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