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Bill Richmond
Bill Richmond
Unofficial Boxing Champion of the 19th Century

Born near New York in 1763, the son of Georgia-born slaves, Bill Richmond was the first black boxer to gain international recognition. He came to Britain when he was 14 as servant to the Duke of Northumberland, who sent him to school in Yorkshire and apprenticed him to a cabinet maker in York. Richmond taught himself to box in a series of fights with soldiers. His early fights were often a result of someone abusing him racially, and after moving to London, Richmond found a way to put his fists to good use. He became a prize-fighter, and a very famous one. In 1805 he had two victories- he beat a Jewish boxer called Yossoup in six rounds at Blackheath, and a coachman called Jack Holmes, known as 'Tom Tough' in 26 at Kilburn, but lost to the future English heavyweight champion, Tom Cribb. Richmond didn't fight again in public for three years; then, when he felt he was ready, he faced and beat Jack Carter at Epsom Downs.

Having lost to George Maddox at Wimbledon Common, Richmond fought him in a return match in 1809 for 100 guineas and won, after 52 punishing rounds. He married after this fight and with his winnings bought a pub, the Horse and Dolphin in Leicester Square. At least once a week he had to teach some young ruffian a lesson. He also ran a boxing academy, and sometimes gave exhibition bouts at London theatres. He was described as intelligent, communicative, humorous and an excellent cricketer. He died in his home on 28th December 1829.

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