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Pioneering black boxer Bill Richmond remembered

PIONEER: Bill Richmond

A PERMANENT memorial to pioneering black boxer Bill Richmond (1763-1829) will be unveiled by Earl George Percy at the Tom Cribb pub, in Panton Street, London on August 26.

A portrait of Richmond and a plaque summarising his amazing life and career will adorn the wall of the historic pub owned by Shepherd Neame brewery in recognition of Richmond’s position in history as the first black sportsman to achieve international fame and significance.

The unveiling will take place at a launch event for Luke G. Williams’ new book Richmond Unchained: The Biography of the World’s First Black Sporting Superstar, which is published on August 15 by Amberley Books.

Born into slavery in America, Richmond travelled to England in the 1770s thanks to the kindly intervention of Earl Hugh Percy, a British soldier renowned for his humanitarianism, who ensured that Richmond received an education and was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker. It is therefore fitting that Hugh Percy’s direct descendant, Earl George Percy, has agreed to unveil this memorial to one of sporting history’s leading pioneers.

Although he only became a professional boxer in his forties, Richmond assembled an impressive record of 17 wins from 19 contests, while he was also a highly sought after trainer and gymnastic instructor. Richmond was one of the most recognisable celebrities in Georgian Britain, mixing with the likes of William Hazlitt and Lord Byron.

A measure of the high regard in which he was held was the fact that he was present at the coronation celebrations of King George IV in 1821.

Author Williams said: “The Tom Cribb pub is a perfect location for a permanent memorial to Bill Richmond. Cribb was a champion boxer and contemporary of Richmond who was once landlord of these premises.

"The two men were initially rivals but eventually became firm friends and spent many evenings conversing and socialising at the pub. In fact, Richmond spent the last evening of his life with Cribb in the pub."

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