July 8, 1820

08/07/2019 all-day

A crowd of up to 20,000 boxing fans gathered near North Walsham. They were there to see Norfolk fighter Ned Painter box an opponent named Oliver on a specially built platform. Bare knuckle boxing was in its golden age, and was adored by fans of both high and low status.

According to a report in the Norfolk Annals: “A staging about 100 yards in length was erected for the accommodation of spectators, for whom, also sixty waggons were formed in a circle round the outer ring; £50 was collected at the gate, and the sums charged for admission to the seats on the staging produced £80. The greatest order prevailed among the 20,000 persons.”

Punters had come from London, and lost heavily as Painter won in 12 rounds.

“His colours (yellow) were hoisted upon a waggon, and he was everywhere greeted with loud cheering.”

The Norwich man subsequently announced his retirement during a special dinner held at North Walsham. The writer George Borrow later immortalised this fight in his book Lavengro.

A Moment In Time

You can read all about bare knuckle boxing in East Anglia during the early 19th century in my book A Moment in Time.