Boxing matches have been a popular spectator sport for years. They always attracted audiences from around the country. People would identify themselves with the fighter they wanted to win. They pictured themselves in the ring and coached their favorite fighter how to fight. They would squirm in their seats and shadow box with the air. It isn't unusual for a young man to threaten to get in the ring himself.
Arcade manufacturers were aware of this human desire to be competitive and to punch someone out, fighting it out after school or in the back alley.
In the early years, they tried to replicate the punching bags of the corner gym. They gave you real punching bags that you could punch...punch as hard as you could. They were massive cast iron machines that were constructed to take all the abuse you could give it.
But hitting an imaginary opponent - one who wouldn't duck or fight back wasn't good enough. People wanted a more active opponent.
One of the first two player boxing machines was called the "Knock Out Fighter". The game was designed to allow each player to move his boxer back and forth, in and out, to avoid being hit or to move in for the knock out punch. When you thought you were in position, you squeezed the trigger and your boxer throws a punch. If your timing and arm were right, you could hit your opponent on the chin. You'd have a knockout punch and your opponent falls down and scoring machine records a point for you. A few seconds later, the boxer gets up, the bell rings, and you are ready for round two.
Another early two player boxing game was the international Mutoscope Silver Gloves, it was designed to attract attention.
The game was considered modern and colorful. The prize ring had real ropes and miniature fighters almost a foot high, dressed in different color trunks.
One of the player's hands would move the fighter back and forth. The other hand controlled a trigger that makes the fighter's arms come up swinging. When the glove catches the button on the fighter's chin, he went down while a bell bonged out. When he stood up again, the scoring device registered knockdown 1, 2, 3...or whatever the number may be.
The game played for approximately 30 seconds for 5 cents.
In the 1940's and '50's, Mutoscope refined the game and introduced K. O. Champ.
The boxing ring was enclosed in a big clear dome, so everyone could watch and get caught up in the excitement. The player could control each arm independently with left and right hand triggers making it more like real life boxing. The addition of an animated referee adds to the lively action.
If squeezing a trigger wasn't exciting or realistic enough for you, in the 1950's, you could fight with might Mike the mechanical Sparring Partner.
Mighty Mike was a life-sized tough looking rubberized body that would move in and out, up and down, to make it difficult for you to punch him on the chin. With a little practice, however, almost anyone could be a winner and put Mighty Mike in his place.
Opponents of Mighty Mike were fortunate...in case you didn't notice...Mighty Mike had one small hand-up, he didn't have arms.
For a list of books on arcade machines, go to GameRoomAntiques Bookstore
For a list of sport-related arcade machines for sale, got to: Arcade Machine Sales List
Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques
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