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Tom Molineaux, image by Robert Dighton
Tom Molineaux, a Black boxer, was born on this date in 1784.
Born a slave in Georgetown, Virginia, he began boxing other slaves while plantation owners wagered on the bouts. Finally, after defeating a man from another plantation, he was given his freedom and $500.
He traveled to New York and, in 1809, left for England to continue boxing. Bill Richmond, another freed African slave who became a notable prizefighter in England, trained Molineaux. He then won two bouts, lining him up for a title shot against British heavyweight champion Tom Crib. In December 1810, Molineaux challenged Crib in a classic encounter. After 39 rounds, Molineaux finally collapsed from exhaustion.
A rematch was held on September 28, 1811, but this time Crib had an easier time retaining his title with an 11th-round knockout. In 1814, Molineaux defeated William Fuller in a two-round fight that lasted over an hour. But the two Crib fights had made Molineaux a celebrity in England. He fought only sporadically, opting to engage in numerous sparring exhibitions. He died on August 14, 1818, in Dublin, Ireland.
Boxing Album: An Illustrated History
by Peter Brooke Bell
Smithmark Publisher, 1995