Searching for Clever Dick Leary and George Brown, the New Cross Hercules

It has all gone a little quiet here on the Grappling with History blog, my apologies. I’m currently working on my MA dissertation about Jack Wannop and his New Cross gymnasiums; researching and writing a lengthy blog post on Burnley wrestler J. W. Price (1870 – 1957); and still hoping to put together an article… Read More Searching for Clever Dick Leary and George Brown, the New Cross Hercules

“Here we find the courageous Cumbrian trying conclusions with half a pint of bitter” [Finding Wannop’s Gymnasium – Part II]

Trying to find the exact location of Wannop’s Gymnasium in New Cross has been one of the most time-consuming and frustrating parts of my research. As explained in a previous post, which pieced together all the evidence collected on my hunt and took an educated guess at an address, Wannop doesn’t appear to have been… Read More “Here we find the courageous Cumbrian trying conclusions with half a pint of bitter” [Finding Wannop’s Gymnasium – Part II]

“I’m Not So Black As I Am Painted” – The Violent Life of Jack Davenport (Part II)

Herbert Placke went down in history as standing nearly seven feet tall, although other reports suggest he was probably somewhere around 6ft 6, perhaps 6ft 10. Even without media exaggerations, the Dutchman towered over Jack Davenport, who was no small man for his era at 5ft 9. Placke had arrived in England from Australia and… Read More “I’m Not So Black As I Am Painted” – The Violent Life of Jack Davenport (Part II)

“I’m Not So Black As I Am Painted” – The Violent Life of Jack Davenport (Part I)

Jack Davenport was angry. The young American, fortified with drink and brooding over his wrongs – real or imaginary – threw punches indiscriminately as more than a dozen policemen rained down blows with fists and truncheons. Finally, subdued, he was dragged once again to a holding cell. Did the police have it in for him… Read More “I’m Not So Black As I Am Painted” – The Violent Life of Jack Davenport (Part I)

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

A Chat With the Champions Part I: JEM SMITH IN TRAINING

I present to you here, in full, a copy of The Sporting Life‘s interview with Jem Smith which appeared in print on Saturday 28 September 1889, two days before his boxing match with Jack Wannop. I have introduced paragraphs for ease-of-reading, and inserted an occasional photograph, but the text is otherwise reproduced verbatim. It is… Read More A Chat With the Champions Part I: JEM SMITH IN TRAINING

“Had he been in any shape, I think the result would have been entirely different, for no gamer man ever entered the ring…” [Wannop V Godfrey, Part II]

Word arrived in England on March 29th 1889 that Wannop had been knocked out in the sixth round, the fight with Godfrey lasting a total of 22 minutes. Seemingly every regional paper in the country carried the news, delivered from Boston via cablegram. The Sportsman went into detail on March 30. By way of introduction,… Read More “Had he been in any shape, I think the result would have been entirely different, for no gamer man ever entered the ring…” [Wannop V Godfrey, Part II]

“No sir, I won’t fight any more in this city, and you can put that just as strong as you like…” [Wannop V Godfrey, Part I]

As 1889 began, The Sporting Life received word from Jack Wannop that he wasn’t quite done with America yet, despite his stay now reaching ten months.  Jack had struck gold, he said, by “knocking the brass off” some champions in the Far West and now the money was finally rolling in. My last post suggests… Read More “No sir, I won’t fight any more in this city, and you can put that just as strong as you like…” [Wannop V Godfrey, Part I]

WANNOP IS A WHIRLWIND: A drunk boxing ring fire and a mid-match escape

Following his defeat at the hands and shoulders of Evan Lewis and Duncan McMillan, Wannop caught a break of a sort in July 1888. With his reputation as a wrestler severely dented, Wannop gloved up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His opponent was Jim Fell, a fellow Englishman. Born just a few months after Wannop in… Read More WANNOP IS A WHIRLWIND: A drunk boxing ring fire and a mid-match escape