Britainís First Heavyweight Boxing Champ


History on 8th December

Britainís First Heavyweight Boxing Champ

Wadhurst, Sussex The 8th of December 1863 AD

At the outset it should be stated that in the pre-Marquis of Queensbury Rules era Ė they were used from 1865 onwards Ė title holders can be the subject of much debate, given that bare-knuckle fighting was for some time an illegal pursuit carried on clandestinely; and that champion status was sometimes effectively by acclamation.
Thomas King, born in Stepney in East London , is generally regarded as our first world heavyweight champion. A sailor who became a docker, and not averse to the odd brawl, his reputation as a street-fighter led to training by a retired champion, Jem Ward. King lost his effort to take the English title from Jem Mace in 1862, but succeeded a year later, clearing the way for a crack at the admittedly unofficial title of American John C. Heenan, who in the dubious ways of the times had won or been accorded it in a recent drawn bout.
Their match took place as many did on a remote farm, Cockmounts, near Wadhurst in East Sussex. Heenan was a brawler and grappler, King a puncher with boxing guile. The Briton emerged victorious in the 24th round, a medium-length contest for the age.
For the record the first British world heavyweight champ in the Queensbury Rules era was Bob Fitzsimmons, born in Helston , Cornwall , who took the title in 1896 in a match in Texas; though New Zealand where his family emigrated when he was a child and America where he resided for much of his life have contesting claims on him.

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