References in classic literature ?
He was honorable, in the second place, as having won the highest popular distinction which the educational system of modern England can bestow--he had pulled the stroke-oar in a University boat-race. Add to this, that nobody had ever seen him read any thing but a newspaper, and that nobody had ever known him to be backward in settling a bet--and the picture of this distinguished young Englishman will be, for the present, complete.
"Must you always be pulling in a boat-race, or flying over a high jump?
See the chaps in a boat-race; look at the fellers in a fight; aye, look at a dawg killing rats--which is it wins?