David writes… You sure as hell won't have seen this one coming.
It's a fight. A boxing match fight. Held on January 7, 1805 in Wood Green, in northeast London.
And what a boxing match. It goes 76 rounds. Two hours and ten minutes.
What a boxing match as well because it's the first public contest of the greatest British pugilist of them all, Tom Cribb.
And Cribb wins it.
And some programme notes about "the greatest British pugilist of them all." Cribb was from Gloucestershire. Came to London when he was 13. Worked as a bellhanger. And a porter at public wharves. Because he was a coal heaver he was known as the Black Diamond. He also had a stint as a sailor. And I, David, really like this one: Cribbs' athletic career twilighting he essayed, unsuccessfully, a venture as a coal merchant at Hungerford Wharf. This will have been about 10 years before Charles Dickens' traumatic – and formative – "engagement" with that same neck of the London woods. And after that Cribb underwent, as his biographer puts it, "the usual metamorphosis from a pugilist to a publican".
Anything else? Yes. Cribb came that close to a career clean sheet. He only lost one fight.
And not forgetting the tale's footnote: Cribbs' opponent in the January 7, 1805 pas de deux in N22 was George Maddox.
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