The Tent Boxing Troupe



The Tent Boxing Troupe

“Step up, step up

Tent boxing’s the game,

If you can fight,

Come make your name.


Meet the Cowboy,

Still to be beat

After 12 long years

Not once off his feet.


Do I see a challenger,

Just one likely lad?

If you just go the distance

The money’s not bad.


Strut for the ladies,

Show them your might.

Impress with your bravery,

It could be your night.


You Sir in the back,

You appear a strong man.

Step up to the ring,

Please give him a hand.


How much do you weigh Sir?

Two hundred, you say,

The Cowboy’s much lighter

He could lose today.”


But the grin on his face

And the fighter’s wink back,

Said we’ve been here before

Let’s give him a crack.


The crowd cheered their local,

The first round was close.

Both dodging and weaving,

But few punches thrown.


The second round started

At the sound of a gong.

The Cowboy was acting

He urged his foe on.


The young man threw a punch

That missed by a mile.

The cowboy ducked sideways

His face cracked a smile.


With a flurry of jabs

And a right to the chin

The cowboy attacked,

And the towel was thrown in.


“Good effort young fellow,

You gave it a go.

Most don’t last the first round,

So don’t feel too low.


A hand for your local boy,

Ladies and gents.

He did the town proud,

‘Gainst the champ of the tents.


Now meet the next fighter,

Come, who’ll take him on?

Surely there’s one man,

Who’s agile and strong.”


The show must go on

As it moves town to town.

Brave locals step up

But most get knocked down.


Just two or three fight troupes

In Australia still roam.

They travel the outback

A long way from home.


But if they may come

To a town that you know

Calling “Step up, step up”

Will you give it a go?


by John Hansen 2013


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John Hansen

Longtime poet but not in the traditional technical sense. I enjoy rhyme but like to experiment and dabble in many different forms and maybe even make up some of my own. There is always a message or lesson I want to promote through my writing, for that reason, my poetry generally shies away from the abstract and obscure. After a lot of procrastinating I have finally self-published my first eBook of poetry "I Laughed a Smile" at Now I find myself branching out and experimenting with short fiction. I have also been fortunate to have two poems chosen to be made into songs and recorded. The first "On the Road to Kingdom Come" by Al Wordlaw, and the second, "If I Could Write a Love Poem" by award-winning Israeli/British singer Tally Koren. I am also finding my services increasingly in demand as a freelance writer and I have ghost-written the text for a number of children's books and educational tutorials. It has taken me many years of searching and restlessness to realise that my life's passion is to write. It saddens me that I wasted so many years not devoting to that, but thinking positively, the experiences gained over those years are now wonderful material for my stories and poems. I want to try to bring a new focus on poetry and try to make it appealing to a new generation of young people and those who thought they never liked or understood it before.

10 thoughts on “The Tent Boxing Troupe

  • August 7, 2018 at 9:44 AM

    Well penned John, back in the day, I would have stepped forward, but now too old to throw that punch that left me a winner. The golden gloves I fought for in my weight class and lost, yet a contender I was and proud that I could take a punch, my jaw was not glass then and I enjoyed the bouts. So indeed young me, step up and give it a go, a purse may await you and a winner you be. I loved the pace of this piece John, well penned, brought back a few memories of my wayward youth:-)) Cheers.

    • August 7, 2018 at 11:46 PM

      Hi Vincent. I went to a few of these at Carnivals and Shows when I was a kid with my dad and always enjoyed the spectacle. I imagined ‘stepping up’ to take on the champ but alas I was too young. My dad told me tales of him and his brothers actually doing it to make a few bucks and one of his brothers actually always won his bouts. Glad you enjoyed and it brought back memories.

  • August 7, 2018 at 8:12 PM

    A nicely penned tale of a dying tradition. Well done John, flowed well and filled with imagery. I can just imagine being there. Cheers!

  • August 7, 2018 at 11:48 PM

    Hey, Tony. Glad my words could instil the sense of being there at the tent fights. Thanks for reading and the kind comment.

  • August 9, 2018 at 12:17 AM

    Thank you Phyllis. I had fun writing this and I thought the short punchy lines suited the topic. Much appreciated.

  • August 16, 2018 at 10:42 AM

    Excellent piece John. Quick like the flurry of jabs from the cowboy. Great rhyming and feel to this one, almost like I was sitting in the tent or a town square waiting for someone to step up and beat the champ.

  • August 16, 2018 at 8:56 PM

    Thank you, Paul. I am glad I accomplished the sharp punchy feel I intended and the atmosphere of the boxing tent. Cheers.

  • August 28, 2018 at 9:27 AM

    Who is going to step up next, I wonder. Went back to those days through your poem, nicely penned.

  • August 28, 2018 at 11:21 PM

    Good to see you Nithya. I am glad this poem took you back there to the days of the boxing troups.


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