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Tom Molineaux

(1784-1818), Boxer

Sitter in 2 portraits
Born a slave on a plantation in Georgetown, Virginia, he was trained by his father as a bare-knuckle boxer, fighting other slaves for the pleasure of plantation owners. After a particularly impressive victory where he made his owner a substantial fortune from winning bets, he was given $500 and granted his freedom. He arrived in England in 1809, expecting to earn money as a prizefighter. Trained by Bill Richmond, another freed American slave and prizefighter, his most famous matches were against the British champion Tom Cribb. In their first fight together in 1810 Molineaux proved himself a worthy opponent, fighting until the 35th round when Cribb was declared the winner on a technical decision. Having become a national celebrity, 15,000 people came to see the return fight in 1811. Perhaps spurred by the crowd's abusive and racial taunts against Molineaux, Cribb brutally knocked him out in the 11th round, breaking his jaw.

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Tom Molineaux, by Unknown artist - NPG 5813

Tom Molineaux

by Unknown artist
Staffordshire portrait figure, circa 1810-1815
NPG 5813

Tom Molineaux ('Molineaux'), by and published by Robert Dighton - NPG D13314

Tom Molineaux ('Molineaux')

by and published by Robert Dighton
hand-coloured etching, published January 1812
NPG D13314

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