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]

“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