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San Francisco: 1800s

August 8, 1851, Alta California, San Francisco

Aquatic Sport. -- We have seen on diverse occasions "set-to's," contemplated and accidental; we have seen "lemons, go in" frequently and come out excessively well "squeezed." Displays in the "noble" and manly art of self-defense are familiar to us, and the number of "chickens" we have seen "doubled up" would stock the very largest sized poultry yard that was ever yet constructed.

Prize fights are not unfamiliar, and the names of Bendigo, Caunt, the Manchester Pet, Tom Crib, Sullivan, McCoy, Lilly, and Tom Hyer have been heard. Boxing on the stage, in gloves, is all very well, in the ring, too, it is pleasant; but fighting upon "terra firma" is old -- the pastime has become stale -- the water is the only place for a fight -- there you have a fair sea and so favor.

The first aquatic encounter of the season came off yesterday at Pacific Wharf, between the second mate of the Delia Maria, and a boatman named Donnelly.

It appears that the parties came into collision with each other at the watermen's stairs and clenched, each in their respective boats. The space afforded being too limited, perhaps, both soused into the water. The "briny" separated them for a few seconds, but when they again arose to the surface, they "pitched into" each other in the most approved style, hitting out right and left. Several boats were alongside, and after the exchange of a number of complimentary notices they were both hauled out of the water and taken on shore.

The engagement afforded a vast deal of sport to the spectators, from its extreme novelty, but opinions were divided as to which was the best man.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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