Bare Knuckle Boxer

2003 May - Channel 4

On the 8th October 1805, at Hailsham in Sussex, only a fortnight before the battle of Trafalgar, another battle gripped the imagination of England. 10,000 People from all walks of life, from the Duke of Clarence to John Warr, the local innkeeper, came to see the English champion, Tom Cribb, take on the “Black Terror”, Bill Richmond.

This is the colourful and remarkable story of 3 men: two black pugilists, Bill Richmond and Tom Molineaux, whose interwoven rags-to-riches stories ended with defeats and disillusionment at the hands of the third, Tom Cribb, to whom it fell to uphold the honour for England.

It is a story that opens up a Hogarthian demi-world of gambling, womanising, and drinking. A world where young men would seek their fortune by “throwing their hat into the ring” and the rich would enjoy gambling their money away in a sport that, for a few decades, defined it’s time.

Channel 4 ▪ TX 01/05/2003 ▪ 1 x 60 mins
Directed by Justin Hardy
Executive Producer: Samir Shah