What role did free black William Richmond play in black boxing history?

Bill (William) Richmond (1763–1829), born free on Staten Island, New York, was the first black to become a prominent boxer in England, in 1805. A semi-professional boxer, by 1800 he had built an impressive list of wins and scored enough wins to earn a title berth against Tom Cribb, who held the title of champion. The thousands of spectators at the match included dukes and other nobility who appeared on horseback, and the bout was well covered by the London Times. Richmond lost the unequal match and Cribb would face Tom Molineaux in a match in 1810. Richmond remained active until 1810 and fought again in 1814 and 1818. He was also the first black to seek his living as a boxer, and the first American boxer to achieve a substantial measure of success. As a fifteen-year-old soldier for the British Army during the American Revolution, Richmond was the hangman at Nathan Hale’s execution. He accompanied the British troops when they withdrew to England after the American Revolution.

Boxer Tom Molineaux literally fought his way out of slavery in America to become a champion pugilist in England.


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