Before 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was signed, battles royal often appeared on the undercard of boxing matches. These fights would normally involve five or six slaves fighting blindfolded and bare-knuckled. Depending on the pre-agreed rules these fights would either last until one man was left standing, the winner, or until two remained standing, at which point the blindfolds would be removed from the combatants and the fight continued until one was unable to continue. The owner of the winner would receive the purse, which was usually small.
The practice of fighting battles royal in this context continued long after the abolition of slavery, some were still fought legally in the 1930s albeit with the use of gloves. However, most bouts in this period were fought illegally at "smokers", unsanctioned and unregulated boxing matches, as preludes to the main event. Almost all fighters at these contests, both legal and illegal, were still black African-Americans, although they were now allowed to keep their winnings. A battle royal is the subject of the first chapter of Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man.
World Championship Wrestling was known for having the largest battle royal in wrestling, held annually at their WCW World War 3 pay per view events. The three-ring, sixty-wrestler events consisted of all sixty wrestlers parading out to the ring (usually sans formal introductions to save time) and beginning to fight at the bell. Once the number of wrestlers in each ring had dwindled down to a number suitable for a single ring, the wrestlers would all move to the designated "Ring #1" out of the three and would fight to a winner. Notable winners of such past battle royals include Randy Savage, The Giant, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash.
Numerous variations of the battle royal also exist, including:
Theatre: Any Resemblance Is Entirely Coincidental ; Battle Royal Lyttelton, London the Old Curiosity Shop Southwark Playhouse, London
Dec 12, 1999; What a difference 200 years don't make. Nick Stafford's Battle Royal begins in 1795 with a Prince of Wales who's pressurised into...