Born in slavery, Bill Richmond fought tirelessly to become the greatest African American sports boxer of his time.
Born to be a warrior
On July 19, 1821, King George IV ascended the throne to rule England during a lavish coronation at the Palace of Westminster. In the dazzling palace, with solemn rituals, one was surprised and puzzled when 18 large figures appeared, especially among them a black man.
It was one of the top boxers in England, and also the most prestigious athletes of the time. But the fact that a black man had the honor of attending the King’s coronation was extremely rare in conservative 19th-century English society.
Bill Richmond was born a slave on Staten Island, New York in 1763 and grew up in the family of Richard Charlton, a wealthy pastor of St. Peter’s Church. Then an accidental meeting in the summer of 1776 changed the life of the slave boy.
That day, Brigadier General Percy, commander of British forces in the United States, entered a bustling pub where his soldiers were having a cup of tea. A battle broke out, and a lone protagonist defending himself became the center of attention: the 13-year-old Bill Richmond. General Percy was impressed by the boy’s fighting spirit, after which he persuaded Pastor Charlton to sell the young man.
In the 1700s, pugilism, also known as boxing, was one of the most popular sports in England and was probably the number one after horse racing. Initially General Percy arranged pugilism matches for Richmond solely to entertain his guests, and the black boy’s opponents were often the most “evil” British soldiers Percy could find. see.
The famous boxer
In 1777, Percy sent the young man to northern England, attending a school in Yorkshire. After marrying and having a child with a white woman, in 1795, Richmond moved to London and became the boxing coach of the Camelford Lord Thomas Pitt, a former navy officer who loved boxing.
Together Pitt and Richmond attended prizefighting matches (barefoot boxing), the boxers were not wearing gloves and the match could last a lot. Prizefighting is similar to today’s MMA or UFC matches, really brutal and bloody.
But it was not until 36 years old that Richmond entered the professional boxing career. In 1804, Richmond faced the notorious and invincible warrior George Maddox. Although the match lasted 9 innings, Richmond did not win, but his effort was a victory. Maddox often kills an opponent in just a few rounds, and it is unthinkable for a rookie to fight 9 rounds with him.