Jack Wannop wants a go with… George Hackenschmidt?! (And it’s goodbye, for now, from Grappling With History)

It is with an extremely heavy heart – excuse the drama – that I have taken the decision to put Grappling With History on an ‘extended break’, in order to concentrate on my book proposal, continue research for the book, focus on my personal life and – fingers crossed – return to pro-wrestling training. All… Read More Jack Wannop wants a go with… George Hackenschmidt?! (And it’s goodbye, for now, from Grappling With History)

Where Did You Go, Hezekiah Moscow? (Part IV: Ching Ghook Found)

My articles on Hezekiah Moscow, who was better known by his ‘ring name’ Ching Hook or Ghook, are by far the most shared and read pieces so far produced – apologies to Mr Wannop – and last year led to conversations with the National Archives. My research now appears in their school educational materials, part… Read More Where Did You Go, Hezekiah Moscow? (Part IV: Ching Ghook Found)

Brockley Boy Burglars Birched! Finding minor Wannop scandals in the Brockley News

I have written before on my love of local newspapers. It’s genetic, I reckon. My father worked as a junior reporter, then sports and crime reporter, rising to news editor and editor at the Luton News and Dunstable Gazette from the age of 17 until his early 60s. My mother was at the same titles… Read More Brockley Boy Burglars Birched! Finding minor Wannop scandals in the Brockley News

Wrestling with danger: “We legislate by panic, and are surprised to find our laws a farrago of nonsense”

In 1878 a young man called Hooler was put on trial in Liverpool for the crime of accidentally killing a man named Brindle as a result of a half-Nelson. The unfortunate incident occurred at Burnley cattle market on the 9th November 1877. The men were engaged in wrestling, not a proper organised match, but rather… Read More Wrestling with danger: “We legislate by panic, and are surprised to find our laws a farrago of nonsense”

“The death of Mr Sam Sloper has cast a gloom over the New Cross and Catford districts…”

The sums of money involved in boxing and wrestling during the late-19th century were quite frequently astronomical. Local tournaments might be fought for a modest £5 or a nice silver watch, but bigger bouts could attract a purse of £25 to £100 – well over a year’s salary for a labourer – with a zero… Read More “The death of Mr Sam Sloper has cast a gloom over the New Cross and Catford districts…”

How far can the lady go without unsexing herself? Billy Noon V the ‘irrepressible’ Mrs Noon

I have written previously on a boxer arrested on more than one occasion for punching his female companion in the face. Unlike Jem Haines, Billy Noon not only got away with doing the same, he was paid and cheered for it too. Billy and Mrs Noon were a husband and wife boxing act, one of… Read More How far can the lady go without unsexing herself? Billy Noon V the ‘irrepressible’ Mrs Noon

The Most Popular Man in New Cross (Introducing Jack Wannop to Carthorse Orchestra)

I was recently invited to Carthorse Orchestra, a charming online evening gathering of intimidatingly creative and literary types hosted by the author David Collard. Each week David organises an eclectic programme of short readings, discussion, film and performance to entertain and connect people during lockdown. The night was themed ‘wrestling with French literature or wrestling,… Read More The Most Popular Man in New Cross (Introducing Jack Wannop to Carthorse Orchestra)

PUGILIST KILLED BY ROUGHS – A fatal encounter at the Brockley Jack for The Greenwich Bruiser

By day, the young man who had been attacked at the Brockley Jack was a 28-year-old brass-moulder called John Smith. By night, he was a prize-fighter known as The Greenwich Bruiser.  Smith lived on 13 Torr’s Lane, Deptford, at the time of his death in 1886, which might have been a different address to that… Read More PUGILIST KILLED BY ROUGHS – A fatal encounter at the Brockley Jack for The Greenwich Bruiser

The Short Life and Long Death of Jem Haines (Part I)

From Tuesday 30th July to Thursday 1st August 1889 a Grand Assault-at-Arms was held at the Corn Exchange in Chichester, with boxing, wrestling, Indian clubs and fencing on the bill. An advert in the Chichester Observer encouraged ladies to show up, and admission was charged at between two and 10 shillings depending on your spot.… Read More The Short Life and Long Death of Jem Haines (Part I)