Mr Ben Duncan-Jones

Job: PhD student

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: N/A



Personal profile

Ben Duncan-Jones is a PhD researcher in the School of Humanities and is affiliated to the International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC). He has an interest in social history, with a particular focus on the history of violent recreation in nineteenth century Britain, and related interests in: the history of sport and leisure, the history of crime and criminal justice, and the use of digital tools in historical research and analysis. Ben has contributed to a number of postgraduate events, including: a joint showcase for History and English PhD students, at which he gave a presentation of his project; and, as part of a workshop hosted by the ICSHC with researchers from the University of Lausanne, at which he chaired one of the discussions.

He works as the Programme Manager for the School of Psychology and Counselling at The Open University and has a long-standing interest in combat sports and fitness training.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration
  • Master of Arts in History
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in History

PhD projects

PhD title

A Study of Prize-Fighting in England, 1800 to 1870: Mapping the Changing Attitudes, Perceptions and Reception.


This project is a study of bare-knuckle prize-fighting, its place in, and influence on, nineteenth century British society and culture. It will examine what was a popular leisure activity during the early to mid-nineteenth century and had been widely enjoyed across society. In fact prize-fighting benefited from periods of elite support, however, during this time it experienced fluctuations in popularity, and an eventual decline from the mid-nineteenth century onward.

Nevertheless, despite its uneven trajectory prize-fighting was somehow able to retain considerable currency and influence beyond the ring: socially, culturally, and materially. Therefore, the primary objective is to explore what caused an emerging rational industrial society to turn away from traditional pre-industrial leisure activities, like prize-fighting, and how can this change be mapped over this period? The intention is this study will contribute to the existing historiography and be complementary to existing qualitative works, filling a long-standing gap in scholarship by centring on a quantitative analysis of the primary sources relating to prize-fighting.

This approach will add to the current literature by highlighting the conflicting forces at work (both internal and external to prize-fighting), enabling prize-fighting to be used as a lens, through which to view British culture and society at that time, in a systematic and measured way.