Item:
ONSV5115

Original U.S. Navy 1932-1933 Asiatic Fleet Welterweight Boxing Championship Belt Buckle

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. In 1900, Navy Regulations made the following mention of athletics. In the section dealing with duties of commanding officers is the statement that COs "shall encourage the men to engage in athletics, fencing, boxing, boating, and other similar sports and exercises. Gymnastic outfits will be furnished by the Department to vessels requesting them."

Later, quarterly allowances were authorized for ships to use in purchasing athletic gear. In the 1920s, as sports and sports trophies came into their own in increasing numbers, the Navy Department announced that profits from the canteens (ships' stores) could be spent for the amusement, comfort and contentment of the "enlisted forces" and for the purchase of athletic equipment.

As for shipboard organization of sports, each captain was directed to appoint an athletic officer to be in general charge of all ship athletics. The captain also could appoint an officer-in-charge of each of the following sports: boat racing, football, baseball, track, swimming, basketball, boxing, fencing and gymnastics. Such officers would be assistants to the athletic officer and act as coaches for their respective teams.

In the early days, back in the 1800s and early 1900s, championships, especially in boxing, changed hands at the drop of an anchor. "Champeens" sprung up overnight. They became champs by virtue of having bested all comers in their own squadron, division or ship.

Ships' boxers gave exhibitions ashore whenever possible. It was considered (as today) that such bouts did much to publicize the Navy among young men. Shore activities also conducted boxing championships.

The Atlantic and Pacific Fleets enthusiastically conducted competitions and held all fleet Championships for Boxing and Wrestling.

This is a sterling silver championship welterweight boxing belt buckle for the Unites States Navy Asiatic Fleet from 1932 - 1933. The front of the belt buckle reads

ASIATIC FLEET
WELTER WEIGHT BOXING
CHAMPIONSHIP
WON BY
T.J. SMITH
1932-33
Reverse side of the buckle is stamped SILVER STERLING. Offered in very good condition.

The United States Asiatic Fleet was a fleet of the United States Navy during much of the first half of the 20th century. Before World War II, the fleet patrolled the Philippine Islands. Much of the fleet was destroyed by the Japanese by February 1942, after which it was dissolved and incorporated into the naval component of the South West Pacific Area command, which eventually became the Seventh Fleet.

The fleet was created when its predecessor, the Asiatic Squadron, was upgraded to fleet status in 1902. In early 1907, the fleet was downgraded and became the First Squadron of the United States Pacific Fleet. However, on 28 January 1910, the ships of that squadron were again organized as the Asiatic Fleet. Thus constituted, the Asiatic Fleet, based in the Philippines, was organizationally independent of the Pacific Fleet, which was based on the United States West Coast until it moved to Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii in 1940.

Although much smaller than any other U.S. Navy fleet and indeed far smaller than what any navy generally considers to be a fleet, the Asiatic Fleet from 1916 was commanded by one of only four four-star admirals authorized in the U.S. Navy at the time. This reflected the prestige of the position of Asiatic Fleet commander-in-chief, who generally was more powerful and influential with regard to the affairs of the United States in China than was the American minister, or later United States Ambassador, to China.

On 28 January 1910, the United States Asiatic Fleet was reestablished.

In December 1922 the U.S. Navy was restructured, with the U.S. Pacific Fleet and United States Atlantic Fleet combining to form a unified United States Fleet. However, the Asiatic Fleet remained a separate entity and was charged with defending the Philippines and Guam and with upholding the Open Door Policy in China.

In late July 1937, the Asiatic Fleet's commander-in-chief, Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, took his flagship, the heavy cruiser Augusta, to the Soviet Union's main naval base in the Pacific, Vladivostok, along with four of the fleet's destroyers. The visit, urged by the Soviet government, was an attempt to display solidarity between the Soviet Union and the United States in the face of increasingly aggressive Japanese behavior in China and along the border between the Soviet Union and the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria. The visit was unsuccessful in deterring further Japanese military operations in either area.
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