Boxing. George 1V. 1825. Hand Coloured Aquatint. after T.Blake.

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W. Sams, Book & Printseller, to the Royal family opposite St James’s Palace, 1825.

A large and important depiction of an exhibition sparring match held in Fives Court, in London’s Little St. Martin’s Street, a tennis and fives court hired for such events, the participants, unlike a regular, bare-knuckle bout, being fitted with gloves (“mittens” or “mufflers”). The contestants shown were Ned Turner, “The Out-and-Outer”, who had killed a man in the ring, serving time for manslaughter, and Jack Randall, “The Prime Irish Lad”, unbeaten throughout 12 years of ring activity. The two had fought an epic fight in 1818, which Randall won to become the Lightweight champion. A large number of famous pugilists are pictured in the audience, not always accurately (Jem Belcher, the famed champion and the first real sporting celebrity in the modern sense, is shown, although he was dead), and it is a fair portrait of “The Fancy” as the mix of often raffish sporting professionals, and upscale spectators including nobility, came to be known. THE MOST FAMOUS BOXING PRINT EVER PRODUCED, AND AN IMPERISHABLE EVOCATION OF REGENCY SPORT.

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