One of the most important fights in the history of boxing
September 9, 2014 2:44 AM   Subscribe

On December 10, 1810, in a muddy field around 25 miles from London, a fight took place that was so dramatic, controversial, and ferocious that it continues to haunt the imagination of boxing more than 200 years later.
A long-form article in Grantland tells the story of freed American slave and boxer Tom Molineaux in England of the early 19th century.
posted by tykky (5 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Gripping read. Thank you for sharing it!
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:34 AM on September 9, 2014

George Macdonald Fraser of the wonderful Flashman novels wrote Black Ajax, a gripping read based on Tom Molineaux' story.
posted by viggorlijah at 4:20 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

That was a great story, thanks for posting this.
posted by saladin at 6:33 AM on September 9, 2014

from the Grantland piece:
"In the 28th round, Molineaux knocked Cribb out. The champion misjudged a punch and left himself unguarded; Molineaux dropped him in the mud. In the chaos of rain and screaming fans that followed, Richmond didn’t hear when the umpire called “time! time!,” the announcement that meant Molineaux had won the fight. While the champion slowly came to, one of his seconds, Joe Ward, rushed into the ring to distract Molineaux’s corner. He did this reportedly by crying out that Molineaux was holding bullets in his fists to make his blows land harder. While Molineaux and his seconds disproved the accusation to the umpire, Cribb regained consciousness and somehow got to his feet.

"Although Cribb had not made it back to scratch in the allotted 30 seconds, and thus by rule had lost the fight, the umpires decided to allow the bout to continue. (Maybe with a glance at the large, howling, vehemently pro-Cribb crowd.) Molineaux rallied repeatedly, but Cribb rallied as well. In the 40th round, utterly exhausted, with his eyelids swelling shut and his face a mass of bruises, Tom Molineaux yielded."

In fact, and by a fair standard, Tom Molineaux won his first fight against Cribb -Molineaux was robbed. On that day, Molineaux was the better boxer, and maybe even the better man - Cribb had to have known that he was getting an unfair break.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:58 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

It was the closest he ever came to acknowledging that sport can make us great without ever making us good.

I love that closing line so much.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:00 PM on September 9, 2014

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