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)

“Six Foot Thriller is Coming from London!” Introducing the Graeco-Roman Goddess, Miss Juno May (Part II)

<< READ PART I HERE >> By January 1907, Apollo Magazine (“the most practical Physical Culture Guide in existence”) considered Juno well known and admired enough to include her illustration among the great and good of British bodies, and promoted her inclusion in the magazine’s advertising on the front page of the Sporting Life. The… Read More “Six Foot Thriller is Coming from London!” Introducing the Graeco-Roman Goddess, Miss Juno May (Part II)

“252 Pound English Girl Seeks Fame on the Mat!” Introducing the Graeco-Roman Goddess, Miss Juno May (Part I)

The whole point of my research project is to focus on wrestling in the 1880s and early 1890s. 1902-ish onward has been ‘done’, hasn’t it? Early Edwardian performers (Hackenschmidt, Gotch et al), born quarter of a century after Jack Wannop, were well photographed, documented, and if a written wrestling history exists without them it’s a… Read More “252 Pound English Girl Seeks Fame on the Mat!” Introducing the Graeco-Roman Goddess, Miss Juno May (Part I)

“Murdered in a thieves’ kitchen” – Finding Alexander Hayes Munroe

In my first article on Ching Hook I wrote briefly on the murder of Hook’s close friend and trainer Alexander Hayes Munroe, known as Alec or Aleck Munroe, Munro or Monroe. Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1850 or ’51, he first appeared in east London boxing news in the late 1870s. He is listed on… Read More “Murdered in a thieves’ kitchen” – Finding Alexander Hayes Munroe