oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Die "Boeresirkus" van St. Louis,V.S.A (1904)

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



In 1904 a contingent Boer and British war veterans from the Second Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) took part in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, better known as the World's Fair. From mid-July until the end of November they performed the Battle of Colenso, the Battle of Paardeberg, and the escape of De Wet daily. The trainer was Frank Fillis, a well-known South African entertainer and owner of Fillis' Circus. These shows were so realistic that the Boer War Spectacle soon became the most popular show at the Fair. The highlight of the show was Gen. Piet Cronje, who was widely critised for taking part in it. In South Africa people mockingly referred to this venture as the ""Boeresirkus"". Nothing came of the expected financial gain and reconciliation between Boer and Briton. Gen. Cronje in vain tried through several court cases, to obtain moneys owed to him by the various managers of the spectacle. Regular skirmishes occurred between Boer and Briton which led to injuries and even death. The interest for South African sport history is that this show produced Africa's first Olympians. The third Olympiad was organised as part of the Fair and three of the South African participants at the Boer War Show took part in the Olympic marathon. They were Robert Harris, Len Tau and Jan Mashiani. The latter two were probably Tswanas and not Zulus as previously believed. A Boer tug-of-war team also took part in this Olympic event.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error