Throughout sports’ history, there have been many mind-boggling records, several of which leave fans in so much awe.
One of these remarkable feats is the record for the longest boxing match in history.
In a physically intense sport like boxing, the usual rule is for both contenders to tussle it out for a few minutes before a clear winner is announced.
And should both fighters prove invincible, the statutory 12 three-minute rounds, with a one-minute break per round, will ensure the fight ends in under an hour.
However, in the early days of boxing, two boxers proved so invincible that their bout lasted over five hours!
This historic event took place at the New Orleans Olympics Club in April 1893, long before the strict time regulations we have in boxing today were established.
In this article, we’ll travel back over 100 years ago to experience this incredible match.
But before we do that, let’s get to know our contenders a little better.
The Longest Boxing Match in History: Who Were the Fighters?
The two boxers at the center stage of the history-making event, possibly the most profound sporting moment of the 19th century, were Jack Burke and Andy Bowen.
Andy Bowen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 3, 1867.
While he ventured into fighting from a young age, Bowen didn’t debut on the fighting scene until 1887, when he was 20 years old.
He had an amiable reputation as he went undefeated in his first 15 fights, claiming victory 13 times, with two bouts ending in a draw.1
Not long after, his boxing talents earned him a boxing title.
Bowen was so devoted to boxing that he ultimately met his demise due to an injury he sustained during a boxing bout.
The injury knocked him into a state of unconsciousness from which he never recovered.
He ended his boxing career with 16 wins out of 27 bouts.
He lost on three occasions, with one fight ending in a no contest.
Jack Burke was born on January 1, 1869, in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Burke had always been interested in boxing and decided to delve into the sport as a professional boxer and a trainer.
Although he adopted the orthodox boxing stance during the course of his career, the athlete has no record of any known title championship win.
Burke fought in 12 professional boxing bouts, winning five, losing three, and having one end in a no contest.
The Longest Boxing Match in History
On April 6, 1863, Andy Bowen and Jack Burke faced off for the Lightweight Championship of the South, with a purse of $2500 on the line.2
Initially, the bout was scheduled to be between Andy Bowen and another opponent, who unfortunately dropped out of the fight and missed out on making history.
Jack Burke, the trainer of the opponent who dropped out, had to fill the shoes of his trainee, thus setting up a showdown between him and Bowen.
The event was set to hold at the Olympics Club in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Bowen had defeated Carol to defend his Lightweight title.
The fight started like every other boxing bout, and soon enough, Jack Burke’s win seemed only inevitable.
He dominated the first 25 rounds, applying relentless pressure and exploiting the weaknesses in Bowen’s defense, but Bowen still refused to submit.
With an ironclad determination, Bowen kept evading and blocking, holding his ground in the face of Burke’s intense and consistent jabs and domination.
The crowd was thrilled by the tactics of the two pros, and their deafening roars must have filled the arena with each close call.
Not long after, the unexpected happened, turning the tide around—Andy Bowen knocked out Jack Burke, seemingly deciding the winner.
The bell rang, and Bowen inched closer to victory with each count, but Burke still had the will to put up a fight.
He stood up before he was counted out, eager to win the match.
Bowen must have let out a sigh or an intense sign of exasperation, but he was quickly rejuvenated by his newfound strength and dominance.
The two gladiators kept on the fistfight, but all their techniques and tactics learned from years of training only proved futile.
Bowen kept dominating, while Burke kept weathering the storm, but they both were humans.
As the fight continued for hours, the two boxers became fatigued, and the once lively and boisterous crowd slipped into a semi-coma state.
Burke’s hands were now broken, but he kept fighting, a testament to the will of an athlete eager for victory and ready to sacrifice anything for success.
It was the 108th round, and no punches had been thrown. Both fighters simply circled each other with no attack or defense moves.
After two more rounds, the referee ended the bout and declared it a draw.
As there was no clear winner, both fighters shared the $2,500 purse.
Their names went down in history as the fighters to have battled in the longest boxing bout, lasting 110 rounds—7 hours and 19 minutes (9:15 p.m.–4:34 a.m.).
The tale of Andy Bowen and Jack Burke’s epic battle would be the talk of the town for years to come and stand as the longest-recorded boxing match in history.
Many years later, this notable record would earn both stars a place in the prestigious Guinness Book of Records.3
A century has passed since the longest boxing match in history was fought.
Today, boxing has undergone numerous changes, and bouts now have a coordinated duration, no matter how intensely competitive the boxers prove to be.
However, it is worth noting that the popularity of the 1863 bout made boxing a popular sport in those early years.
What’s even more remarkable is that historical accounts relating to the bout have survived many historical moments that shaped the world, from world wars to technological innovations.
This enduring legacy points to the underlying love for not just boxing but sports as a whole, which generations of humans across different civilizations share.
And this epic match stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of competition that still flourishes in the world of sports today.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
References & Notes
- Andy Bowen: American boxer (1867 – 1894). PeoplePill
- The Longest Boxing Match in History went 110 Rounds and Lasted over 7 Hours. The Vintage News
- Longest boxing match (duration). Guiness World Records