Self defense & English antisemitism
Was just reading Geo. McDonald Frazier's Black Ajax, one of his few serious works (his Flashman series is the funniest stuff I have ever read, and I mean that. If you haven't read them, start with The Flashman Papers. "Can a man who fights lies, cheats, steals, fights fixed duels, seduces his father's mistress, and betrays his country on the battlefield ... be all bad?"
His novels are based upon some pretty solid historical research. Black Ajax is a novel about an American ex-slave who went to Britain and tried for the boxing championship, toward the end of the Napoleanic Wars, when bare knuckle fighting was the obsession of the nobiity and, indeed, just about everyon, right up to the prince regent (de facto king, George III being insane).
One brutal sport it was ... you fought until one man or the other could not stand -- the ex-slave kept in his second championship fight with a broken jaw and two broken ribs -- his opponent, the champion Tom Cribb, had his eyes swollen shut so that his seconds had to lance them, and drain the blood so he could see.
The novel points out at one point that Jews were unsafe on the streets -- a dog would not be used as they were (I think one of Dave Kopel's writings picked up on this).
Then a Spanish Jew, Mendoza, became a major boxing figure, and set up a school. London's jews decided to join the fad and studied under him. (One of his invention was Mendoza's Chop ... when the other guy swings a right at you, instead of blocking it with your left, you use your right fist to hammer his forearm and drive it away. Two or three of those and the other guy's right becomes very weak).
As a result, in a matter of a few years, London's jews were treated quite politely. An antisemite had to worry whether the fellow he meant to harrass had spent a few months with Mendoza, and was well suited to hammering the stuffing out of him.
Rather like CCW permits in that regard.... only a minority of the population has them, but who's to say whether this intended victim is part of it?
[Update in light of comments] The book suggests, and I've heard elsewhere, that boxing was highly developed at the time. There was one fellow who stand with one foot on a handkerchief, and bet that you couldn't hit him (I assume there was some limit, like you had to aim for the head or upper torso), use both hands, keep going till you give up, and he almost always won the bet. He was simply too fast.
That's not to say it wasn't brutal. As I noted, fights kept going until one man couldn't stand up. Some wrestling throws were allowed. If one got the other in a headlock, he was entitled to keep pounding him; referees didn't break it up. No gloves to protect body, or hands, and special measures (such as soaking the hands in brine) to try to toughen them up. ]