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Jem Belcher : Bristol's Bare Knuckle Fighter
Episode 227th June 2021 • The BackTracker History Show • The Backtracker
00:00:00 00:33:33

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They were heroes. Songs were written in their honour, engravings of them were sold, and their names were known to everyone, including those who vehemently opposed the sport.

Bare knuckle fighting became one of the most popular sports in Georgian England: it drew huge crowds, involved vast sums of money

Amongst the crowd of sailors, dockers, colliers and tough locals in a Bristol fair, watching a fight, was 14 year old Jem Belcher, a butcher's boy who was mesmerised by what he was seeing and dreamed of entering the ring himself.

Listen to the story of his rise to fame and eventual fall.


This podcast has been specially edited from a Bradley Stoke Radio show in Bristol, England.

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So, thankyou for listening and until next time guys, take care and look after each other.




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The BIG Bristol to London Stroll

If you wish to donate and sponsor our endeavours to raise money for the Suicide Prevention Bristol charity, then go to our dedicated Justgiving page. This walk and the money raised is dedicated to Sara, who sadly passed away in March this year. Remember, if you feel low, there's always someone you can talk to and you are more important than you probably know.

Thanks in advance for your support.



Luke G. Williams, author, Richmond Unchained, 2015, Amberley Publishing

Dennis Brailsford, Bareknuckles: A Social History of Prize-Fighting (Cambridge: Lutterworth, 1988), pp. 25-6.

John Ford, Prizefighting: The Age of Regency Boximania (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1971), pp. 65-82The Universal Register, 20 December 1787.

Lucienne Boyce.


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Intro music by The Model Folk