The Square Ring (play)

The Square Ring is a 1952 play by Ralph Peterson.[1]

The Square Ring
Written byRalph Peterson
Date premieredOctober 1952
Original languageEnglish
Genreboxing drama


The story of several boxers who are fighting on the one night. They include Docker Starkie, a boxer making a comeback.


Peterson wrote an Australian radio play about boxing, Come Out Fighting which aired in 1950.[2]

Peterson moved to London in 1951 and wrote a stage version, The Square Ring, over three months. He wrote the play over a three-month period. He sent the play to Anthony Quayle, who he had met in Sydney when Quayle had toured Australia with the Stratford Players (Quayle had appeared in a radio play written by Peterson about aboriginal issues, "The Problem of Johnny Flourcake"). Quayle was going to put it on himself but then accepted another theatrical tour of Australia so he passed it to the Tennents, who agreed to produce it.[3]

After several weeks of rehearsal, the play premiered in Brighton in September 1952 with a mostly male cast but one female, the wife of the central character. Peterson said "the play never seemed to jell. It got wacky and the girl seemed to be distracting attention from the main story." So he made it an all male story. He also changed it by "I've done away with the normal compression of time. The running time of the play is exactly the period it would take a boxer to arrive in his dressing-room, to wait for his bout, and to complete his fight. It goes on without a break."[3][4]

Peterson said "The play's only philosophy is: What makes men fight? The answer is simply-money."[3]

The play debuted in London in October 1952 and was acclaimed.[3][5]

The play was turned into a 1953 British film.

The play was produced in Melbourne in 1953 with a cast including Frank Thring.[6] The play received some criticism because of its language.[7]

Joe Louis expressed interest in appearing in a production.[8]

1954 NovelEdit

Peterson adapted the play into a novel which was published in 1954.

1959 TV AdaptationEdit

The play was adapted for British TV in 1959 for ITV Play of the Week with Sean Connery.


  • George Baker as Docker Starkie
  • Sean Connery as Rick Martell
  • Alan Bates as Eddie Burke
  • Alfred Burke as Frank Ford
  • David Davies as Danny Felton
  • Arthur Gomez as Manager
  • Thomas Heathcote as Sailor Johnston
  • Percy Herbert as Rowdie Rawlings
  • Harry Landis as Happy Coombes
  • Neil McCarthy as Watty
  • David Waller as Doctor
  • Vic Wise as Joe

1960 Australian TV adaptationEdit

See 1960 Australian TV adaptation

1965 Radio AdaptationEdit

The play was adapted for radio in 1965.


  • Dan Crosby
  • Max Osbiston
  • John Gray
  • Edward Hepple
  • John Armstrong
  • Robert MacDara
  • Alastair Duncan
  • Richard Meikle
  • Ben Gabriel
  • James Congdon.


  1. ^ "LONDON ACCLAIMS AUSTRALIAN'S PLAY". The Sydney Morning Herald. No. 35, 831. New South Wales, Australia. 23 October 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 8 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "Boxing Story for AR Serial Run". The Age. No. 29612. Victoria, Australia. 24 March 1950. p. 1 (THE AGE RADIO SUPPLEMENT). Retrieved 18 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b c d "Sydney Writer's London Stage Hit". The Sunday Herald (Sydney). No. 196. New South Wales, Australia. 26 October 1952. p. 12. Retrieved 8 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Peterson, Ralph (April 2, 1955). "A Play Goes Into Production". ABC Weekly. p. 5.
  5. ^ "Australian writer's success". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 20, no. 26. Australia. 26 November 1952. p. 31. Retrieved 8 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Australian's new play is based on boxing ring". The Argus (Melbourne). Victoria, Australia. 6 June 1953. p. 16. Retrieved 19 May 2020 – via Trove.
  7. ^ "Police to see lurid ploy". The Sun. New South Wales, Australia. 16 August 1953. p. 7. Retrieved 19 May 2020 – via Trove.
  8. ^ "Louis Wants To Be Actor". The West Australian. Western Australia. 29 January 1954. p. 29. Retrieved 19 May 2020 – via Trove.

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