William Hague (boxer)
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James William "Iron" Hague (6 November 1885 – 18 August 1951) was a boxer born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. He was the British heavyweight champion between 1909 and 1911. He fought for the Yorkshire heavyweight title against Dick Parkes at Doncaster on 8 April 1905, winning in the fifth round. He then went on to beat a steady stream of English heavyweights, many by knockouts. He was invited to enter the Heavyweight Novice competition held at the National Sporting Club, London in January 1908. This was a series of fights of three rounds only. He won this with a series of knockouts. After a few more wins he was invited to fight Gunner Jim Moir for the English Heavyweight title on 19 April 1909. He won this in the first round with a knockout, creating a new boxing record for the fastest victory of a title. His homecoming was a splendid affair with thousands lining the streets of his home town. He defended the title once against Bill Chase, knocking him out in the sixth round, but lost it on 24 April 1911 to the up-and-coming Bombardier Billy Wells. This fight was for the first Lonsdale Belt.
Shortly after winning the title, "Iron" Hague agreed to fight Sam Langford, the coloured boxer from Canada. Langford is rated as being in the top 10 fighters of all time. Hague, controversially at the time, did not believe in a 'Colour Bar' for boxing. He was quoted as saying that "unless all men are allowed to freely compete, how can you ever find the true champion?". Langford knocked Hague out in the fourth round. Langford said in later years that in all his time in boxing no one hit him as hard as the punch he took from "Iron" Hague. This huge left from Hague knocked Langford down and he only just managed to rally. Hague had broken his hand with the punch, which marred his performance thereafter. After retiring from boxing, Hague took the King's shilling in the First World War and joined the Grenadier Guards. On discovering his former boxing glory they had him box once more on behalf of the regiment. He saw military action in several battles such as the Somme and Passchendaele. "Iron" Hague died in his daughter's arms in Mexborough aged 65 on 18 August 1951. He is buried in Mexborough Cemetery.
- Boxing News Annual 1952, War Facts Press, p. 8
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