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Human-Baiting

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Human-baiting is a bloodsport involving the baiting of humans.

Gentleman and the Bull Dog

In Sporting Magazine vol. XVIII, there is the description of a fight between the 'Gentlemen and the Bull Dog'. The Sporting Times reports on this fight, which occurred in 1807.

"A fight between a man and Bull Dog took place some time ago to settle a bet. With its first charge the Bull Dog already succeeded in throwing and pinning its opponent. Although the dog's jaws were nearly closed by a muzzle, it succeeded in sinking its teeth into the man's body. Had the dog no been pulled away immediately, it would have disembowelled the man."

This story illustrates the outcome of a large, mastiff like dog charging its opponent. Despite the handicap of a muzzle, the dog was the winner.

Brummy and the Bulldog

The Daily Telegraph on July 6, 1874, provided an article written by journalist, James Greenwood, in which he reported on June 24, 1874 to have witnessed a human-baiting. In 1876, Greenwood republished the article in his book "Low-Life Deeps" in the chapter called In The Potteries.

To make the story all the more odd, the human named 'Brummy' was a forty-year old dwarf standing at most four-and-a-half feet tall, but possessing extraordinary strength. The enormous size of his head and ears were particularly striking. He had huge hands and feet and he was extremely bow-legged.

Physic and Brummy, An Evening at Hanley Physic and Brummy, An Evening at Hanley

The Bulldog named 'Physic' was stately white and red-eyed, eager for the fray. He did not bark but was frenzied with passion to the degree that tears trickled down his blunt nose and his gasping became each moment more shrill and hysterical.

The bait occurred at an old inn located at Hanley, Staffordshire, in a large guest room with a ring cordoned off with a line. The fifty spectators were mostly coal miners, with some gentlemen from better social classes, each eagerly awaiting the fight. The floor was covered with sawdust, from the ceiling hung an oil lamp and all the windows were closed and carefully covered, with the only ventilation through the fireplace. Thick smoke from cigars and pipes filled the room, with perspiration from the crowd making the room hot and sticky.

Brummy had agreed to fight the dog for a wager, on his theory that no dog, not even a Bulldog, "could lick a man". The conditions were no weapons and he could only wear his trousers. The combat rules provided that both 'beasts' should be chained to the wall opposite and facing each other and the man was to assume and continue the position on all fours throughout the fight. During the fight Brummy was bitten deeply several times on the arms and the Bulldog was dealt several heavy blows to the head and ribs from sledge hammer fists.

By the end of round ten the Bulldog's head was swollen beyond its accustomed size, it had lost two teeth and one of its eyes was entirely shut up; while as for the dwarf, his fists and arms were reeking and his hideous face was ghastly pale with rage and despair.

The fight lasted until round eleven when Brummy dealt the Bulldog a tremendous blow under the chin and with such effect that the dog was dashed against the wall, where despite all its' master could do for it, for the space of one minute it lay still and Brummy was declared the winner.

East End Club

In 1892, another human-baiting occurred between the human combatant James Oxley and a fighting dog named 'Crib'. The following is extracted from a report published from those times.

"An arbite (man and dog fight) took place in an East End Club. The match was that James Oxley, a man well known in the neighbourhood of Shoreditch, would stall off for thirty minutes a fighting dog called 'Crib' owned by Robert Green. The match came off not many yards from the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton and excited considerable interest amongst those in the know. Some of the prominent people, who brought about this sickening match, when interviewed, stated that for twenty-one minutes Oxley kept the dog off by using his fists. But, at one moment, the dog made a desperate effort to get past the man's guard and did and jumped over his left shoulder, wheeled round and fastened on the man's right ear, and dragged him to the ground. As soon as it was possible, the dog was choked off, but the upper part of Oxley's ear had disappeared."

Warning from history

The history of dog fighting breeds reflects the intensive breeding efforts to create a dog breed with the absolute courage, insensitivity to pain, gameness and willingness to win, even if they have to pay with their own life. This and the above examples of past human-baiting should provide ample warning to any person considering fighting such a dog themselves.

Further reading

  • Fleig, D. (1996). History of Fighting Dogs. T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0793804981
  • Homan, M. (2000). A Complete History of Fighting Dogs. Howell Book House Inc. ISBN 1582451281

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