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Bells Life

Bells Life




_ The sun has set for ever on another star in the Pugilistic Hemisphere, and upon one, too, whose like we "ne'er shall see again." Jack Randall, the Nonpareil of the Ring, is no more! - he breathed his last at his own house, the Hole-in-the-Wall, Chancery-lane, on Wednesday evening last, soon after six o'clock. The mark of the "Grim King of Terrors" had been set upon him for some months before, but he did not become seriously indisposed till about ten weeks back, when he took to his bed, and from thenceforth the flickering flame of life gradually diminished in lustre, til the oil was exhausted, and poor Jack closed his eyes in eternal darkness! He was sensible to the last, with the exception of some trifling aberrations of intellect during the last few days; and, on Tuesday, he was visited by a Clergyman, with whom he partook of the sacrament. He has left a widow and two children to lament his loss, and to seek the protection of those with whom he was so deserved a favorite. His widow intends to continue the business, and we have no doubt will meet the generous sympathy of every friend and member of the ring.
_ Jack, so deservedly called the Nonpareil (for he never met his equal), was what is called an Anglo-Irishman, that is to say, he was descended from Irish parents, and born in England. In the Hiberuian colony of St. Giles's he first drew his breath, on the 25th of November, 1794 - so that, at his death, he was three and thirty years of age. Brought up in the school of adversity, and at an early age left to fight his own battles while his parents sought the means of putting a potatoe in his belly, he acquired an independence of character which stuck to him through life; and having naturally a strong and hardy frame, he soon knew how to take his own part. Fear was a word which did not belong to his vocabulary; and when attacked, whether by great or small, he never flinched from the consequences. At the age of thirteen, he commenced his milling career in public. The Archery-ground in the Long Fields near Russell-square, and now covered with houses, was the early scene of his prowess, and here he polished off "Snuff," well known in the boxing circles, no less than three times. He also beat a man of the name of Leonard, on the same ground; and these victories were followed by successive conquests of Henshaw and Murphy. His first battle of note was with Jack the Butcher, in Regent's Park, Mary-la-bonne, for five guineas, which he won cleverly in twenty minutes; after which, on August the 26th, 1815, he aspired to higher honors, and made his debut in the same ring in which Scroggins and Eales had contended, at Coombe Wood. His antagonist was Walton, the Twickenham Youth. They fought for five guineas, and in a short space of ten minutes, Walton left the ring without a chance. On the 24th of April, 1816, he fought George Dodd, in the same ring in which Carter and Robinson contended, and was again successful; and on the 28th of May in the same year, he took the pride out of Ugly Borrock, a Jew. The extraordinary capabilities which he exhibited on these occasions - his admirable science, heavy hitting, and sound judgment - were the themes of general encomium, and it was determined to match him against West Country Dick, for twenty-five guineas a-side. No sooner proposed than accomplished; and on the 3rd of April, 1817, they entered the roped arena on Twickenham Common, but after fighting thirty-three minutes and a half, and twenty-nine rounds, Randall was proclaimed the conqueror. Dick had not a chance. Harry Holt was his next antagonist, for a similar stake of twenty-five guineas a-side. They fought at Coombe Warren, but Harry shared the fate of his predecessors, and succumbed to superior talent. This affair came off on the 20th of May, 1817, and occupied twenty-five minutes, during which time eight rounds were fought. General Barton, who backed Randall, and who was ever after his staunch supporter, with Colonel Berkeley, Captain Barclay, and other distinguished amateurs, were present on this occasion; and perhaps, the science of pugilism was never displayed to greater advantage. In his former fights, Jack was most remarkable for his in-fighting qualities, but with Holt, who was a master of the art, he had to play a different game; he had in fact, to out-fight him, and this he did in a style which electrified the Ring. He planted not less than forty blows on Holt's face, and altogether, spoiled the symmetry of his nose; in fact, the terrible character of his punishment admitted of no parallel, and all Holt's knowledge went for nothing. Four months afterwards, on the 30th of September, 1817, he fought Belasco, at Shepherton Range, and by the astonishing display of his milling qualities, on that day he obtained the cognomen of The Nonpareil. His hitting and getting away, his style of stopping and returning, with the excellent judgment he manifested, added to his activity and quickness on his legs, all tended to stamp him as one of the most finished boxers of his weight. The men fought for fifty guineas a-side, and the fight lasted fifty-four minutes and a half, during which seven rounds only were fought. Jack now mounted in the scale of consequence, and was matched against Parish the Waterman, for one hundred guineas a-side. The fight came off on Hayes Common, Kent, on the 27th of November, 1817, and again did Jack wear laurels of victory, winning in eleven rounds, and fifty-three minutes, after a most determined scientific fight. On the 6th of April, 1818, while at Tom Reynold's Free and Easy, in Drury-lane, a big Hiberoian, named Dan M'Carthy, thought proper to reverse the words of the favorite song, "Politeness an Irishman's trade is," in Jack's presence, and to be very ungenteel. Jack called him to "order," but only produced disorder, and a room fight ensued, in which, in fifteen minutes, the nob of Mr. M'Carthy was completely chanceried, and he admitted that he had never received a more imposing lesson on good manners. Jack next entered the ring with Woolwich Burke, for one hundred guineas a-side, on the 16th of June, 1818, on Wimbledon Common; and after twenty-three rounds, fought in forty-five minutes, Jack preserved his fame by adding an additional conquest to his list, although it was felt, that on this particular occcasion he was not exactly "himself." The most important epoch of his life now approached: it was that in which he was matched against the supposed invincible Ned Turner. Articles were signed for one hundred pounds a-side, on the 18th of October, 1818, and the 1st of December was fixed for the combat; but in consequence of the death of Queen Charlotte, the meeting was postponed to Saturday, the 5th of December, on which day the men met at Crawley Hurst. Perhaps, in the annals of boxing, there never was an event which excited more speculation; all if we were to say that a million of money depended on the issue, we, perhaps, should not overshoot the mark. All classes seemed to be interested, and the betting on the Stock Exchange equalled any thing of the sort ever witnessed. At first, Randall was the favorite at 2 to 1 and 7 to 4. These odds, from a report he had got a cold in his neck, dropped to even betting, but again rose on the day of fighting to 6 to 4. Never did we witness such a "turn out" from London as that on the morning of fighting: the road down to the scene of action was literally covered with vehicles of every possible discription, among which were some score of carriages and four filled with the higher grade of amateurs, including many nobelmen of distinction, while the commoners were beyond all calculation. A more extraordinary exhibition of talent and generalship was never witnessed than during the fight. So well did each man guard his points, and so admirably did he out-manoeuvre his opponent, that no less than two hours, nineteen minutes and thirty seconds, were occupied in the struggle, which ultimately terminated in favor of Randall, after fighting thirty-four rounds. A higher treat was never afforded to the Fancy, and even those who lost their money could not withhold the meed of praise from the loser. Randall had now reached the acme of his glory, and on defeating Turner, was considered to have gained the "top of the tree" - an elevation the more extraordinary, as he never received a lesson on the art of self-defence; and was from first to last, the architect of his own glory. he had a natural prepensity to the sport, and his genius seemed particularly calculated for its indulgence. He had not yet, however, closed his labors, for in the same month of December, he was matched against Jack Martin (the Master of the Rolls), 150L to 100L., to fight on the 30th of April, but this day was afterwards altered to the 4th of May, in order (as in Neal and Bob's case) it might not interfere with the Newmarket Races. Pending this mill, he had a turn-up with Ben Burns, and took the conceit out of my "uncle." While training at Hampstead, he ran a race against his antagonist for 5L., but was beaten. On the day appointed, the fight came off on Crawley Downs, in the presence of a multitude scarcely less numerous than that assembled at his fight with Turner. Jack had it all his own way, and won without a scratch, in nineteen rounds, and in forty-nine minutes and ten seconds. A good deal of indignation was produced by an event connected with this match, and which showed the vallainy into which some men will plunge in the pursuit of gain. On the morning of fighting, Jack was hocussed by a person well known in the ring. It was suspected that a sleeping potion had been given to him in a glass of mulled wine, and it required all the energy of his friends to prevent its fatal consequences. On the 4th of October, 1819, he had a turn up with Hood, a fighting tailor, in Battersea-fields; and after fighting four rounds, sewed up his opponent, who it is but due to state, proved himself a good customer, and gave Jack the quid pro quo. In June, 1819, Jack was matched by an amateur against Scroggins, for 100L a-side; but this having been done without Jack's knowledge, and having just then paid a large deposit for "the Hole-in-Wall," Chancery-lane, he reluctantly suffered his friend to forfeit.
_ At this period it was considered that Jack had received not less than 1,200L. by his good fortune, but "easy got, easy gone." - As fast as it was received it was spent - until at last prudence suggested the expediency of laying the foundation of something substantial for his family, and he accordingly closed his bargain for "The Hole in the Wall," under the patronage of General Barton, his friends giving him a pipe of wine, instead of a piece of plate, to commence operations; and on the 17th of August, 1819, he gave his opening dinner, at which Mr.Jackson presided. Two years were now devoted to the duties of a Boniface, when Jack once more "came out," or rather gave a challenge to all England, of his weight, for five hundred guineas. This sum he subsequently reduced to 300L., and the gauntlet was taken up by the friends of Jack Martin, who for the second time, matched him against the Nonpareil. There was a good deal of management about this affair, and we have reason to believe that Randal was strongly tempted to do wrong - but he was honest to the back bone, and it was "no go." Those who calculated upon his weakness therefore found themselves in the wrong box; and the match came off on the square on the 16th September, 1821, on Crawley Downs, and was decided in one round. Whispers were afloat as to the motives for so short a struggle on the part of Martin; but it is not our purpose to go back into details which are sufficiently fresh in the recollection of the sporting world. Martin subsequently challenged Jack to renew the combat, for 300 guineas, and after a good deal of newspaper chaff, a third match was made on the 11th May, 1822, for 300L a-side, and a bet of 700 guineas, to take place on the 3rd September. Two deposits, amounting to 410L. were down, but on the third meeting, Randall's friends were too late by seven minutes, and Martin claimed and received forfeit. On the 21st of May following, he publicly challenged Martin, at the Fives' Court, to fight for 500L or 1000L; and on the 27th August, a fourth match was made for the former sum, to come off on the 3rd of December; but this, although the whole stakes of 1000L. were made good, became a draw, on the ground that Randall's backers, who forfeited the 205L. were threatening to sue Martin for that sum, which had been given to him by friends, and thus ended all negociations between these men. Gypsey Cooper afterwards challenged Jack for 200L. but he refused to fight for less than 300L. He had a house and business to attend to, and a wife and family to support, which he would not neglect for less. From thenceforth he pursued the beaten path of a publican, and was highly respected by all ranks of the fancy. The liberality of his friends, however, added to his own predilection for daffey, gradually paved the way to the "break up" of his constitution, and for some months back he was but the shadow of his former self. There has recently been a good deal said about a match between him and Dick Curtis, but we believe no serious intention of the sort was entertained by either man, nor would the condition of Randall have justified such an undertaking.
_ Such is the general outline of this man's career. That he had his faults, we will not attempt to deny, and who is there without them? - but he maintained to the last, towards his friends, a sincere feeling of gratitude, and his memory will ever be respected for the honesty which invariably characterised his appearance in the Ring.
_ We regret to add, that his widow is not left in the most flourishing circumstances; but it is pleasing to find, that the amateurs of pugilism are about to endeavour, as much as possible, to repair her loss, by giving her a benefit at the Tennis-court; at which every man in the ring, we have no doubt, will be proud to assist.

Bell's Life In London 1828

MARCH 16, 1828

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