“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)

“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

Lads on tour! Introducing Jack Wannop’s New Cross High Hat Brigade

Sitting here almost a year into the pandemic, on a freezing, grey, miserable evening, months since I saw a friend, it seemed fitting to bring you a little story about happier, sunnier, more sociable times.  I cannot find out much about why Jack Wannop started the New Cross High Hat Brigade but can deduce from… Read More Lads on tour! Introducing Jack Wannop’s New Cross High Hat Brigade

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]