Bill Richmond(1763-1829), Pugilist
Sitter in 1 portrait
At the end of the eighteenth century, boxing offered one of the few opportunities for men from ethnic minorities to escape servitude and anonymity. Born a slave in Staten Island, New York, Richmond became one of the most accomplished and respected boxers of the early nineteenth century. He honed his fighting talent in response to the racist abuse he had endured and became a professional boxer. He was brought to England by Lord Percy, a British soldier renowned for his humanitarianism, in 1777. He fought a famous match against the British champion Tom Cribb in 1805. His sporting celebrity status earned him the honour of being an usher at the coronation of George IV. He continued to fight until the age of 55 but retired from the ring in 1818 to establish a boxing academy in London, coaching other boxers including Tom Molineaux.
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below