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Adrian, Richard William [known as Kid Tanner] (1912–1963), boxer, was born in Fellowship, British Guiana (later Guyana), on 16 March 1912, the son of James Adrian, variously described as a joiner and a prison warder. He later told boxing reporters that aged fourteen, he had become an apprentice auctioneer but by sixteen had embarked on a successful amateur boxing career. Records indicate his first professional contest was in ...

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Okon Asuguo Bassey (1932–1998) by Bernard Zimmerman, 1958 [left, with Jules Touan] ? News International Newspapers Ltd

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Bassey, Okon Asuguo [known as Hogan Bassey, Hogan Kid Bassey] (1932–1998), boxer and sports administrator, was born in Creek Town, Calabar, Nigeria, on 3 June 1932, the eldest of five sons of Chief Asuquo Bassey. He was educated at Creek Town School, Calabar...

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James Belcher (1781–1811) by unknown artist, c. 1800 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomas Seccombe

revised by Dennis Brailsford

Belcher, James [Jim, Jem] (1781–1811), prize-fighter, was born at his parents' house near St James's churchyard, Bristol, on 15 April 1781. His mother was a daughter of John Slack (c. 1721–1768), the noted pugilist, who defeated John Broughton in April 1750. Jim (or Jem) Belcher...

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See Belcher, James [Jim, Jem]

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Broughton, John (c. 1703–1789), pugilist, was born of unknown parents, probably in London, although claims have been made for Baunton in Gloucestershire. He was apprenticed rather late in life (31 May 1723) to John Martin, a Thames waterman, and assigned the same day to the latter's brother ...

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John Broughton (c. 1703–1789) by unknown engraver ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bryan, Benjamin [nicknamed Big Ben] (1753–1794), prize-fighter, sometimes named Benjamin Brian or Brain, was born in Bristol; nothing is known about his parents or upbringing. It is unclear whether he had any formal education; however, letters (apparently from Bryan) which appeared in the press towards the end of his life suggest that he was literate. During his early years ...

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Benjamin Caunt (1814–1861) by unknown engraver ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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G. C. Boase

revised by Julian Lock

Caunt, Benjamin (1814–1861), pugilist, was born in the village of Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire, on 22 March 1814 (some sources give 1815), the son of Robert Caunt, a labourer, and his wife, Martha. He was baptized on 15 May 1814. His father, a tenant of ...

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Cockell, Donald John (1928–1983), boxer, was born on 22 September 1928 at 46 Ouseley Road, Balham, London, the son of Kate Cockell, a domestic servant, of 44 Havelock Terrace, Battersea. He never knew his father. Cockell was apprenticed to a blacksmith and developed a strong physique well suited to boxing. He showed promise as a footballer, but earned money from fighting in fairground booths on Saturday nights, and after rising through the amateur ranks he turned professional in 1946....

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Cooper, Sir Henry (1934–2011), boxer, was born on 3 May 1934 at the Lying-In Hospital, York Road, Lambeth, London, the elder identical twin and second of three sons of Henry William Cooper, tram conductor, and his wife, Lily, née Nutkins. At the time of his birth registration the family lived at ...

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Sir Henry Cooper (1934–2011) by Jim Gray, 1966 ? Jim Gray / Keystone / Getty Images

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Tom Cribb (1781–1848) by Douglas Guest, 1810–11 unknown collection; photograph Sotheby's Picture Library, London / National Portrait Gallery, London

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G. C. Boase

revised by Julian Lock

Cribb, Tom (1781–1848), pugilist, was born at Hanham in the parish of Bitton, Gloucestershire, on 8 July 1781, the son of Thomas and Hannah Cribb (he had three brothers and three sisters). He moved to London at the age of thirteen and worked as a bellhanger, then became a porter at the public wharves, and was afterwards a sailor. From the fact of his having worked as a coal porter he became known as the ...

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Driscoll, James [Jim] (1880–1925), boxer, was born on 5 December 1880 at 12 Ellen Street in Newtown, Cardiff's main Irish quarter, the second son of the four surviving children of Cornelius Driscoll (1856–1881), a railwayman on the docks who died in an accident at work soon after ...

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William Thomas Dupree (1909–1992) by David Redfern, 1990 ? David Redfern / Getty Images

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Dupree, William Thomas [known as Champion Jack Dupree] (1909–1992), boxer and blues pianist, claimed in official documentation to have been born on 4 July 1909 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, the son of George Dupree and his wife Georgiana, née Washington, whose plantation names revealed their slave ancestry. His father was reputedly of part Congolese and his mother of part Cherokee Indian descent. Other sources have cited both earlier and later variations of his date of birth. The uncertainty derives in part from a lack of definitive evidence and possibly also ...

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Thomas George Farr (1913–1986) by Sayers, 1937 [centre, with members of his family] ? Science & Society Picture Library; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London