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Jem Belcher (1781-1811), Boxer

James ('Jem') Belcher

Sitter in 1 portrait
James 'Jem' Belcher was one of the most admired prizefighters of the Regency. He was renowned for his handsome looks, impeccable manners and eccentric boxing style which involved telling jokes to his opponents at the bloodiest moments of combat. He was defeated by the rising talent, Tom Cribb in 1807 and again in 1809, leading to his retirement soon after. His many victories inspired Egan's famous history of bare-knuckle fighting, Boxiana (1812). William Hazlitt, an ardent fan, fondly recalled him in his famous essay The Fight (1821).

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Jem Belcher

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1800
NPG 5214