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                                                                                                                                       BILL DARTS (The Dyer)

Born in 1741 in Spitalfields, London, he is reputed to have been quite a skilful fighter with an abundance of ability, with a deadly punch in either hand, but stamina, courage and a lack of ambition clouded his career in the prize ring. He stood around 5’ 10” and weighed around 185lbs and no doubt had some minor fights around his area of the capital in the early 1760’s. In a period between 1761-1783 that was known as the Black Period for prize fighting in England, with so many inferior men challenging for the Championship of England and when fixed fights were rife, or the title being bought, Bill Darts seems to be one of the better pugilists of this dark period when prize fighting was in fear of dying out.

His first recorded fight is disputed as to whether it was George or Parfitt Meggs that he fought at Shepton Mallet, Somerset in 1764, however it was Bill Darts who was victorious. Darts must have had something, because with help from his backer the Duke of Richmond he was facing the acclaimed champion Tom Juchau in 1766 for a massive 1,000 guinea purse at Guildford, Surrey and beating Juchau in 17 desperate rounds to be the next acclaimed champion. In 1767 he fought two fights that were acclaimed to be, but unlikely to be for the title, firstly against “Bargeman” Dogget at Melksham, Wilts and then against “Butcher” Swansey in Epping Forest, both being for 100 guineas and winning both quite easily.

In 1769 he entered the ring at Kingston-on-Thames with a tough bruiser who had entered into many street fights and turn ups, a man known as Tom Lyons “The Waterman” and although he had the best at the start of this fight Darts was well beaten after 45 minutes, losing his acclaimed title, but reclaimed it after Lyons retired after their fight. The next year he came up against the celebrated veteran Steve “Death” Oliver at Putney in an acclaimed title fight and in a close fight of exceptional skill from both men, Bill Darts emerged the winner after 27 minutes.

In 1771 at Epsom Races Bill Darts defended his title of the acclaimed Champion of England and for a purse of 200 against “The Irish Champion” Peter Corcoran. In a sensational one round only lasting 7 minutes Darts relinquished his crown to the Irishman, however it will always be disputed as a likely fixed fight orchestrated by Corcoran’s backer Captain O’Kelly. Whatever the truth Darts was outcast by the boxing fraternity and never fought again.