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Monday, 17 January 2011

Tom Sayers (1826-1865)

We had our first London day on the 2nd Jan., which meant that the Aunt Rose memorial walk took place a day late but after a christmas marred by illness we wanted a day out before we returned to work.

We started at St Pancreas and walked up via Camden Town to Primrose Hill and St Johns Wood along the Regents Canal to Maida Vale.

There were a couple of points of interest behind St Pancreas most notably St. Pancreas Old Church where Sir John Soanes tomb which influenced the design of the Telephone Box and Johann Christian bach. There were also a couple of really interesting stuptures/installations which I thought for a moment were piles of discarded snow from our frigid pre-christmas winter.

We wandered north en direction de Camden Town and the delightful tourist trap that is Camden Market. On the hoof I espied the first blue plaque of the year above one of the gallery of so hip it hurts boutiques.

So Tom Sayers whose tomb was pointed out to me in Highgate West a while back as it features a statue of his canine pal Lion who was chief mourner at his funeral, a funeral that featured 100,000 people and which was modelled on the funeral of the Duke of Wellington.

He was born in brighton the youngest of 5 children and at the age of 6 was employed doing odd jobs for holidaymakers ands fishermen (cant help but think of those mongrel kids scraping a little living around the tourist resorts) before moving to London and working as a brickie. He began fighting informally before embarking on a professional pugilistic career in 1849. Not that there was a whole lot of professionalism in the fight game at this point. He fought Nat Langham widely thought of as Englands Middleweight champion and suffered the only defeat of his career.
He had acquitted himself well though and other middleweights feared facing him so in 1856 at 5ft 8 1/2 he decided that hed fight Harry Paulson a heavyweight. In 1857 he won the National Heavyweight Champion and then defeated several opponents before taking on John Camel Sheenan,
Sayers was eight years older than Sheenan, was 5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter. In addition he fought most of the 2 hour fight one handed after being injured early on in the fight. The fight was ended after the ropes were cut and the ring invaded. It was his last fight. Public subscription raixsed £3000 after a series of bad business decisions. sadly he lived his last years blighted by TB, Diabetes and alcohol abuse.

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