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robert.snell1@ntlworld.com

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CYRUS DAVIS

“The Gay Bristol Boy”

Born in Bristol in 1795 Cyrus Davis, when fully grown stood about 5’ 9” and weighing around 154lbs, and a pupil of George Nichols, conqueror of Tom Cribb, bought an exciting and popular fighting style to the prize ring, described as much like the celebrated Tom Belcher, being quick around the ring with combinations of rapid, awesome punches with both fists, which quickly gave him his nom de plume of "The Gay Bristol Boy".

Some records show that he first fought Ned Holmes at the Epsom Races of May 1816 for an undisclosed purse and the result recorded being a draw. There is also a record of Davis beating Moulder in October 1816 at Moulsey Hurst, whether it is Cyrus Davis or not I don’t know. In 1817 he beat Ned Britton at Durdham Downs, Bristol in a turn-up of 9 minutes and then Bill Davis, a tough Bath butcher in 15 minutes before meeting Abe Belasco in 1818 at Rickmansworth, Herts, who had fought and lost to the great Jack Randall 9 months earlier, overwhelming the jewish fighter in just 10 minutes consisting of 9 rounds, for a purse of 20 guineas. In 1819 and being judged by the London Fancy as a top light amongst middleweights now, he pitched up against the highly rated Ned Turner at Wallingham Common, Surrey, who had also lost to Randall only 6 months earlier. It was Cyrus Davis first loss in an epic battle that lasted 32 rounds of 45 minutes duration with a 200 guinea stake resting on the result.

This knockback to his growing reputation resulted, later that year in next fighting a relative novice, Irishman John Bushell, who he easily beat over 16 rounds taking only 15 minutes at Harpenden Common, Herts, for a 100 purse. After that, at a Tom Spring benefit, he gloved up with Jack Randall and displaying his skill and showing up well against the “Nonpareil” in an exhibition bout. In 1823 he again fought Ned Turner, although Turner’s heavy drinking made him more a shadow of his former glory, although still recognised as the best middleweight in the country after he reclaimed the title when Jack Martin, who beat him in 1821 had since retired. Once again at Harpenden Common, Cy Davis now claimed the championship by beating Turner in 18 rounds, lasting 35 minutes, for a 200 purse. However Davis suffered terrible damage in the fight to a forefinger on his right hand which eventually had to be amputated, ending his again rising fighting career, but left many wondering just how successful he could have carried on to be. He became a publican, but died at 51 years of age in 1846 of heart disease.

 

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