Tom Molineaux’s story is legendary, full of triumphs and defeats. Born a slave in the United States during the late 1700s, Molineaux gained his freedom after years of boxing in tournaments for his owner. A brash, talented fighter, Molineaux traveled to England to challenge the greatest boxer of the day, Tom Cribb.
After winning several fights against boxers in England, Molineaux represented a challenge to British society. Could a black man—and an American at that—defeat the most powerful English athlete of the age? The image of black defeating white, whether in the ring or on the plantation, was a terrifying one for white men across the Atlantic world.
In the end, after 40 rounds, Molineaux yielded to Cribb, and Molineaux eventually spiraled into a depression that led to his early death. The figurine of Molineaux, pictured here on the right, shows him in the midst of those many rounds that took place on a rainy December day in 1810. In a solid stance with his bare knuckles ready to strike, Molineaux is confident and capable.