

Keywords: Carpentier; Boxing; Science; Billy ‘Bombardier’ Wells; Methods of Training.



Georges Carpentier (1894 Liévin-Paris 1975) is, with Marcel Cerdan, the most known French boxer being the one with the most titles having been French, European and World champion in the light heavyweight division. His record tells a lot about him; out of 108 combats, he won eighty-eight times (including fifty-five inside the distance), drew seven times and experienced only thirteen defeats. Another, more trivial, fact is that was also champion of French kickboxing.[1]

His story is something of a fairy tale. The son of a workman from Lens, he rose socially thanks to his boxing, winning a significant amount of money (several millions of Euros) and socializing with some of the crowned heads of Europe. Moreover, his aura was enhanced through his military achievements, having been decorated with the military cross in September 1915 and the military medal in 1916, the latter distinction being awarded to him by President Poincaré. Furthermore, he was nominated as Knight of the Legion of Honor as a military title and was raised, a few years before his death, to the rank of officer of the Legion of Honor by Jacques Chaban-Delmas (the former Prime Minister) in 1972. These military nominations were accorded to him following the battle of Druaumont’s fort, at Verdun, in 1916 when he came back with his plane ‘riddled with bullets’. After that, he was appointed as an instructor at the normal school of gymnastics at Joinville until 1919.

Paradoxically, his pugilistic glory actually peaked following his defeat in four rounds against Jack Dempsey in 1921 at Jersey-City for the most important title of his career, the world championship of the heavyweight division. In 1926, he retired from boxing but still sustained a career as a cinema star and music-hall entertainer thanks to his relationship with Charlie Chaplin, Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett, Claudette Colbert, and the Warner Brothers. His first cinematographic appearance, a silent movie called le Roman de Carpentier, was released in 1913 while the boxer was only nineteen and then, from 1928 onwards, he was a dancer, a singer and an actor in The Show of Shows (1929), and then in Naughty but Nice (1930) or Hold Everything (1930). Most of the time, he was playing a boxer or was performing a pugilistic demonstration. Finally, he wrote or co-wrote several books including three autobiographies.[2]

The book he published in 1914, which concentrated exclusively on his pugilistic training, is the focus for this chapter. Entitled Ma Méthode ou la Boxe Scientifique (My method of Scientific Boxing), it was first edited in English under the direction of M. Hurdman-Lucas and then published in French the following year, after which it was translated into German and Dutch.[3] The publication course of this book emphasizes the interest shown in the French boxer which exceeded the borders of his own country. However, this is not to say that Carpentier followed a system of scientific training, or that he was innovative in this area, and to explain what his inspiration might have been. One important consideration in this respect to identify if he was the creator of an original method himself or whether it was the creation of his loyal trainer, François Descamps. This chapter not only discusses these questions in respect of Carpentier’s boxing ‘method’, and its claims to be ‘scientific’, but also reflects on a French approach to training at a time where the notion of athletic training was emerging in France. This research is part of a wider project that is exploring the way that the French ‘scientific’ thinking about sports training was differentiated from the English approach and how those two notions of athletic preparation may have exerted an influence on each other.

Georges Carpentier, French or English hero?

By the eve of the Great War, boxing had become an international sport.[4] Until the end of the nineteenth century, it had primarily been popular in England, even though the Americans were starting to make an impact. In particular, their black boxers had become famous, successes that were viewed with misgiving owing to the white racism and the color barriers that prevailed at that time. However, France, and Paris in particular, had less reservations about colour and continued giving a warm welcome to these boxers within an expanding sporting environment (the Olympics of 1900 and the Tour de France in 1903, for example).[5] A la Belle Epoque (1890-1914), Paris was equal to, or even surpassing, Great Britain for the quality and the number of its international pugilistic encounters. Nevertheless, England always remained the reference point as the country which had ‘invented’ this sport.

After meeting many English, Americans and French boxers at home, Georges Carpentier was invited to face the welterweight Sid Burns on 2 October, 1911, at Earl’s Court in London. The combat, which he won in the fifteenth and last round, did not have a title at stake but had been organized as a replacement for the Jack Johnson/Bombardier Billy Wells fight that had been cancelled by the Home Secretary Winston Churchill because of the possibility of racist riots.

By then, the fame of Georges Carpentier was on the rise. On 23 October, 1911, he became the welterweight champion of Europe after Young Joseph (Champion of England) threw in the towel in the tenth round. Carpentier triumphed in front of 12,000 spectators and became the first non-Englishman to win a European title even though, without international federations, it was the British who generally decided the challenges and titles in Europe, often via the National Sporting Club. The French boxer then fought against other English fighters, not without suffering defeats. Thus, against Evernden, he lost in the fifteenth round on 14 August, 1912, at Cabourg and in the same city against Dixie Kid in the fifth round on 19 August that same year. However, it should be noted that, at this stage, he was not yet eighteen and he had collected a second European title, this time in the middleweight division, in the second round against Jim Sullivan, on 29 February, 1912. Finally, one year later, on 12 February, he won the European light-heavyweight title with another second-round knockout of ‘Bandsman’ Dick Rice.

It was his two fights against Billy ‘Bombardier’ Wells, however, that established him at a European level and particularly amongst the English. For Christopher Rivers, they contributed to change in the balance between the nations, at least for a time, on opposite sides of the Channel.[6] The first fight took place at Ghent (Belgium) on 1 June 1913, when the pre-fight predictions were varied since the Frenchman seemed weak and inexperienced compared to his British opponent. Carpentier was nineteen, 1.79m tall and weighed only 76kg; Billy Wells was twenty-four, 1,91m tall and weighed 80 to 84kg. While some observers thought the young Frenchman had a chance, a lot were betting on the British champion who had a good reputation.[7] After an aggressive opening, as usual, and multiplying his attacks, Carpentier went down on the canvas after only one minute of combat. During the second, he suffered two knock-down but, in the third round, the Frenchman began to impose himself by ‘in-fighting’, thereby exploiting a weakness of his opponent. Even though he was best known for knocking out his opponents with straight blows to the point of the chin, it was, finally, with two body hits he ended the fight in the fourth period. As a result, ‘French David had defeated English Goliath. Carpentier had taken his place among the legends of European boxing’.[8]

This result had important consequences and while the movie of the fight became a huge success in France and Great Britain, the final scenes celebrating Carpentier’s triumph were edited in order not to ‘sadden’ the British. The rematch, moreover, did not take long having been planned for 8 December 1913. For the Daily Mirror, the stakes were clear: ‘the match is of world-wide interest – two nations are talking of it – and in England hopes run high that Wells may avenge England’s defeat at Ghent earlier in the year, when he was beaten by Carpentier’.[9] Moreover, the fight took place in the temple of boxing in England, the National Sporting Club, and the purse of £3000 was the most substantial accorded until then. The spectacle was sold out but, seventy-three seconds into the first round, Carpentier concluded the bout after using the same tactics that had proved successful for him in the first fight. After blows to the face, causing Wells to raise his guard, the Frenchman went to the body and knocked him out with a series of blows. The ‘audience was momentarily spellbound at the dramatic conclusion of the fight, and then gave an ovation to Carpentier, and booed Wells’.[10] The ‘beaten Wells was jeered and insulted by his countrymen at ringside. Having recovered from the KO, Wells made the mistake of attempting to explain and apologize for his defeat, which only served to make matters worse’.[11] Carpentier thus acquired the status of boxing celebrity. Furthermore, by defeating an English representative, he also assumed the characteristic of bravery from English boxers and could now be viewed, not only like one of them, but actually a true Britisher.

The fight for the ‘White Heavyweight Championship of the World’ against the American Ed ‘Gunboat’ Smith, confirmed his popularity in England and at Charing Cross Station thousands of fans cheered him back to England. In his ‘carriage’ drawn by white horses, Carpentier noted that, ‘I really had the impression that I was as much British as French champion’ that evening.[12]

Carpentier contributed to a modification of perceptions that the English had about the French and vice versa. The traditional ‘racial’ stereotypes were that ‘the English are strong and rough and the French are clever, sharp and cultured but less brave’ but this ‘essential dichotomy would have been questioned, at least for a while’.[13] Perhaps these clichés had been generated mostly by the media but they were widespread, especially in the context of boxing, although the Daily Mirror did describe Wells as ‘effeminate’ and Carpentier as a ‘true fighter’.[14] Moreover, the kind of boxing that Wells practiced, shared by many other British boxers, was based on movement rather than ‘in-fighting’ or in ‘clinch’ so the notion of English ‘combativity’ was somewhat questionable. Only an in-depth comparative analysis of newspaper reports from the two sides of the Channel could really tell if these particular fights contributed to modifying national perceptions and future research would be well-advised to examine this quantitatively by examining the terms used according to their political and cultural orientations and to see if these remarks were evolving before and after the event. Care needs to be taken with these sources, however, since it is possible that commentators have been somewhat selective in choosing material that suits their interpretation. For example, citing a newspaper report that ‘Carpentier won more by his moral force than by his boxing skill […] Carpentier has the pluck that we once referred to as British’,[15] ignores the fact that Frenchman had been skillful enough to adapt his boxing in order to find Wells’ ‘technical’ flaw. This suggests that, while Carpentier was acquiring a reputation based on courage, his technique was also proving influential and this may have been a contributing factor to the notion that his boxing method was also ‘scientific’.

Carpentier’s training

Georges Carpentier’s book describing his scientific method was published firstly in English in 1913 by F. Hurdman-Lucas and then translated into French by Henry Dispan. Hurdman-Lucas was both English and French and had controlled the weekly Le Sporting, a magazine mostly dedicated to boxing, for a while (1909-1914). Little is known about the French translator or his reasons for carrying out the translation, although he was a journalist and a writer at his spare time.

The treatise written by Carpentier had only ninety-one pages and did not contain much in the way of revelations about boxing. After recalling some principles about psychology and scientific boxing, and having analyzed both well-known blows and less familiar ones, the French champion explained the techniques that he used against Wells, underlining the fact that, because the English opponent was tall, he had had to invent new tactics. While Carpentier was known for the quality of his movements and his speed it is not clear that this was enough to make him an ‘original’ as far as boxing types were concerned. For example, he pretended to have invented ‘le tour de valse’ (Waltz step), which consisted, firstly, of a feint then a step to the side designed to move the opponent from his axis by gliding in semi-circle. However, the principle of the side-step had already been employed by boxers for over a century. This boxing style was in use by E. Hunt and S. ‘Death’ Oliver by the end of the eighteenth century,[16] and then it was developed by J. Belcher, B. Richmond and T. Cribb at the beginning of the nineteenth century,[17] probably during the phase of the development of sparring as a public demonstration. It needs to be recognized that in the case of boxing with bare hands the use of tactical and strategic moves in the ring were always limited. The expansion of boxing with gloves, in accordance with the 1867 Queensberry rules,[18] stimulated an evolution of the pugilistic art from a technical perspective and by 1879, Ned Donnelly, professor at the London Athletic Club, was teaching the ‘side-step’, which proved ‘exceedingly useful in avoiding a rush or in getting away when you are driven back against the ropes’.[19] It was also in the second half of the nineteenth century that the ‘clinch’ and ‘in-fighting’ (close range combat) were listed and explained in books, at least in England.[20]

While it is doubtful that he could claim innovation in some respects, Carpentier was particularly effective in applying within the middleweight white division, the movement and speed that typified the approach taken by black boxers of the period.[21] His virtuosity in the application of traditional techniques led him to argue for the superiority of the French style over the English and American styles and to delineate these ‘schools’ as ‘clearly distinct’ and ‘absolutely different’.[22] While the English method was considered ‘scientific’, the American style was ‘more combative, the toughest’ but this did not necessarily mean that the English did not display combativity and that the Americans had no science. Those clichés were fed by the media and while the British style was to fight at long range without engaging in a ‘clinch’,[23] in contrast to its overseas’ counterpart, it should not be assumed that all English and American boxers were fighting in the same way. Moreover, these traditions emanated from the bare knuckle boxing period, which had clearly influenced the English style while the American method emerged from a more direct application of the ‘sporting’ form since the country had not being exposed to a long tradition of bare knuckle fighting. Furthermore, the terms ‘combativity’ and ‘science’ were never really defined.

The third form of boxing, that advocated by Carpentier, ‘took the best from the two others to make a homogenous one’[24] and he believed that ‘the French method will soon impose its supremacy’.[25] Carpentier proposed a mixed boxing type between the ‘in-fighting’ that he had developed by copying American boxers and the long range boxing movements that he had learned from the English. As he related, he had been inspired by the English method at the start of his career and he characterized it as starting,  ‘with a straight left, counter-punch of right one, a hint of footwork, this were kind of all about my pugilistic stuff’.[26] Despite his advocacy of this French method, however, it is not clear that Carpentier’s idea of the existence ‘of a national style’ that would be a ‘delightful mix between English science and the American combativity’[27] was ever really the case. Even Carpentier was not convinced of this because he implied that this method was not fixed and could be modified ‘depending on the circumstances’,[28] especially when influenced by the ‘progress and the improvement of the noble art in France’.[29]

This method of boxing was probably characteristic of English traditions and its adoption by Carpentier might help explain the popularity of the French athlete in Britain. In addition, he displayed a certain affability and dandyism that were not displeasing to the British gentlemen and the distinctive orchid that he wore at the back of his jacket led to his being dubbed the ‘Orchid Man’. Carpentier clearly understood that the sports celebrity had to develop a media image at a time when newspapers, and then radio, were becoming important to the sport,

We are seeing me in fashionable places. I’m now a much introduced young man. Like everyone else, I am at the garden of ‘Boulogne’, around noon, almost every day. I let my ‘Bellenger’ at the ‘Dauphine’s’ place and I go do my parsley at ‘Avenue des Acacias’ or ‘Avenue du Bois’. Bowler hat, butter fresh gloves, fancy jacket, polish shoes, this guy there, It’s me! And no way, I am forgetting my cane with ivory.[30]

This behaviour translated not only to his life style but also to his manner of boxing. As Buffon noted, ‘the style, it’s the man!’[31] In reality, rather than establishing a specific French method and a new style, Carpentier developed an amalgam of the two ‘classic’ types of boxing by employing tactical and strategic thinking.[32] The boxer from Lens produced a kind of ‘theory’ through the application of skills such as applying plasticity and adaptation according to the opponent’s style. In this context, boxing must not be practiced in only one style and he emphasized that ‘we have searched, in France to find the method of the middle way’.[33] Although the two ‘classic’ types of boxing, the American and the English, defined the two ends of the continuum, these styles should not be set in stone. In addition to style, the French boxer privileged a sober manner of living, avoiding smoking and drinking or displaying any antisocial behaviour.[34] In this sense, Carpentier was a ‘model’, not in the moral sense, but more generally from a cultural and political point of view, answering to a ‘medium democracy’.[35]

It can be granted, then, that Georges Carpentier deserves some attention for the techniques he was using, even though he did not really describe them or bring anything entirely new to their development or to their use if contests. More interesting, however, is his chapter addressing the boxer’s psychology. The emphasis here is placed on the necessity of observing an opponent in order to adapt to his style, a skill reminiscent of the technique developed by his trainer, François Descamps, at the beginning of his boxing career when he used hypnotism at fairgrounds. This ability to observe and adapt was, without doubt, Carpentier’s most incisive comment on fight preparation and could be regarded as the fundamental principle of his ‘scientific’ method suggesting that it was not his boxing that was ‘scientific’ but the approach he took.

A scientific boxing method

An examination of Carpentier’s book reveals essentially three reference points in relation to the term ‘science’, the first of which relates to pugilistic techniques. For the author, ‘science’ was not the ‘art of delivering pretty left or right punches all accompanied with a fancy footwork’,[36]  but consisted of knowing ‘how to use safest means to win, without considering if this boxing method is pretty or theatrical’,[37]  comments that relate well to the definition of body techniques as mentioned by Georges Vigarello. For this well-known French historian, who built on the notions introduced by Marcel Mauss in 1934,[38] they are ‘the set of means explicitly transmitted to reach at the best a given purpose’.[39] Even if this statement is questionable in some respects, it is interesting to note that efficiency and the nature of the gesture, meaning ‘the look’ or the ‘style’, are not separated and do not in themselves define ‘the true value’ of a boxer, they have to be combined.[40] The aesthetic aspect must result from the action and not be assessed on the outcome, although these aspects of the pugilistic science were rarely identified in this manner at the time and were sometimes confused as is highlighted by comments of the time. Thus, in 1912, when a journalist in L’Auto (ancestor of l’Equipe) expressed regret in not having seen in a game ‘some of those nice exchanges of boxing, cleverly brought, pretty with intelligence and logic’[41] he identified clearly the aesthetic aspect, the style, but when he added that ‘Moreau wasn’t very scientific, nor very accurate’, he was referring primarily to the body’s efficiency. Multiple examples can be similarly identified within the eighty-six occurrences of ‘science’ and scientific terms published in this newspaper during the same year.

The second point to make about ‘science’ in Carpentier’s book relates to training. The author indicated how his daily preparation followed a methodical rhythm in an almost unchangeable fashion, both before and after the First World War. He took a walk the morning, including some running at speed, then he did some sparring, which was scheduled according to the length of the upcoming fight, and he exercised at Swedish gymnastics and with the ‘Natural Method’. This was the training form he practiced the most, although it had not much to do with the popular physical education processes proposed by first lieutenant Georges Hébert, the ‘inventor’ of this ‘Natural Method’ in France. For Carpentier, it consisted mainly of ‘footings’ (mainly walking with some sprints) in natural environments, fishing with an eagle, rowing or hunting rabbits. Carpentier concluded that his methods of preparing for contests was ‘scientific’ in so far as it was rational and every exercise was calculated; ‘there is nothing I’m doing that has no reason to be’.[42]

This notion of ‘pragmatic’ training was not original and when Van Roose advised Frenchmen to drink Bourgogne’s red wine and avoid eating too much or smoking, or even to do physical culture, he was merely reproducing the advice that British boxers had been following for many year[43] and which had been published in Walter Thom’s book in 1813.[44] However, the reference to ‘science’ appears to be unique to Carpentier’s book in comparison to the rest of French literature on this topic or, indeed, books about British boxing at the Belle Epoque, with neither Van Roose,[45] nor Jacques Mortane, André Linville and Maurice Castérès[46] mentioning the term. Only one written by the ring’s champions referred to it, but really only in passing, [47]  while the doctor Lenoir evoked the notion of the science of boxing, but without defining it. [48]

It was in the treatises about French boxing where the term ‘science’ was most often used but often in a manner that meant it was not about the teaching of techniques nor utilizing a ‘pragmatic’ science, [49] and it is this feature of ‘science’ that is reflected in the third meaning applied to the term by Carpentier in his book. This elaborated form characterized an academic approach as when the ‘Orchid Man’ wrote about his ‘shadow’ fights that they allowed him to experiment with ‘a new hit and a new theory’.[50] More precisely, he referred to experimental science when he said, ‘Frequently, I suddenly perceive, a new way to block a hit and, without waiting, I verify the theory with some practice. This is what the scientists call, I think the experimental method’.[51] Indeed, this is reminiscent of the phases theorized by Claude Bernard in 1865.[52] This approach was somewhat surprising for a boxer without any advanced education and it was one that allowed for true reflection. Thus, once back in the gym, Carpentier repeated all his ‘discoveries one by one’ and then adapted the scenario founded in the outdoors to the realities of a fight in the ring.[53] However, Carpentier was only addressing the outline of adapting this method to sport and his approach lacked the establishment of systematic experiences that would have validated his hypothesis according to laws and principles as seen in disciplines such as mathematics. Furthermore, it appears that he failed to realize how important reflection was and neither did he theorize his approach, if we judge that by the contradictions within his text. Thus, referring to his early years as a boxer, he said he had been inspired by ‘scientific’ English boxing but that he had ‘learned it by himself’.[54] He also specified that ‘the boxing feeling has to be natural for a boxer’,[55] making it difficult to reconcile experimental science based on an academic education with natural instincts and abilities. In fact, this contradiction was widespread in the gymnastic methods of the Belle Epoque, in particular in Hébert’s ‘Natural Method’ that had influenced Carpentier.[56] However, the expansion of science, experimental or when directly applied to movement, did directly influence the sport and gymnastic space in this period, led by men like Etienne-Jules Marey (who worked on animals), Georges Demeny (working with humans),[57]  Philippe Tissié who worked on Ling’s method and Fernand Lagrange who applied principles of physiology and respiration to physical practices. [58] Perhaps Carpentier was not unaware of these emerging scientific theories and approaches but mastering them was another matter! It is true that his personal experimental ‘scientific’ method did allow him to ‘theorize’ an approach of analysis and observation of the opponent in order to ‘plan’ the course of the different phases of a fight. In reality, this strategic analysis was focused on personal development rather than the end result, as was the case with standard training methods. Being more ‘pragmatic’, it relied on gathering experiences in a more or less rigorous manner but it could be that utilizing this method with other fighters might produce a more stereotyped boxing style than the one employed by Carpentier. Having said that, it was perhaps one of the ‘secrets’ of his supremacy in the ring, at least until he was confronted by an equally strategic pugilist, but one that was more tactical and offensive, such as the style developed by Jack Dempsey in 1921.


The notion of ‘science’ was far from being established into boxers’ training at the beginning of twentieth century even though this analysis of Carpentier’s book suggests three ways in which the term might have been used, although, since they were not clearly identified, they are somewhat confusing and contradictory. Among these different interpretations, however, the one relating an experimental approach appears to be somewhat original since it reflects a scholarly approach, or at least has connections to the scientific method, raising the intriguing question for the researcher concerning how Carpentier might have come by this approach given that he had had no formal education.

In order to answer this question, three hypotheses are currently being considered. In the first place, it is possible that his long-term trainer François Descamps (1875-1934) could have taught him this approach. Having graduated second out of over 150 students at the Gymnastic Military School in Joinville in 1893, Descamps had been introduced to the theories of Georges Demeny, Etienne-Jules Marey, Fernand Lagrange, and Philippe Tissié, during his time at the institution. Secondly, it is possible that Carpentier may have been influenced by the practices current in other sports, especially during their stay at the first training camp in France at Manitot, near Paris, belonging to the industrialist Antoine Boyer, before the Great War. Here, Carpentier and Descamps encountered Jean Bouin, the great French champion of running who was training in a ‘rational’ and almost scientific way. Bouin also attended the Reims’ athletes camp that opened in 1913 under the leadership of Georges Hébert (who invited Georges Demeny to collaborate with him although this failed to materialize because of WWI) but it is not certain that Bouin had sufficient time to fully transmit his scientific method. Thirdly, the ‘experimental’ approach demonstrated by Carpentier has highlighted a didactic that focused on the process more that results and this was at a time when educational approaches, led by theorists like John Dewey, Célestin Freinet, and Maria Montessori, were developing notions of experience and reflection within the learning process, although it is not clear at this stage if any of this influenced Carpentier. Many of these questions remain unanswered at this stage and further research is required but the fact remains that Carpentier’s book about scientific pugilistic training presented a degree of originality about how to integrate and think about different methods. It remains for the contemporary researcher to measure the international impact of this book on both boxing and sports training.



[1] Jean-François Loudcher, D’une pratique populaire à un sport de compétition; Histoire de la savate, du chausson et de la boxe française (1797-1978) (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2000).

[2] Georges Carpentier, Comment je suis devenu champion d’Europe. (Paris: Pierre Lafitte, 1911); Ma vie de boxeur (Paris, Leveillard, 1921); Mon match avec la vie. (Paris: Flammarion, 1954).

[3] Georges Carpentier, My Method: or Boxing as a Fine Art (London: Athletic Publications Ltd, [w.d.]) and (London: Ewart, Seymour, 1920);  Meine Methode des Boxens (Leipzig, 1922); Mijn loopbaan als bokser (1922).

[4] Jean-François Loudcher and Dave Day, ‘The International Boxing Union (1913-1946): A European Sports and/or Political Failure?’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 30 no. 17 (2013): 2016-2030.

[5] Timothée Jobert, Champions noirs, racisme blanc – La métropole et les sportifs noirs en contexte colonial (1901-1944). (Grenoble: PUG, 2006).

[6] Christopher Rivers, ‘Settling their differences in the ring: French boxer Georges Carpentier’s conquest of England, 1911–1919’, Contemporary French Civilization, 38 no. 2 (2013): 155-177.

[7] Billy Wells; 31 August 1889–12 June 1967. Fighting under the name ‘Bombardier Billy Wells’, he was British Empire Champion from 1911 until 1919 and he defended his title fourteen times. In 1911, he became the first Heavyweight to win the Lonsdale Belt that had been introduced for British champions at all weights in 1909.

[8] Rivers, ‘Settling their differences’.

[9] Daily Mirror, December 8, 1913.

[10] Brisbane Courier, December 10, 1913.

[11] Rivers, ‘Settling their differences’.

[12] Carpentier by himself, 91

[13] Rivers, ‘Settling their differences’.

[14] Daily Mirror, December 8, 1913.

[15] Today’s Opinions Epitomized’, in Rivers, ‘Settling their differences’.

[16] Dennis Brailsford, op. cit., 25 : John Ford, Prizefighting, the age of Regency Boximania (Newton Abbot: London, 1971): 120.

[17] John Ford, op. cit.,  121-122.

[18] Kasia Boddy, ‘Under Queensberry Rules, So to Speak’: Some Versions of a Metaphor, Sport in History, 31 no. 4 (2011): 398-422.

[19] Ned Donelly, Self-defence Or the art of boxing, Second edition (London: Welon et Co, 1879), 43; Loudcher J.-F., ‘La sportivisation de la boxe anglaise : Etude temporelle des combats à poings nus (1743-1867) ‘, Science et motricité, n°65, (Septembre 2008): 93-106.

[20] W. Edgeworth-Johnstone, Boxing (London: Gale & Polden, 1904).

[21] Jean-François Loudcher, ‘Battling Siki, un boxeur hors-norme (1914-1925)’, Sport et dépassement des limites, CESH, Pise, 16-19 Septembre, 2009. Carpentier wrote that his model was Joe Jeannette, black boxer, who fought him in 1914: his style was almost akin to dancing.

[22] Georges Carpentier, Ma méthode ou la boxe scientifique, 26.

[23]it is not my intention to give any hints on this particular ‘art’, because I am of opinion that ‘clinching’ ought not be allowed in Boxing at all, although, at the same time, I am quite aware of its advantages as well as those of wrestling and even of kicking’, Edgeworth-Johnstone, 49. This man introduced himself as heavy-weight amateur champion of England 1895 and 1896 and assistant inspector of gymnasia.

[24] Carpentier, Ma méthode,  26-27.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 28.

[27] Ibid. 27.

[28] Ibid., 28.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Carpentier, Mon match avec la vie, Paris, Flammarion, 1954, 98.

[31] Buffon, Discours sur le style, 1753.

[32] La tactique se définissant traditionnellement par le type d’action à adopter dans l’interaction pugilistique et la stratégie comme la manière d’attaquer (le temps) et d’occuper l’espace avant l’interaction pugilistique. Cf. Jean-François Loudcher et Emmanuel Faget, ‘Stratégie, tactique et technique : de leur définition à leur exploitation didactique’, Revue EPS, Décembre 1999.

[33] Georges Carpentier, Ma méthode, 28.

[34] This behaviour was confirmed by Sylvain Salvini, President of the French Federation of kick-boxing in 1970, who knew Carpentier well.

[35] Pierre Rosanvallon, La démocratie inachevée, Paris, Gallimard, 2000.

[36] Carpentier, Ma méthode, 43.

[37] Carpentier, Ma méthode, 43.

[38] Marcel Mauss, ‘Les techniques du corps (1936)’, Sociologie et anthropologie (1950) (Paris: PUF, 2001), 365-386.

[39] In particular, because this definition is too broad and does not identify the aim, the target, the objectives or the means. Moreover, it is not clear what is meant by ‘explicitly transmitted ‘  thereby not allowing the  observer to establish different levels of complexity and different forms of body techniques: Jean-François Loudcher, ‘Marcel Mauss’s notion of techniques of the body: Transcending ambiguity: the example of sport’, accessed on 20 December 2015.

[40] Ibid.

[41] ‘Au Wonderland français’, L’Auto, May 9, 1912, 1.

[42] Lecture pour tous, n°1 (1919), 1608.

[43] Dave Day, ‘‘Science’, ‘Wind’ and ‘Bottom’: Eighteenth-Century Boxing Manuals’. International Journal of the History of Sport, 29 no. 10 (2012): 1446-1465.

[44] Walter Thom, Pedestrianism, or an account of the performances of celebrated pedestrians during the last and present century with a full narrative, of Captain Barclay’s public and private matches, and an essay on training (Aberdeen: D. Chalmers, 1813).

[45] Van Roose, La Boxe anglaise (Paris: Société d’Edition et de Publicité W.D.).

[46] Jacques Mortane, André Linville, Maurice Castérès, La boxe (Paris: Lafitte, 1908).

[47] Joseph Charlemont, Joe Jeannette, Fitzimmons, Joe Willie, etc., La Boxe anglaise et française par les champions du ring (Paris: Lafitte, 1911).

[48] Ibid., 364.

[49] Jean-François Loudcher, Histoire de la savate, du chausson et de la boxe française ; d’une pratique populaire à un sport de compétition (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2000).

[50] Carpentier, Ma méthode, 38.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Claude Bernard, Introduction à la médecine expérimentale (1865).

[53] Carpentier, Ma méthode, 39.

[54] Ibid., 28.

[55] Ibid..

[56] Vigarello Georges and Métoudi Michelle, ‘La nature et l’air du temps’, Travaux et recherches en EPS, Spécial Histoire, INSEP, no.6, (1980): 20-25.

[57] Etienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny established the first laboratory of biomechanics in the world in Paris (1882-1895) and originated numerous and ingenious inventions such as ‘chronophotographe’.

[58] Doctor Fernand Lagrange published Physiologie des exercices du corps in 1888 in France. He was one of the rare Frenchmen to be translated into English – see Fernand Lagrange, Physiology of bodily exercise (London: Paul Kegan, Trench, W.D.).