Tom Cribb

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Tom Cribb
Tom Cribb etching.jpg
Statistics
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Nationality British
Born (1781-07-08)8 July 1781
Bristol
Died 11 May 1848(1848-05-11) (aged 66)
London

Tom Cribb (8 July 1781 – 11 May 1848) was an English bare-knuckle boxer of the 19th century, so successful that he became world champion.

Cribb was born near Bristol but moved to London before starting professional fighting. He undertook a series of fights between 1805 and 1812 when he retired, becoming a coal merchant and then publican. His career has been commemorated with the name of a pub and in literature.

Early life[edit]

Tom Molineaux vs Tom Cribb, 1811

Born in Wick which is near the Hanham area of Bristol, Cribb moved to London at the age of 13 and after working as a bell-hanger he sought work as a coal porter in Wapping.

Boxing career[edit]

His first fight was with George Maddox on 7 January 1805 at Wood Green in Middlesex, now part of north London.[1] Victory here, over Maddox followed by another a month later, over Tom Blake[2] persuaded him to become a professional pugilist, under the supervision of Captain Robert Barclay.

George Nicholls was the only fighter to defeat Cribb, on 20 July 1805. Later, the foremost prizefighting reporter, Pierce Egan, stated that he was aware that some "friends of the CHAMPION" had encouraged the myth that Cribb enjoyed an unbeaten career by "withholding the name of his vanquisher" (Boxiana, vol. 1).[3]

In 1807 Cribb beat Jem Belcher. In 1810 Cribb was awarded the British title. On 10 December 1810 he fought an American, former slave Tom Molineaux, at Shenington Hollow in Oxfordshire.[4] Cribb beat Molineaux in 35 rounds and became World champion. The fight was controversial for two reasons: Molineaux was injured when the crowd invaded the ring, and Cribb at one point seemed to have taken longer than the specified time to return to the centre of the ring.[2] Cribb retained his title in 1811 by beating Molineaux at Thistleton Gap in Rutland in 11 rounds before a large crowd. Cribb had also beaten Molineaux's trainer Bill Richmond.

After retirement[edit]

In 1812, aged 31, he retired to become a coal merchant (and part-time boxing trainer). Later he became a publican, running the Union Arms, Panton Street, close to Haymarket in central London.

In 1839 he retired to Woolwich in south-east London where he died in 1848, aged 66. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magadalen's, Woolwich – where a monument to his memory was erected.

Legacy[edit]

Tom Cribb's tomb in Woolwich
The Tom Cribb pub, London

Cribb's tomb, in the shape of a lion resting his paw on an urn, still stands in St Mary's Gardens in Woolwich. Also in Woolwich, a road in the Royal Arsenal area has been named in his honour.

The Tom Cribb pub is located at 36 Panton Street, Haymarket, London. This is the same address as the Union Arms, which was originally 26 Panton Street, but later renumbered.

There is a popular local legend in the Bristol area that Cribbs Causeway, a road not far from Hanham that has given its name to a major out-of-town shopping mall, retail park and entertainment complex, was named after Tom Cribb. Despite being proved to be false, this has not stopped the legend from continuing.

Tom Hyer, first recognized American Heavyweight Champion, portrayed the character "Tom Cribb" in a scene from Pierce Egan's "Tom and Jerry, or Life in London" during a single performance at the National Theatre (Boston, Massachusetts), 9 March 1849.

An English footwear brand named after Thomas Cribb existed between 2003 and 2007. The brand name "Thomas Cribb" is currently registered to the creators of the brand.

Tom Cribb also features prominently in George MacDonald Fraser’s novel Black Ajax, a fictionalised account of Tom Molineaux's life.

In Charles Dickens' comic novel Martin Chuzzlewit (ch.9), Cribb is humorously cited as the inventor of a defensive stance used by the boy Bailey, as the landlady Mrs Todgers aims a smack at his head.

He is mentioned in one episode of the Victorian crime drama Cribb, in which one of Cribb's men speculates whether he is descended from the famous boxer. The episode is largely centred on prize-fighting.

Cribb's fights with Molineaux, was turned into a 2014 play by Ed Viney called Prize Fighters.[5]

Cribb is also mentioned in the novel "Mauler" by Shawn Williamson. He appears to introduce the exotic Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine), the hero of the story, also known as Mauler and Cu´chulain. Cribb introduces the dark exploration of the animal through the market of violence, explored by Captain Potter as a cruel dog fighter in White Heaven, 19th Century.[6]

Cribb is memorialized in The Letter of Marque, twelfth in the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O'Brian. In the novel, one of the captain's favorite personal long cannons is named "Tom Cribb".

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

References
  1. ^ Miles, Henry Downes (1906). Pugilistica: the history of British boxing containing lives of the most celebrated pugilists. 1. Edinburgh: J.Grant. pp. 242–277. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Egan, Boxiana, Volume I, 1813.
  3. ^ Snowdon, David (2013). Writing the Prizefight: Pierce Egan's Boxiana World.
  4. ^ Lobel, Mary D and Crossley, Alan (Eds.) (1969). Victoria County History: A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 9. pp. 171–188.
  5. ^ Pamela Parkes (22 June 2014). "Boxing: When a freed slave fought a sporting star". BBC News. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  6. ^ WILLIAMSON, SHAWN. MAULER. Hayloft Publishing, Cumbria. England, 2005.
Sources

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Tom Cribb at Wikimedia Commons