East London Boxing: Daniel Mendoza

This image depicts Daniel Mendoza, a prominent English prizefighter between 1780-90.

Mendoza was born in Whitechapel in 1764 to a family of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who had lived in London for a century before his birth. He grew up in London’s East End in poor surroundings, working as a glass cutter, labourer, greengrocer’s assistant, and an actor before taking up the profession that would result in his longstanding infamy.

The boxer had his first fight in 1780 at the age of 16, during which he was working for a tea dealer in Aldgate. The fight was not for money but to settle a dispute with a porter, who demanded double the agreed price for a consignment of tea. The porter challenged the owner of the tea dealership to a duel with fists, but Mendoza, believing that the porter was cheating his frail employer, accepted the challenge on his behalf.

The duel with the porter took place outside the tea dealership in a hastily constructed ring. The fight lasted for forty-five minutes, ending when the porter declared he could not continue. This victory brought a small measure of fame to Mendoza as stories of the fight spread through the surrounding areas.

This fight kickstarted Mendoza’s long career in boxing and resulted in his crucial role in developing the scientific technique of support. The boxer published two books on the subject (‘The Art of Boxing’ and ‘The Modern Art of Boxing’) and held frequent public exhibitions.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Mendoza

Image Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum