“The Kangaroo as Prize Fighter” (1893)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Wednesday, 15th February 2012

Among the recent developments in the world of sports, in Australia, is the training of the kangaroo to stand up and spar or box with a human antagonist. We give an illustration which we find in a recent number of Black and White. An exhibition of this curious kind of combat now takes place regularly at the Royal Aquarium, London, and it attracts many spectators.

The way in which the natural kangaroo spars in the bush, his birthplace, is peculiar. He places his front paws gently — almost lovingly — upon the shoulders of his antagonist, and then proceeds to disembowel him with a sudden and energetic movement of one of his hind feet. From this ingenious method of practicing the noble art of self-defense the kangaroo at the Royal Aquarium has been weaned. The clever instructor of this ingenious marsupial has trained it to conduct a contest under the conditions known as the Marquis of Queensberry’s rules. It cannot be said that it adheres to these regulations quite so rigidly as the combatants who pummel one another at the National Sporting Club are required to do. On the contrary, it cannot wholly disabuse itself of the idea, favored by the French, though discountenanced by the English, that those who are attacked have as good a right to defend themselves with their feet as with their fists. It affects la savate In preference to la boxe, a predilection which, considering the force with which a kangaroo can kick, might quite conceivably cause an injury to his antagonist. However, no harm has as yet been done, and the encounter between human and marsupial is spirited and novel, and admirably illustrates the power of man to bend the brute creation to his will.

A writer in a recent number of the Overland Monthly advocates the importation and domestication of the kangaroo in this country. He gives authorities showing the feasibility of the project, and believes the animal could be introduced and raised here with profit. The flesh of the kangaroo is highly esteemed as a food, and from the hides a valuable leather is made. These are legitimate uses of the animal. But it is shocking to think of degrading so useful a creature down to the level and equal of a brutal human prize fighter.

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