Modern Art of Boxing, 1789

Mendoza, Daniel
C.R. Ryley, 'Daniel Mendoza & Richard Humphreys', United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, 2016.184.160, 1790


"Art will do a great deal, but strength more; for a man with great strength and little art will overcome one with great art and little strength."

THE requisites necessary to form a good boxer, are five, viz. Strength, Courage, Art, Activity, and Wind: but as the two latter can be acquired in great degree by practice, and therefore more properly come under the head Art -- all these qualities may be resolveable into the three first and great requisites, Strength Courage, and Art.

It is a contested point with many, which is the most important requisite, Strength or Art: it must be confessed, however, that strength has the superiority. Art will do a great deal, but strength more; for a man with great strength and little art will overcome one with great art and little strength. The strong man will break through his adversary’s guard, he will be too powerful for his opponent to stop his blows effectually, one blow from him must tell more than several hits from the weaker man, and if they should happen to close, he must have the advantage. The fair and manly method of boxing is however only here spoken of, when both parties stand up to each other, without either shifting or dropping. 

But it must be acknowledged, that the art is of such importance, that no man ought to trust his strength, however great, without calling in some knowledge of the science to his assistance. Art will always give a man the advantage over an adversary, ignorant of Boxing, who is not stronger and heavier than himself, and will put him on an equaality, if his weight and strength be greater, so as the difference in these respects is not very disproportionate: this requisite ought not, therefore, to be neglected. A man with art, if strength and activity be also combined, may be pronounced invincible:( 9 )without it, another equally powerful may overcome him; a man of strength and skill can have nothing to fear from engaging with one who, destitute of science, appears, in natural ability, his equal, or even in some degree his superior.

In mentioning Courage as a necessary requisite, it has been considered in both its active and passive sense; that is, as spirit or resolution in engaging your adversary, and as hardiness or bottom in bearing his blows.
This courage, assisted by strength and art, forms a complete boxer, and, unless a man is blinded or struck in a very critical part, so as to disable him from fighting, will bring him victorious through any battle. The union, however, of these qualities, in an eminent degree, is very seldom to be found in one person; for those who possess strength and courage, are, in general, too apt to neglect paying a sufficient attention to art.


Daniel Mendoza, The Modern Art of Boxing: As Practised by Mendoza, Humphreys, Ryan, Ward, Wason, Johnson, and Other Eminent Pugilists. To which are Added, the Six Lessons of Mendoza, as Published by Him, for the Use of His Scholars; and a Full Account of His Last Battle with Humphreys. Printed (for the author) and sold at No. 42, Little Britain, and by all booksellers and newscarriers in town and country, 1789. Full facsimile text from