Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Great Fight in England Between Caunt and Bendigo -- September 5, 2020


New York Herald, 04-October-1845

William Abednego Thompson (no relation), usually called Bendigo or The Nottingham Jester, was a great British boxer, who is sometimes referred to as the first world heavyweight champion. He introduced the southpaw stance to boxing. Bendigo fought Ben Caunt, The Torkard Giant, four times. Their fight on 05-September-1845 was their third meeting. Bendigo won all the fights except the second. 

Under the London Prize Ring Rules, contestants fought without gloves and rounds ended when one or both fighters went down. They then had 30 seconds to come up to scratch, a mark in the middle of the ring. The man who failed to come up to scratch lost the fight. Wrestling was allowed.


The Great Fight between Caunt and Bendigo for $2,000.

In consequence of the great interest excited in this country relative to the particulars and result of this affair, we have been induced to give a much fuller account, than we otherwise would have done. In addition to the amount of money pending, the championship of England, or " the belt," as respects pugilism, is the reward of the victor. There is every reason to believe, that the successful man on this occasion, will have several other powerful opponents to contend againsi, ere he be allowed to retain the victor's garland in peace.

[From the Sunday Times. Sept 14. ]

The match which, ever since the 17th of April last, on which day it was made, has excited nn extraordinary degree of interest, increasing in intensity as the period for its decision approached, was brought to a conclusion on Tuesday last, in a field close to Sutfield Green, beyond Lillingston Level, in the county of Oxford, we regret to record under circumstances which are far from calculated to sustain the reputation of British boxers, still less to dignify the office of "Champion of England." There was considerable difficulty in selecting ground lor the affair, owing to the interference of the authorities, and objections of the parties, but at length the above named spot was selected. When the ring was formed considerable violence took place by a gang of organized rowdies, who appeared determined to rule the roast for the day. Indeed, long before the fight was over, all those who were at first content to seat themselves on the grass, as peaceable spectators, were obliged to assume the perpendicular, and those who could not resist the fearful crushes from with out, were glad to retire to the rear, and to be content with a casual squint at the combatants, while the umpires and referee were at times so completely overwhelmed as to he obliged to fly within the ropes and stakes for protection. Caunt was the first to make his appearance on the ground, attended by Molyneux (the black) and Jem Turner as his seconds, Ben Butler (Caunt's uncle) having charge of the bottles, lie was loudly cheered, and was in high spirits. Bendigo attended by Mick Ward and Jack Hannan, Jem Ward and Jem Burn next arrived, and the most deafening shouts proved the extent of his popularity, while the Nottingham "roughs" flourishing tneir sticks, and surrounding the ropes and stakes, evinced a spirit of partisanship. After the first ebullition had subsided, Caunt and Bendigo shook hands, and the toss for choice of corners took place. This was won by Caunt, who took the higher ground with his back to the sun. while Bendigo, having "Hobson's choice," was constrained to take the opposite corner, the sun shining full in his face. On stripping, the contrast between the men was extraordinary. Caunt, as compared with Bendigo, presented a gigantic aspect, while his huge limbs, divested of their customary covering of flesh, had amost singular appearance. His ribs were as palpable as those of a greyhound, and his long arms, thighs, and legs, covered only with well proportioned muscles and sinews, gave him the appearance of perfect condition. His face, too, had a most extraordinary expression, as he said himself, offering plenty of bony substance on which Bendigo might crack his knuckles. His hair was cut remarkably short, and his ancient scars standing forth undisguised, gave a character to his mug far removed from the poet's description of Adonis. Still his eyes were bright, and there was an expression of good humor in his lank and pale phiz, that showed perfect self-possession and internal confidence. His weight but little exceeded 14st, and his height, rendered more striking from the diminution in his bulk, was exactly six feet two inches and a half. Bendigo offered an aspect much more agreeable; his complexion was clear and fresh-colored, while his frame generally showed perfect health; his weight, we were informed, was 11 stones, 10 pounds. His grey eyes were bright and sparkling, and his manner eccentric, but confident. There is a natural restlessness about htm, which was by no means diminished on this occasion, and he had evidently made up his mind, by every dodge of which he was master, to steal upon his opponent, and to escape from the effects of his fearful physical superiority. He saw that he was numerously supported by his friends, and it was clear that ne was by no means dismayed at the fearfull odds in height and length to which he was about to be opposed. On his side were ranged Jem Ward and Jem Burn, while Tom Spring stood alone the counsel of Caunt, a duty which he performed with modest firmness, although his objections were overruled, and his head more than once in danger of collision with the Nottingham twigs, of which, unluckily, he got a taste. The odds, for there had been a good deal of betting, muy be quoted at 6 to 4 on Caunt.

The Fight.

Round 1. Caunt very eager, his adversary cautious ; Caunt tried his left, but did not reach his man. He then tried it on left and right, but Bendigo got away. Caunt now made himself up as if to go in furiously, but he hit wildly, and only succeeded in patting his man. Bendigo met him as he came, with a severe blow beneath the right eye, which cut the cheek to the bone. The blood came, but not in a stream, the stunning effect of the hit preventing it. Caunt appeared more surprised than pleased, but rushed in. Bendigo hung upon his man in ihe struggle at the ropes, and at length got down. [Shouts lor the hero of Nottingham, who won the event of first blood, and cries of" He'll win it in a canter" from his friends, but no betting.)

2. Caunt seemed cooler and less anxious. He tried for his man but could find no opening, Bendigo shifting about And appearing to have a predilection for the ropes, in working round he slipped, but was up in an instant, and caught his adversary on the nose, but not heavily. Caunt rushed in, and Bendigo got down, Caunt's blood was on Bendy's forehead, and many thought he had received a blow there. Caunt at the close of this round showed distress, and took a drop from the bottle.

3. Caunt would make the fighting, instead of waiting for his man. Bendigo got out of mischief with thu greatest ease, although his adversary, for so big a man, showed great activity. A struggle at the ropes, in which Caunt appeared to try the see sawing system. Bendigo down. Caunt smiling contemptuously. [ fhe cut under the eye began to tell on his visage, and Turner sponged his face.]

4. Caunt cutting out the work, and dashing in; Bendigo tapping him, and getting away. No mischief done, but very vexatious. More struggling. Bendy missed a well-intentioned blow, and receiving on the head, went down. [The Cauntites called this a knock down, which it assuredly was not. The giant evidently distressed; he had been fighting too fast.]

5. Caunt hit out well with his right, but Bendigo got awuy. Bendigo missed his return, and fell. Caunt was about to hit, but refrained, and laughing, as much as to say, "I'm not to be had at that suit," walked to his corner.

6. A rally. A trifling exchange of blows. Bendigo down. Some murmuring.

7. Caunt appeared fresher and more confident, and began as usual. Bendigo now seemed to mean going to work; the action of his muscles was beautiful; he made several offers, and, at last, getting an opening, caught his man on the head; again slightly in the body. A close, and struggle, Bendigo down, Caunt faling over him. ["This will be a long fight.]

8. Caunt drove Bendigo to the ropes; the latter hit his man heavily on the mouth, and went down.

9. Exchanges of no great consequence. Bendigo caught his man on the damaged eye; Caunt delivered slightly on Bendigo's body ; the latter got down, appeared distressed, end made an application-to the bottle.

10,11.12. Hugging matches; no fighting, but struggling on the ropes, which only tended to exhaust the men and disgust the spectators. [The seconds on each side began to advise their men.]

13. This looked like fighting. Caunt meant going to work, but his blow fell short; some, apparently, good exchanges. Bendigo made himself up for mischief, worked into the middle of the ring, and then towards Caunt's corner, when he started out, and caught his man on the eye, and felled him as if lie had been shot. One of the cleanest knock-down blows ever witnessed, Caunt fell like a slain bullock. [Terrific shouting from Bendigo's party, "We shall win without a scratch!" and "Where's your 6 to 4 now?"]

14. Caunt's countenance was a great deal the worse for his adversary's handiwork; his lip had been cut in a previous round, and a piece of it appeared to hang loose. He ran into his man. and commenced the hugging system; Bendigo got too far back on the ropes, Caunt got his arm round his reck, and appeared to be attempting to throttle and drag him forward by the head; Bendigo made almost superhuman exertions to free himself, and at length got down, Caunt falling backwards over him. [ A good deal of disapprobation was expressed. "Molyneux taught him to try and throttle, etc." After this round the black was continually abused by the Nottingham division.]

15. Bendigo, who, whilst in his corner distressed, left the knee bent on mischief. Caunt rushed in as usual, but Bendigo threw him cleverly. [Nobby Clark was supplying the place of Nick Ward about this time. We did not clearly understand why or when this exchange took place ; the proceeding was unusual, and. we apprehend, not/strictly correct)

16. More pulley-hauley, Caunt working his man on the ropes. Both down. [This perpetual resort to the ropes was very bad ; fortunately for Bendigo they were very slack, and the stakes had little or no hold, so that he got down pretty easily.]

17. Bendigo dodging about to all parts of the ring. Caunt trying to get at him in vain ; at length, as he was coming, Bendigo caught him on the nose, and fell.

18. Short and sweet; Caunt let fly, and Bendigo went down, [Caunt's lip was worse ; he washed out his mouth, and Turner endeavored to staunch the blood with a sponge.]

I9. Another close at the ropes. Bendigo down; Caunt threw up his hands.

20. Bendigo shifting ; a little struggle at the ropes ; Bendigo slipped down, jumped up again, and planted a hit. A struggle at the ropes in Caunt's corner, in favor of the latter, who lay heavily on his man. Bendigo at length got down. The riot at this time was terrible; Jem Ward was lashing away with a whip, Barney Aaron, Broome, and others, fighting with the mob, who kept pressing on the referee.

21. Bendigo planted a blow, and fell at the ropes, where he remained sitting on his head's antipodes, and looking up with a provoking smile. [The row, the yelling, swearing and screaming during this and the one or two following rounds, became indescribable.]

22. 23, 24. Bendigo put in his blows and got down. [Spring spoke to Mr. Osbaldeston, but though not fair stand-up fighting, Bendigo had done nothing foul.]

21. Caunt caught his man by the side of the head, Bendigo returned the compliment, and went down. [Caunt's blows, when he succeeded in planting them, were wholly ineffective, yet he seemed very fresh, whilst Bendigo appeared weary, which his perpetual struggle with his gigantic opponent may account for.]

26. Hannan had been whispering to his man, who came up smiling, Caunt grinned ghastily. Bendigo hit him slightly in the head ; a struggle at the referee's corner ; both down, nearly on the Squire, whose position was very unenviable.

27 Bendigo appeared tired, and waited calmly, but Caunt wouldn't go in. Bendigo put down his hands, and smiled; a little sparring. Caunt hit Bendigo slightly on the ear, Bendigo down ["He can scarcely hit him, and certainly can't hurt him," from an old ring-goer.]

28. A little feinting. Caunt coming in received a flush hit on the mouth, hut bored in nevertheless. A struggle similar to that in the 26th round, only this time they changed the locality, and tumbled over a sporting editor, Caunt taken to his corner, bleeding profusely.

29. A little sparring, and Caunt hit Bendigo over the right eye, a mere scratch, but it drew blood. At the ropes once more, where Caunt dropped on his knees to avoid punishment.

30. Exchanges ; Caunt hit Bendigo, who fell through the ropes. [Both men were tired -- Caunt, apparently, the least of the two, but his hitting had completely left him.]

31,32. Nothing done; Bendigo down in the last round apparently without a blow. [Spring appealed to the referee, without effect. What were Caunt's seconds about?]

33. Bendigo commenced fighting, worked into Caunt's corner; a struggle there at the ropes; the latter appearing to attempt breaking his adversary's arm. Bendigo down.

34. In closing, Caunt fairly carried his man to the ropes, again favoring the referee with a visit. Bendigo made an effort, and flung Caunt from him on to the ropes, fairly twisting him over. Both down.

35. Bendigo was fresher. Caunt's face was hideous -- and it became more so when he smiled -- he hit his man slightly, and Bendigo took advantage of it to get down. [Spring again appealed, without effect.]

36. Caunt led off; hit his man; they closed; Caunt had the best of it, and put out his tongue in derision.

37. Slight exchanges -- a struggle, Bendigo down, but returned the derisive compliment by protruding his tongue in return. This may be pardoned in fish-fags but not in men.

38. Again on a flying visit to the Squire, Caunt put in a hit; hut Bendigo shot out with his right, and caught Caunt on the eye once more, tapped his body and fell.

39. Bendigo hit Caunt on the upper lip and fell.

40. We saw no blow struck, but Bendigo got down.

41. The row outside the ring was, if possible, worse than that heretofore, and Ward, Burn, Broome, and others, with difficulty sheltered tho referee from those who were eagerly pressing to the ropes. These men were possibly only actuated by a desire to witness the fight, but their conduct had a result as baneful as if their intentions had been really evil. A little sparring, Caunt tapped his man, who fell.

42. Caunt shot out a great deal too high. Bendigo countered and fell.

43. Bendigo shifting. He put in a slight body blow and fell. Caunt fell over him, and apparently wanted to plant his knees as he came down. If such was his intention he missed his aim.

44 Another struggle. Bendigo caught at Caunt's drawers, but instantly let go. Both down, Caunt undermost.

45. More pulling. Bendigo down, Cnunt falling heavily on him.

46. Caunt hit Bendigo by the side of the head. Bendigo went to his man, hit him slightly, and got down.

47 and 48. More struggling at the ropes.

49. Caunt went to work, hit his man, and got him to the ropos. Caunt fairly bolted and ran to his corner; Bendigo followed him; an exchange of hits; both down. Caunt undermost, and much distressed. [One hour and a quarter had elapsed ]

50. Bendigo bucked to the ropes, but Caunt wouldn't go to him. Another close, Caunt lying heavily on Bendigo. Both down. [Another row. Confusion worse confounded, and we are much indebted to William Jones, the pugilist, who endangered himself to clear our corner.]

51. 52. More hugging.

53. Caunt shot out his right hand, apparently with effect, Bendigo returned the compliment, and Caunt countered. Bendigo slipped down.

54, 55. A little tapping, hugging, and falling.

56. Both the men wonderfully fresh. Sparring; Bendigo getting sea room all over the ring. Bendigo planted a facer, Caunt turned round, and bolted to his corner; Bendigo ran after him, hitting right and left. Caunt down on the ropes. [Caunt was weak and piped it. Cries of "He'll soon cut it."] Bendigo did not look as if he had been engaged in anything but play; he perspired profusely, especially in the face, from having the sun perpetually in his eyes, but otherwise there appeared to he nothing the matter with him.

57. Bendigo put in a blow on the lip, another on the body, but Caunt fell heavily upon his man.

58, 59, 60. Again at the ropes. In the 59th Caunt fell on his knees, in the next round Bendigo did the same. ["They're gammoning for a foul!" from the pugilistic authority above referred to.]

Ninety minutes had elapsed. To enumerate the rounds that followed up to the 86th, were mere waste of time. Bendigo got down when he could, but more frequently wrestled with his man. In this we think he was very injudicious, and we believe his seconds thought so too.

In the 86th round, after feinting and cautious dodging about, Bendigo succeeded in planting a tremendous blow just above the mark. Caunt staggered and went down, when lifted up by his seconds "a tale was told." -- He appeared dreadfully sick, and his head dropped while being carried to his corner. In our opinion he never recovered from the effects of that blow.

In the 90th round there was a call of "foul," by Bendigo's party. "Fair," said the referee.

91. Bendigo was now determined to go in and finish, but got no opening, He hit his man slightly, and in a close they fell together.

92. After a little sparring, Bendigo dashed in, and planted a body blow just under the last rib. Caunt down.

An appeal was now made, it being declared that Bendigo had hit below the waistband, Caunt, it is said, averring that his hand fell so low as to injure him in the tenderest part; the referee saw nothing foul, and the fight proceeded.

93, and last. Caunt came up weak, piping, and in pain, Bendigo delivered slightly, and slipped down, but was up again, and ran at Caunt, who dropped untouched, from weakness, not intention, we verily believe.

The riot now was indescribable; the umpires disagreed, and an appeal was made to Mr Osbaldiston, who distinctly said; "Caunt has lost, he went down without a blow." The shouting of Bendigo's friends awoke the echoes, whilst the murmuring of Caunt's party were not loud but deep. Caunt, who seemed much aggrieved, strode about the ring like a chafed lion. The fight lasted, we think, two hours and twelve minutes; but as time was taken by different watches, it might be a minute or two more or less.

The ropes, etc., were down in a moment, and the men taken to their respective carriages. Turner doing all in his power to console Caunt; Bendigo, of course, had a host of congratulators; he remained very collected, and though a good deal exhausted, appeared able to continue the contest much longer. It was now a quarter past six, and a second fight, especially between such lasting bits of stuff as Maley and Merriman, was out of the question.

The newspapers and principal supporters of pugilists, with a majority of the most respectable of them, are most indignant at the whole affair. They say it was anything but a fair fight, and that it was one of the most disgraceful occurrences that have taken place in that country for many years. The Sunday Times, one of the leading sporting journals of Europe, thus speaks of the affair :-- "There were many foreigners on the ground. What must be their impression of the British character -- of the men who are styled the brave, the bold, the emancipators of the slave, the terror of most nations, and the envy of the world? The scene all round and in the ring disgraced humanity. We banter the Americans for their outrages; but they are harmless and sportive compared to the riot of Tuesday. We quit the subject on which we have unwillingly said so much. A gentleman cannot witness a prize fight without endangering his person and damaging his reputation ; and the sooner such displays of lawless ruffianism are utterly abolished, the better for the character of Englishmen and for the morals of the nation."

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