And these weren't only backwoods maniacs filing their teeth into points and sharpening their dick-gouging nails. American hero Davy Crockett apparently trained in the martial art of gouge n' bite. In his own words, he described a match thusly: "I kept my thumb in his eye, and was just going to give it a twist and bring the peeper out, like taking a gooseberry in a spoon." Unfortunately, the fight was interrupted before he could finish spooning out the man's ocular cavity, which is probably why there isn't a verse about it in his children's song.
Equally shocking: He was killing bears by age three, but never even bothered to maim Andrew Jackson.
The whimsy of Davy Crockett pulling faces apart doesn't do justice to the visceral horror of these fights or how commonplace they were. For instance, here is a passage from Gouge And Bite, Pull Hair And Scratch, a book documenting Southern mutilation karate. It was a fight that started as a disagreement over which state was the best and demonstrates how dramatic a match can be when both men are trained in this deadly fighting art: