View Full Version : NAT LANGHAM Bare Knuckle GREAT


McGoorty
10-07-2011, 07:47 AM
Nat LANGHAMA LIFE OF A 19th CENTURY Champion PUGILIST.................NAT Langham entered sporting history as an exponent of the sport of pugilism, or bare knuckle boxing, by becoming the only man to beat the great pugilist Tom Sayers.
Nat Langham was baptised on 20th February 1820. He was the son of poor framework knitters, who lived in Cross Keys Yard, Hinkley.. The lot of the stocking makers was not an enviable one, the phrase "poor as a stockinger" was cruelly accurate. In such places as Cross Keys Yard the miserable poor attempted to eke out a living in congested, slum-like conditions.
Nat was not proud of these roots and in later years would claim he was the son of a farm labourer. What can be certain is that from his earliest days Langham was malnourished. He always had a weak constitution and lungs, which makes his choice of profession somewhat surprising. Legend takes hold here and casts Langham as one of the young scavengers for food in the town, not unlike one of ***in's boys in the story "Oliver Twist".
It is said that in the basement area of a merchant's house in the town he would entertain the other servants of the house by eating off the same plate as the dog. He was said to have also eaten raw onions by the dozen to entertain public house customers followed by a mug of stale ale he was given to wash them down.
What does emerge is that his parents abandoned him to his own devices, and when he was about eight years old a street vendor caught him stealing a hot potato from his cart so he thrust it into the child's mouth. Langham's tongue was so burnt and swollen that he suffered permanent damage and spoke with a pronounced speech impediment for the rest of his life.
It is not clear when Nat entered his first "prize" fight for money. Some have felt that it was against a William Ellis of Sapcote village but there is some evidence to suggest that he fought against Hinckley's champion Dick Brown, for a purse of 5, near the Harrow Inn on the Watling Street, close to where an industrial estate is now situated.
Langham was encouraged to go to Leicester, both in search of employment as a deliverer of goods by horse and cart, but also to attend the sparring rooms of the Leicester pugilist Dick Cain, at the latter's premises, the Castle Tavern, at 43 Gallowtree Gate in the city.
Langham did not attract attention until, in a street brawl, he gave a sound hiding to a local well-known rough.
This turn-up alerted Cain to the fact that young Langham possessed the fighting instinct and talent to enable him to enter the prize-ring. Cain became Langham's mentor and took pride in the development of his young protege.
He returned to Hinckley, where on 12th February 1843, he definitely fought William Ellis of Sapcote, for 5 a side. Ellis was much the heavier man and the older. The result of the bout has been disputed but it appears that Langham was the victor, cutting his opponent's "big round face to ribbons".
With this victory under his belt, he decided to try his luck in London, where he came under the influence of the pugilist Ben Caunt, a fellow East Midlander.
Caunt must have been impressed with the youngster for a purse was drawn for his first prize-fight in the London ring against Tom Lowe for 7th May 1844. After a fight lasting 43 rounds in 50 minutes, Lowe was compelled to admit that he had received enough and that Langham was the victor.

McGoorty
10-07-2011, 07:50 AM
It is worth noting that the developing style of Langham was not without a little controversy. Langham stood just under six feet and weighed 11 stones. This was considered the unlucky weight - too light for the heavyweights and too heavy for the lighter fighters. Because of his weak constitution he developed a technique to counter his physical disadvantages.
He developed a left-handed punch and made almost exclusive use of this. He stood with his legs wide apart with one foot quite a way in front of the other; his left arm was well out, his right close to his chest.
The object of the fight was to render his opponent blind by placing blows on his forehead and eye area. Langham's knock-out blow would be a downward left-hook, the so-called "pick-axe" blow.
What he lacked in brute strength Langham made up for in technique and speed. Langham also made use of his tactic of "going down" on one knee and one hand, which gave a fighter a chance to grab a second wind. Langham used this sometimes in a suspicious manner although it was within the pale of the law, his friends would contend.
Fights were governed by few rules. They were considered a breach of the peace by policing authorities and consequently were held outside city limits so as to evade detection. The ring was usually 24 feet square with eight posts and two rope rails.
Another ring surrounded this, being reserved for umpires, seconds and backers of the two fighters and for the more privileged of spectators. The Marquis of Queensbury rules were not introduced until 1867.
Following Nat's success against Lowe, Ben Caunt put his pupil confidently on offer for 25 a side, preparing to give weight to any challengers. Challenge would be accepted at "The White Lion" in Hinckley and Caunt's hostelry "The Coach and Horses" in London. However, it was not until 12th June 1845 that Nat had his next fight against Dr Campbell, "The Brighton Bomber", for 5 a side. The fight lasted 27 rounds in 37 minutes with victory for Langham. Langham's reputation was growing and he was matched against George Gutteridge of Bourne in Lincolnshire for 25 a side. The fight took place on 23rd September 1846 at Bourne and was a bruising encounter that lasted 93 minutes with 85 rounds.
Nat was the victor and the next challenge came from an Australian William Sparkes and the fight was dubbed as for the honour of the old country.
It took place on Woking Common on 4th May 1847. The purse was 50 a side, a considerable sum. Again Langham was victorious and his backer Caunt said he would now back Langham against any man in the world!
Nat's next appearance in the ring was again a Londoner, Harry Orme from Bow, for 50 a side. It took place on 6th May 1851 and lasted 177 rounds in two hours 50 minutes. Langham was compelled from sheer exhaustion to acknowledge himself outmatched although he acquitted himself bravely. After his defeat Langham temporarily decided to leave the ring and follow the footsteps of his mentor Ben Caunt and become a promoter and coach to young talents.
But the biggest challenge of his career came when the great unbeaten Tom Sayers challenged him. It was scheduled to take place on 18th October 1853 at Lakenheath in Suffolk and was awaited with great anticipation. Replicas of the fighters' colours were retailed in thousands. There are lengthy accounts of what turned out to be a bloody contest.
One eyewitness recalled: "Time after time I saw Nat with his eyes closed and his mouth open, his head leaning helplessly against Jemmy Welsh's shoulder." He continued: "I was sickened as I watched the fight. I was nauseated by the bruised, battered, swollen, and bleeding face of Tom's come popping up time after time from his corner."
The fight lasted for two hours two minutes, Nat eventually defeating Tom and so entering the annals of sporting history as the only man to beat Tom Sayers.

McGoorty
10-07-2011, 07:51 AM
Despite the result the men remained friends and even acted as seconds to each other in subsequent fights. After the fight, Nat announced his perpetual retirement from the ring.
This was interrupted in 1857 for a fight with no less than Nat's mentor Ben Caunt, to settle a domestic squabble between their respective wives.
The contest ended in a draw and henceforth family affairs seem to have been on a more even keel! Nat did return to Hinckley on a number of occasions and although his parents lived in Castle Yard he refused to acknowledge them. He was hailed as a local hero and celebrity.
It is said that on one visit to the town he was presented with a replica of the Tin Hat, the symbol of the town and also a symbol used by the proprietors of the local boxing booths. There was an inscription on the hat: "The Tin Hat from Hinckley. Birthplace of Nat Langham. Champion of England. Born 18th February, 1820. THE ONLY MAN to BEAT toM SAYERS".
One of his proteges, Jem Mace, tutored by Nat, went to Australia and helped to establish the sport there. Consequently, Nat's influence on the sport could be said to be world-wide.
So energetic was he that he had a virtual monopoly on the business of pugilism in the capital - Nat's word was law.
However, it was Nat's health that gave cause for concern. Despite consulting the principal physician of the Brompton Hospital for consumption, Nat died of that disease at the early age of 52 on 1st September 1871.
He was buried in the Brompton Cemetery in West London where his grave can be seen to this day. It appears to have once had an epitaph on it but weathering has corroded this. It once had railings around it but these have long since been vandalised.
For a man who had been so successful one might have thought he had left a large fortune. In fact, records show that he left a personal estate worth less than 100.

McGoorty
10-07-2011, 08:00 AM
Langham was born into poverty and always seemed to be ill-fed; His lungs were weak and he suffered bad health all through his life; He also spoke with a speech impediment but he surely could fight

1842
Bill Crozier KO
Ned Ellis KO
-Perhaps, this is the 2/02/43 bout

1843
Feb 2 William Ellis Hinckley, Eng KO 8
-Some sources report 2/09/43; Some sources report 2/12/43

1844
May 7 Teddy Lowe Long Reach, Eng (50:00) KO 43
-Some sources report "Tom Lowe"

1845
Jun 12 Doc Campbell near London, Eng (35:00) KO 27

1846
Sep 23 George Gutteridge Bourne, Eng (93:00) KO 85
-Some sources report Middleweight Championship of England;
Some sources report "Guttridge" in "Lincolnshire"

1847
May 4 William Sparkes Woking Common, Eng (63:00) KO 67

1851
May 6 Harry Orme (2:59:00) LK 117
-Middleweight Championship of England

1853
Oct 18 Tom Sayers Lakenheath, Eng (2:02:00) KO 61
-Middleweight Championship of England

1857
Sep 22 Ben Caunt River Medway, Eng (1:29:00) D 60
-Some sources report 9/09/57; Some sources report 9/21/57;
Some sources report "Home Circuit"
Record courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization

McGoorty
10-07-2011, 12:26 PM
How many of you had heard of Langham ??......... What do you blokes think of this ring great ?????..... an ATG. without doubt.