Prize Fight Story Has Surprise Ending
February 25, 1970.But for a tragic accident, Tom Molineaux would have been the first American heavyweight boxing champion of the world. And thereby hangs a wonderful story uncovered by Historian John Bangs.Tom was a Negro slave on an early Virginia plantation. A quiet and peace loving young man, he one day had to defend himself against a Negro bully from a nearby estate. In a fierce battle of bare knuckles, he soundly thrashed his opponent much to the delight of his master who was so thrilled by the feat that he gave Tom his freedom.
Now it so happened that Tom Molineaux had been inspired by stories of the fistic deeds of a prominent Virginia gentleman who as a young man had been the bare knuckles champion of Virginia. His former master also was a great admirer of this former champion, and having heard that England was the center of the fistic world, he paid Tom's passage across the Atlantic. Molineaux, after disposing of numerous "unknowns," began his sensational climb to the top and the right to fight the champion, Tom Cribb, for the title on December 10, 1810 at Cophall Common.Twenty thousand persons gathered to see the great fight. Molineaux, in superb fighting condition, made a punching bag of Cribb for 30 rounds.
As the 31st round began, Molineaux rushed Cribb and dropped him with a right hand smash. But Tom stumbled trying to get out of Cribb's way, lost his balance and pitched headlong into a ring post. The impact knocked him unconscious.Both men were revived for the 32nd round and, by the ring rules of the day, were shoved out into mid-ring and made to continue fighting.
They staggered through the round without a semblance of a blow. In the 33rd, Cribb gathered every ounce of his remaining strength and drove his right to Molineaux's face. Tom went down and out.That blow was the end of Tom Molineaux's career, for he had fractured his skull when he struck the ring post.
So disappeared from the boxing world a gallant Negro who with his bare fists had won his freedom from slavery and, but for a tragic accident, would have been crowned the first American heavyweight champion of the world.But there was an even greater champion in the background whose bare knuckle feats had served as an inspiration for Tom Molineaux's climb from slavery to near championship. This man was the son of a well-to-do family. He loved a hard fight; strong and husky he developed great skill as a bare knuckles fighter. This fighting, of course, he had to do in secret because his family would have disowned him had they known of his escapades.
Nevertheless, by the time he was 16 years of age, this boy had gained such a wide reputation in fistic affairs that he was acknowledged bare knuckles boxing champion of Virginia. In all types of athletic activity he far outstripped his schoolmates, particularly in wrestling and weight throwing. It was said that he could out jump anybody in the State of Virginia. In later life, when he had long since recorded historic deeds in other fields, he still maintained his sinewy, well-proportioned strength.
At the age of 40 he engaged in a contest at some village games and, competing against the best of the local talent, hurled an iron bar farther than anybody else. At Monmouth, Lafayette saw him and said, "Never have I beheld so superb a man!".But his boxing and athletic feats have long since been forgotten because of his victories in a greater arena. You see, the Virginia gentleman who inspired Tom Molineaux to boxing fame and fortune was America's greatest champion -GEORGE WASHINGTON - THE FATHER OF OUR COUNTRY.
Lindsey Williams is a Sun columnist who can be contacted at:.LinWms@earthlink.net.LinWms@lindseywilliams.org.
Website: http://www.lindseywilliams.org with several hundred of Lin's Editorial & At Large articles written over 40 years.Also featured in its entirety is Lin's groundbreaking book "Boldly Onward," that critically analyzes and develops theories about the original Spanish explorers of America. (fully indexed/searchable).Article Source: http://EzineArticles.
By: Lindsey Williams
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