Plaque commemorating Bill Richmond the freed slave who became a boxer.


Black Cultural Archives

Black Cultural Archives

A plaque commemorating Bill Richmond the freed slave who became a boxer.

Bill Richmond was an enslaved teenager from America’s Staten Island.

During the American war of Independence he’d become a servant to Hugh Percy the Duke of Northumberland and he came back to Britain with Percy.

He was given an education, apprenticed as a cabinet maker in York and married a local girl. But in his early 40's he took the extraordinary decision to give up his trade to become a bare knuckle boxer in London

Bill Richmond was just one of the crowd at a bare knuckle match in Wimbledon when he was challenged to a fight.

It was the spark that set him on course to become a boxing champion and one of Georgian Britain’s most famous celebrities. Bill Richmond won 17 of his 19 fights, and became the first black British sports star.

He was a true celebrity who rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, dined with aristocracy and was a guest at the coronation of George IV.

After retirement he became a publican, and also ran a sports academy – passing his skills to the next generation.

This plaque was unveiled in his honour at the Tom Cribb pub in London where he spent the last night of his life.

It was created by BBC History and is one of twenty placed around the world for the series Black and British: A Forgotten History.

Show lessRead more