Antique arched wooden panel commemorating the famous 1811 rematch between bare knuckle protagonists Tom Cribb vs Tom Molineaux.
Wooden 3 panel painting of great historical importance relating to the bare knuckle era and the 1811 rematch between Tom Cribb and Tom Molineaux who are depicted in typical bare knuckle pugilism style made of ceramic, beautifully hand painted detailing the wonderful fighting attire of the period along with a poetic verse that reads "To all gentleman, lovers and patrons of the Art of Self Defence".
Fifteen thousand fight fans attended the rematch on September 28, 1811 at Thistleton Gap in the County of Rutland between Cribb and Molineaux. Molineaux started strong and closed the champion’s eye. Cribb landed several shots to Molineaux’s body. A low blow in the sixth slowed him down. With Molineaux’s mobility compromised, Cribb began headhunting. Cribb broke the American’s jaw in round nine and stopped the challenger in the 11th to retain his title after 19 minutes and 10 seconds.
Tom Cribb retired for good after the fight and was feted till the day he died (on May 11, 1848, at the ripe old age of 66). Molineaux continued to fight, and to gorge, imbibe and fornicate.
Molineaux had an impromptu bout against Power in 1811; lost a wrestling match to John Snow in 1812; won a 25-rounder over Jack Carter in 1813; was floored by William Fuller in 1814; and lost to George Cooper in 1815, in his final fight.
After doing a stint in debtor’s prison, Molineaux left England for Ireland where he fought exhibitions in exchange for drinks.
Looking like “a walking skeleton,” in the words of Pierce Egan, Molineaux died penniless in Dublin in 1818 at the age of 34. The cause of death was liver failure.
Tom Cribb vs Tom Molineaux (1st meeting)
It is December of 1810. Britain is the only country with a large, organized boxing establishment. Boxing in Britain is entering its Golden Age. The Queensberry Rules do not yet exist. Boxing is bareknuckled. Its rules are simple and few:
*Fights are with bare fists.
*No kicking, biting, gouging, or elbowing.
*Grappling and throws are allowed above the waist.
*A round ends when one fighter is knocked down. Fighters are given 30 seconds to rest, and the next round begins.
*There are no judges to score the bout. The fight ends only with complete unconsciousness from one of the fighters or when a fighter quits.
It is an era of high patriotic feeling-Napoleon is reigning over most of the continent, and Britain has been waging a costly war against him for years. This bellicose, war-ridden environment is perfect for pugilism, which is flourishing. Although well known and well attended during the 18th century, bare knuckle pugilism reached its peak in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A succession of brilliant champions Daniel Mendoza, John Jackson, Jem Belcher, Henry Pearce and John Gully made their appearance. Right now, the champion is Tom Cribb, who many hail as the greatest of the lot. He is 30, at the height of his powers, and undefeated.
Weight: Around 200 pounds
Cribb was a hard, accurate puncher. While considered by some critics to be slow, Cribb's style was awkward and effective. He was a skilled man in the ring, and his style gave many of the best of his era considerable problems. He was also quite strong, a good wrestler (important in those days), and incredibly durable he took massive beatings in many of his fights and refused to quit.
Enter Tom Molineaux. Molineaux was a former slave from America. He learned English pugilism, of a sort, in order to fight in the brutal matches that slave owners arranged from time to time between their slaves. When he came to England, he was still considered an extremely crude fighter, but time and the tutelage of Bill Richmond (another former slave and a skilled pugilist) slowly managed to shape Molineaux into a very dangerous fighter. By 1810, he had defeated Tom Blake the major challenger to Cribb's title and put forward a challenge to Cribb himself.
Weight: Around 200 pounds
Molineaux was a tough, durable fighter. In his fights with Cribb and Blake, he showed himself able to take a huge amount of punishment perhaps the only man tougher than Molineaux at the time was Cribb himself. Molineaux was also a massive puncher, having blown out Blake and an earlier, unnamed Bristol fighter quite handily. He was also very strong and had incredible endurance. The only weak point in his armour was his relative lack of skill while Richmond managed to eliminate some of his stylistic problems, the raw edges were still obvious.
Cribb was in a state of semi-retirement by this point, and had been looking forward to the quiet life. Unfortunately, the quiet life looked like it had to be put off for a while, as all of England was calling for Cribb to beat the upstart. People who had never been interested in pugilism before were suddenly enthralled by the possibility of the Cribb vs Molineaux fight. It was discussed in church sermons, social gatherings, and even in Parliament.
Strangely, the main problem that England had with Molineaux had nothing to do with his colour the extreme racism of the late 19th century was still some time off. In fact, the British people were quite willing to give Molineaux credit as an excellent boxer, and his numerous affairs with white women were by and large overlooked. The much greater offence, in their eyes, was the hideous fact that he was an AMERICAN! The idea that a foreigner could take the sacred trophy of British sporting was unthinkable.
Whatever their reasons, the English made it quite clear to Cribb that he couldn't dodge Molineaux, and that retirement had to wait. Cribb consented, and he and Molineaux met at Copthorne Gap in December of 1810. The defending champion was still out of shape from his semi-retirement, and was carrying several excess pounds of fat. Molineaux was in much better shape, but he was still comparatively crude stylistically. Most importantly, though, Cribb underestimated Molineaux. He would come to regret this misjudgment in the fight to come.
Pierce Egan's Boxiana is the source for the majority of this fight narration. It was composed at a time shortly after this Cribb vs Molineaux fight took place by a man who had seen most of the fights of the era. The incident alluded to in the 29th round is mentioned in most of the sources dealing with the fight, although there is some controversy about which round it took place in. The 29th is generally considered correct.
Egan's wording is full of arcane word usage from a boxing vocabulary no longer in use, so liberty has been taken in "translating" the fight for ease of reading.
ROUND 1-Molineaux lands the first punch of the fight a left handed punch which does little real damage. Cribb returns and misses, blocks Molineaux's counter punch, and lands a solid left under Molineaux's eye. The two exchange two more blows and then go into a clinch. Cribb throws Molineaux, ending the round.
ROUND 2-Molineaux rallies and lands an ineffective left on Cribb, who returns with a vicious hit to Molineaux's right eyebrow, staggering him. Cribb moves in on the staggered Molineaux, and they land several shots on each other. Cribb is already showing his advantage in skill, but Molineaux manages to land a brutal blow to the mouth which makes Cribb's teeth chatter. Cribb's mouth starts bleeding.
ROUND 3-Both fighters look for openings. Molineaux throws a shot to Cribb's head, which is blocked. Cribb smartly counter punches with a vicious right hand to the ribs, which floors Molineaux.
ROUND 4-Molineaux rallies, moving forward after the champion until Cribb stops him with a punch to the face. He is knocked down, due in part to the wet and slippery ground (it is a cold, stormy winter day in England).
ROUND 5-Both fighters show a great amount of skill. Molineaux begins by swinging and missing at Cribb, who counter punches spiritedly. Molineaux blocks his counter punches and lands a huge punch on the champion's left eye. They move to inside fighting (half-arms length), where they exchange several nasty punches for half a minute. Molineaux is floored with a weak punch from the champion.
ROUND 6-Molineaux plants a nice punch on Cribb's face, who collapsed to the ground in bad shape.
ROUND 7-Cribb rallies, flooring Molineaux with a punch to the side of the head.
ROUND 8-Cribb manages to block and slip Molineaux's punches, but he is confronted by an adversary who keeps coming. Cribb lands brutal punches to the head and body, mostly with his left, but Molineaux seems impervious to punishment. Molineaux stands and exchanges blows with Cribb until he is finally dropped from a huge accumulation of punches.
ROUND 9-The fight no longer looks like an easy win for Cribb. Molineaux is much more durable than anticipated. Cribb's head is badly swelled up on the left side, and although Molineaux's head doesn't look much better, Cribb is starting to tire. He has been fighting too fast, and is out of shape. Molineaux bores in on Cribb again, landing a blow on Cribb's head and knocking him off his feet.
ROUND 10-Molineaux is starting to show weakness of his own, but once again charges in against Cribb. Cribb replies with many punches to Molineaux's head, but Molineaux, incredibly, ignores the punishment. They keep fighting close, wrestling one another until both fall.
ROUND 11-Cribb starts to box on the retreat (this is considered to be Cribb's specialty). Molineaux keeps after him, but his blows start to seem feeble. Nevertheless, he manages to throw Cribb heavily.
ROUND 12-Molineaux rallies again, punching at Cribb several times. Cribb returns with a vicious body blow (which doesn't seem to bother Molineaux). Molineaux then hits Cribb repeatedly to the head and throws him.
ROUND 13-Molineaux charges in in typical style, and receives a blow to the face from Cribb. Cribb is exhausted and badly damaged, and falls from his own blow.
ROUND 14-Molineaux charges in, shoving at the champion until he falls without a blow being exchanged.
ROUND 15-Cribb revives slightly, hitting Molineaux over his guard. Both show skill in a rapid exchange of blows, until Cribb knocks Molineaux down with a punch to the throat.
ROUND 16-Both exchange punches, but Molineaux falls from exhaustion.
ROUND 17-Both fighters' spirits seem to be reviving, and they both exchange good punches. Molineaux then closes with Cribb, throws him, and deliberately lands on him.
ROUND 18-Cribb lands a brutal body shot on Molineaux, who returns to Cribb's head. The champion knocks Molineaux off his feet with a blow to the forehead. Both are exhausted.
ROUND 19-Telling the two apart by this stage would be impossible if they weren't of different colours. Cribb boxes defensively, retreating as Molineaux bores in. Molineaux traps Cribb against the ropes, crushing him against them as he punches the champion. Cribb is unable to fall down, and takes massive punishment. He then puts Cribb into a headlock and hammers away, not allowing him to fall. Molineaux finally drops Cribb, who seems unconscious.
ROUND 20-Molineaux charges in, bringing Cribb down.
ROUND 21-Cribb lands two blows on Molineaux's head and body. Molineaux lands a punch to Cribb's face, and then throws the champion.
ROUND 22-"of no importance"- Egan
ROUND 23-Both combatants are unable to do much to each other, as they are both exhausted. Cribb lands a blow to Molineaux's left eye. Molineaux runs in, lands a great body shot, and throws him heavily.
ROUND 24-Molineaux begins to revive; the two exchange punches and Cribb is thrown.
ROUND 25-Cribb is still stunned from the last throw. He tries to land a punch on Molineaux's left eye, but his blow is blocked and he is knocked down.
ROUND 26-Both try to recruit their strength again for a great effort. Molineaux's left eye is closed, and Cribb goes after his right. Molineaux wards Cribb's blows off for the most part, but falls from a slight hit.
ROUND 27-The two wrestle and lean on each other, and both collapse.
ROUND 28-Cribb misses a blow at Molineaux, and is knocked off his feet.
ROUND 29-Molineaux runs in, but is stopped by Cribb with a hit to the right eye, and he falls down
NOTE: It is in the 29th round that a "long count" was said to take place. Cribb was unable to come up for the 29th round, having taken too much punishment. Sensing this, his seconds accused Molineaux of holding pistol balls in his hands to increase punching power. A row ensues, giving Cribb time to clear his head. It should be noted that Cribb himself had no part in these proceedings.
ROUND 30-Molineaux, sensing that his eye was a severe problem, tries to end the contest. He dashes in, ignoring the punches to his head that he receives, and throws the champion hard. He decides that if he wins, he must do so by wrestling, since his distance is incorrect.
ROUND 31-Molineaux is fatigued from the last round, and is knocked down by a blow to the throat.
ROUND 32-Both stagger against each other like drunken men, and fall without a blow exchanged
ROUND 33-Molineaux astonishes the crowd and rushes in, shoving Cribb down. Neither of their blows are forceful by this stage.
ROUNDS 34-39 Cribb is battered, but manages to land slightly better than Molineaux. In ROUND 39, Cribb clearly has the better round, having his way with his opponent. Molineaux declares "me can fight no more" but is persuaded to try one more round. He agrees, and then collapses unconscious. Cribb is declared the victor. The fight is over.
The age of this wonderful item is unknown but appears to be very old and 4 small holes would indicate at some stage has been on display perhaps in a public house. Measures 30" x 15" x 3". This piece is made from solid wood and is considerably heavy.
Bare Knuckle - Part 1/Channel 4
Tom Cribb (8 July 1781 – 11 May 1848) was an English bare knuckle boxer of the 19th century, so successful that he became World champion.
Cribb was born near Bristol but moved to London before starting professional fighting. He undertook a series of fights between 1805 and 1812 when he retired, becoming a coal merchant and then publican. His career has been commemorated with the name of a pub and in literature.
Tom Molineaux vs Tom Cribb - 1811
Born in Wick which is near the Hanham area of Bristol, Cribb moved to London at the age of 13 and after working as a bell-hanger he sought work as a coal porter in Wapping.
His first fight was on 7 January 1805 at Wood Green in Middlesex, now part of north London. Victory here, over George Maddox followed by another a month later, over Tom Blake persuaded him to become a professional pugilist, under the supervision of Captain Robert Barclay. In 1807 Cribb beat Jem Belcher. In 1810 Cribb was awarded the British title. On 10 December 1810 he fought an American, former slave Tom Molineaux, at Shenington Hollow in Oxfordshire.
Cribb beat Molineaux in 35 rounds and became World champion. The fight was controversial for two reasons. Molineaux was injured when the crowd invaded the ring, and Cribb at one point seemed to have taken longer than the specified time to return to the centre of the ring.[Cribb retained his title in 1811 by beating Molineaux at Thistleton Gap in Rutland in 11 rounds before a large crowd. Cribb had also beaten Molineaux's trainer Bill Richmond.
In 1812, aged 31, he retired to become a coal merchant (and part-time boxing trainer). Later he became a publican, running the Union Arms, Panton Street, close to Haymarket in central London.
George Nicholls was the only fighter to defeat Cribb (20 July 1805). The foremost prize-fighting reporter, Pierce Egan, was aware that some "friends of the CHAMPION" had encouraged the myth that Cribb enjoyed an unbeaten career by "withholding the name of his vanquisher" (Boxiana, vol. 1).
In 1839 he retired to Woolwich in south-east London where he died in 1848, aged 66. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magadalen's, Woolwich, where a monument to his memory was erected.
Cribb's tomb in the shape of a lion resting his paw on an urn still stands in Saint Mary's Gardens in Woolwich. Also in Woolwich, a road in the Royal Arsenal area has been named in his honour.
The Tom Cribb pub is located at 36 Panton Street, Haymarket, London. This is the same address as the Union Arms, which was numbered 26 Panton Street, but later renumbered.
There is a popular local legend in the Bristol area that Cribbs Causeway, a road not far from Hanham that has given its name to a major out-of-town shopping mall, retail park and entertainment complex, was named after Tom Cribb. Despite being proved to be false this has not stopped the legend from continuing.
Tom Hyer, first recognized American Heavyweight Champion, portrayed the character "Tom Cribb" in a scene from Pierce Egan's "Tom and Jerry, or Life in London" during a single performance at the National Theatre (Boston, Massachusetts), 9 March 1849.
An English footwear brand named after Thomas Cribb existed between 2003 - 2007. The brand name "Thomas Cribb" is currently registered to the creators of the brand.
Tom Cribb also features prominently in George MacDonald Fraser’s novel Black Ajax, a fictionalised account of Tom Molineaux's life.
In Charles Dickens' comic novel Martin Chuzzlewit (ch.9), Cribb is humorously cited as the inventor of a defensive stance used by the boy Bailey, as the landlady Mrs Todgers aims a smack at his head.
He is mentioned in one episode of the Victorian crime drama Cribb, in which one of Cribb's men speculates whether he is descended from the famous boxer. The episode is largely centred on prize-fighting.
Cribb's fights with Molineaux was turned into a 2014 play by Ed Viney called Prize Fighters.
Cribb is also mentioned in novel "MAULER" by Shawn Williamson. He appears to introduce the exotic Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine), the hero of story, also known as Mauler and Cu´chulain. Cribb introduces the dark exploration of the animal through the market of violence, explored by Captain Potter as a cruel dog fighter against mastiff dogs in White Heaven, 19th Century.
Thomas "The Moor" Molineaux (1784 – 4 August 1818), although usually called Tom Molineaux (which is sometimes spelled Molyneaux) was an African-American bare knuckle boxer and former slave. He spent much of his career in Great Britain and Ireland, where he had some notable successes. He arrived in England in 1809 and started his fighting career there in 1810. It was his two fights against Tom Cribb, widely viewed as the Champion of England that brought fame to Molineaux, although he lost both contests. His prizefighting career ended in 1815. After a tour that took him to Scotland and Ireland, he died in Galway, Ireland in 1818, aged 34.
Born into slavery in Virginia, Molineaux's surname was taken from his owner, a planter. He was trained by his father, also a fighter, as was Molineaux's twin brother. He boxed with other slaves to entertain plantation owners. Molineaux earned his owner a large sum of money in winnings on bets, was granted his freedom, and moved to New York where he lived for 5 years. He subsequently emigrated to England where he expected to be able to earn money as a Prize Fighter. According to one source he worked for several years for a Mr Pinckney, who later became Ambassador for the United States in London.
Career In Europe
Molineaux found his way to London in 1809 where he made contact with Bill Richmond, another ex-slave turned boxer who ran the pub the Horse and Dolphin in Leicester Square, London. Molineaux's first fight in England took place at Tothill Fields, Westminster on 24 July 1810. Molineaux won the fight, beating Jack Burrows of Bristol in front of a small crowd in 65 minutes. Bill Richmond seconded Molineaux for the fight.
Molineaux's second fight in England was against Tom Blake whose nickname was "Tom Tough". The fight took place at Epple Baynear Margate on August 21 1810, the American ending up victorious after 8 rounds. On 3 December 1810, having been trained by Bill Richmond, Molineaux fought Tom Cribb at Shenington Hollow in Oxfordshire for the English title. According to the writer Pierce Egan, who was present, Molineaux stood at five foot eight and a quarter inches tall, and for this fight weighed "fourteen stone two" (198 pounds (90 kg)). Egan wrote that few people, including Cribb, expected the fight to last very long; there was betting that Cribb would win in the first ten rounds. However, Molineaux proved a powerful and intelligent fighter and the two battered each other heavily. There was a disturbance in the 19th round as Molineaux and Cribb were locked in a wrestler's hold (legal under the rules of the time) so that neither could hit the other nor escape. The referee stood by, uncertain as to whether he should break the two apart, and the dissatisfied crowd pushed into the ring. In the confusion Molineaux hurt his left hand; Egan could not tell if it had been broken. There was also dispute over whether Cribb had managed to return to the line before the allowed 30 seconds had passed. If he had not, Molineaux would have won, but in the confusion the referee could not tell, and the fight went on. After the 34th round Molineaux said he could not continue but his second persuaded him to return to the ring, where he was defeated in the 35th round.
Two days after the fight, Richmond took Molineaux to the Stock Exchange in London where the boxer received an ovation and was presented with 45 guineas.
On 21 May 1811, Molineaux took on William Rimmer, a 22 year old fighter from Lancashire. The bout took place at Moulsey Hurst and Molineaux won after 21 rounds.
A return fight with Tom Cribb took place on 28 September 1811 at Thistleton Gap in Rutland and was watched by 15,000 people. Egan, who was present, said that both fighters "weighed less by more than a stone", which means Molineaux weighed at most 185 pounds (84 kg) for this fight. As preparation for the bout, Cribb had undertaken extensive training under the guidance of Captain Barclay. Molineaux, though still hitting Cribb with great power, was out-fought. Cribb broke his jaw and finally knocked him out in the 11th round. After the fight Richmond and Molineaux parted.
Molineaux fought 4 subsequent bouts, winning three and losing one. On 2 April 1813, Molineaux fought Jack Carter at Remington, Gloucestershire, the American winning after 25 rounds. After the fight, Molineaux went on tour, where he sparred in exhibition bouts. In 1813 he fought Abraham Denton at Derby, his opponent being described as a "country pugilist" with the stature of a giant. Moilineaux won the contest. The tour took him to Scotland and on 27 May 1814, he took on a boxer named Fuller at Bishopstorff, Paisley, Ayrshire. 2 rounds were fought, lasting 68 minutes, Molineaux being awarded the contest. On the 11 March 1815, Molineaux fought and lost to George Cooper at Corset Hill, Lanarkshire.
Post Boxing Life
Molineaux's prizefighting career ended in 1815. However, he continued to show his talents in sparring exhibitions. After his visit to Scotland, he toured Ireland where in 1817 he was reported to be in the northern part of the island. After a stint in a debtors' prison he became increasingly dependent on alcohol.
He died penniless in the bandroom of the 77th Regiment in Galway, Ireland, on 4 August 1818. He was 34 years old.
*A hand coloured etching of Molineaux by Robert Dighton is held in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
*A fictionalised account of Molineaux's boxing career is the basis of Black Ajax, by George MacDonald Fraser.
*Thomas Molineaux is featured in the short animation The Prize Fighter, directed by Jason Young.
*Tom Molyneaux is featured, as a ghost, in the short story Apparition in the Prize Ring by Robert E. Howard, who was a boxing fan.
*Molineaux's fight with Cribb was turned into a 2014 play called Prize Fighters (based on the book Bristol Boys by Jack Allen), by director Ed Viney and was performed in the Tobacco Factory in 2015.
*Molineaux's return fight with Cribb in 1811 at Thistleton Gap is referred to in Regency Buck, a novel by Georgette Heyer.
*Molineux was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.
*In 2010, Molineux was inducted into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.
*Pugilism.org ranked him as one of the five hardest men of the pugilistic era.