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robert.snell1@ntlworld.com

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BILL HAYES

(Acclaimed as the best in the land at lightweight 1853-1857)

Bill Hayes was born in London in 1827, a tall man for a lightweight at 5’ 8” and weighing 136lbs and slightly built with a reputation as a scientific boxer who had won five contests in the London area, the last two against good opposition in Sam Martin and George Crockett. Because of his defensive style of fighting, many of Hayes' fights were long in duration. Against Mike Madden in 1849 the contest resulted in being the longest in prize fighting history at the time with Madden losing after 185 rounds in just over 6 hours, in which Hayes also lost the sight of his left eye. He next fought Alec Keene in 1851 in the Forest of Dean and now being blind in one eye, his cautiousness resulted in him being ruled out after 45 rounds for continuously dropping on one knee.

In 1851 he came up against Ned Donnelly and being evenly matched, after 39 rounds lasting 145 minutes it was declared a draw because of darkness, to be resumed at a later date. Two months later the two men met again , with the fight going much the same way as the first, the evenly fought contest was declared a draw after another 19 rounds taking in 195 minutes. Late 1851 saw Bill Hayes beat Jack Jones in 101 rounds, after nearly 4 hours of fighting. Hayes didn’t fight again until he went up against Jack Grant in February 1853 in another draw because of darkness, after 73 rounds lasting 110 minutes and continued the next month, which after 115 rounds was called to a halt and again a draw agreed to after 204 minutes. In November 1853 Bill Hayes took on Jack Jones again who was currently generally recognized as the top lightweight in the country, but after 72 rounds darkness again called a halt to the proceedings until the next day. Jones’ camp was not keen on a resumption of proceedings, wanting to give their man more recovery time, but this was overruled. The next day Jones did not show, forfeiting the fight to Hayes and therefore the accolade of the best lightweight in the country was now bestowed by the majority on Hayes. Johnny Walker, the old recognized champion, returned from America at around this time, a match was made in 1854 between the two men as Walker had never lost his title in the ring. Walker did not show for the weigh-in so the fight was awarded to Hayes. Another match was made for December 1855 and the two fought for 36 rounds lasting 148 minutes, until darkness, with an agreement to resume the affair at a later date, but it never materialized, as both fighters announced their retirements from the ring. Walker retired for good, but Hayes changed his mind.

He took on Jem Massey in 1856, but after 36 rounds the police intervened so it was resumed later and like so many of Hayes fights, again the contest ended in a draw after 51 rounds taking 112 minutes. Hayes' last fight was against rising star Bob Travers in 1857 and the now aging Bill Hayes lasted until the 78th round and 225 minutes of fighting, until caught by a tremendous body punch and it was all over.

No one could say they didn’t get their money's worth at a Bill Hayes fight!