Bamfords (Derby) Four Day Fine Art and Antique Sale - Day 2 - Wednesday 18th January 2017
A 19th century English pottery commemorative jug, with Molineaux and Cribb the Boxers, printed in monochrome,
on a canary yellow ground, silver lustre borders, 14.5cm high, c1815 Molineaux was born into slavery in Virginia, Molineaux was trained by his father, also a fighter, as was Molineaux's twin brother. He boxed with other slaves to entertain plantation owners. Molineaux earned his owner a large sum of money in winnings on bets, was granted his freedom, and moved to England where he expected to be able to earn money as a professional boxer. Molineaux's first fight in England was on 24 July 1810, beating Jack Burrows in 65 minutes. On 3 December 1810, having been trained by Bill Richmond, another ex-slave turned boxer, Molineaux fought Tom Cribb at Shenington Hollow in Oxfordshire for the English title. According to the writer Pierce Egan, who was present, Molineaux stood five foot eight and a quarter inches tall, and for this fight weighed ''fourteen stone two'' (198 pounds (90 kg). Egan wrote that few people, including Cribb, expected the fight to last very long; there was betting that Cribb would win in the first ten rounds. However, Molineaux proved a powerful and intelligent fighter and the two battered each other heavily. There was a disturbance in the nineteenth round as Molineaux and Cribb were locked in a wrestler's hold (legal under the rules of the time) so that neither could hit the other nor escape. The referee stood by, uncertain as to whether he should break the two apart, and the dissatisfied crowd pushed into the ring. In the confusion Molineaux hurt his left hand; Egan could not tell if it had been broken. There was also dispute over whether Cribb had managed to return to the line before the allowed thirty seconds had passed. If he had not, Molineaux would have won, but in the confusion the referee could not tell and the fight went on. After the 34th round Molineaux said he could not continue but his second persuaded him to return to the ring, where he was defeated in the 35th round. The return fight on 28 September 1811 at Thistleton Gap in Rutland was watched by 15,000 people. Cribb won this contest after breaking Molineaux's jaw. Molineaux's boxing career ended in 1815. After a stint in a debtor's prison he became increasingly dependent on alcohol, and died penniless in the regimental bandroom in Galway in Ireland three years later from liver failure. He was 34 years old.