A Chat With the Champions Part II: JACK WANNOP IN TRAINING

This short interview with Jack Wannop is reproduced here as it appeared in The Sporting Life on Saturday 28 September 1889. My only edits are the paragraphing and photographs. It was published after this wonderful interview with his opponent Jem Smith, under the headline A Chat with the Champions. We learn very little, but it is still an enjoyable read.

A Chat With the Champions

(By our roving commissioner)


Jack Wannop, as our readers are aware, is finishing his training operations at the Plough Inn, Bromley Common. Probably the Cumbrian hero was never so comfortably housed, nor so well looked after since he left go of his mother’s apron strings in the canny north to push his fortunes in the metropolis.

On visiting him a few days ago in company with Charlie Crocker and George Brown, of New Cross, we found Wannop in the back garden, where he had been “tanning” a countryman, as he called it.

“You get plenty of practice among the natives,” observed Crocker.

“Oh, too much, I’m fairly inundated at times, but since I began slogging them they don’t come so often. You see that one,” said Jack, “with the fearfully red face?”

“Yes perfectly, no one could miss seeing him.”

“Well, then, I laid it on a bit thick, and I don’t think he’ll come again.”

“You have comfortable quarters here, Jack,” resumed Charlie.

“Oh, the best in the world, and the neighbourhood is almost unsurpassed for fine scenery. Go where you will the walks are lovely, but it’s too near the station some forty minutes, and now when the beggars know where I am, I’m never without company.”

“No matter who comes, Jack, of course you don’t neglect your work?”

“Not I. I keep plodding along, and I am either walking, running, or punching something or somebody all day long, with occasional intervals for luncheon,” quietly put in Jack with a sly wink.

“Well, the time is drawing near now, Jack,” said Charlie.

“I know: the sooner the better. I’m ready now, and cannot be fitter, but if I partook of all the lotion offered to me I’d be a gone coon in no time. I’ve hit on a first-class plan at last. Sherry is my favourite tipple, at least I call it sherry. It’s a kind of tonic of my own invention, which suits my constitution admirably, and creates no end of an appetite.”

“You’ve always had a tidy twist, Jack,” chimed in George Brown.

“Well, yes, but it is much improved, I assure you, George, since I began drinking Wannop’s tonic,” replied Jack.

[The former Plough Inn, Bromley Common. Now a wine warehouse.]

While this conversation was proceeding a harvest festival was taking place in the large dining room adjoining, where close on 100 jolly farmers were enjoying a profuse repast supplied by the liberal and worthy hostess. Wannop had been invited to “chime in,” but as such would have been against his training instructions, he felt bound to decline the proffered hospitalities.

The rain now came down in torrents, and the outlook was anything but promising with a three-quarters of an hour’s walk back to Bromley. We learnt, however, that the coach was due at half-past seven. This raised our spirits, and on its arrival we jumped in, and were soon rattled into the cosy little station at Bromley well pleased with the result of our journey, and thoroughly satisfied with Wannop’s condition and all his surroundings.

[The Sporting Life’s accompanying advert for the upcoming fight, published alongside the interviews.]

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