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robert.snell1@ntlworld.com

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The great Dutch Sam

18th century London saw a large influx of the poorer Jewish community arriving into the East End of London from Central and Eastern Europe and causing enormous overcrowding leading to a strained atmosphere between the Jewish community and the locals. Into this tough atmosphere, a boy was born in 1775, to the Jewish community, called Samuel Elias who in his growing years was to become known as Dutch Sam. In this tough area of East London he grew up and survives by learning to use his fists. He went to the academy run by the great Daniel Mendoza, also known as Mendoza the Jew, the former Champion of England, where Sam’s skills were honed to perfection. His first recorded fight was in 1801 and reputed to be against “Butcher” Baker and Sam standing no more than 5’ 6” and weighing around 133lbs soon disposed of his opponent

. Several opponents later and the London Fancy could see that this muscular little man with his deft footwork, speed and agility and with fists of iron was a champion in the making. Although he trained hard it was noticed that Sam always had a bottle of gin handy, his mantra being that three glasses of gin three times a day was part of his training programme. By 1804 he was considered good enough to be matched against the recognized lightweight champion of England Caleb Baldwin at Woodford Green, London where after Baldwin had the better of the first few rounds, Dutch Sam gradually wore him down under his barrage of thunderous punches, so much so that Baldwin was beaten after 34 epic rounds, his only ever defeat. Although he had beaten the champion Sam never claimed the title himself and next faced the Bristol born Bob Britton who was disposed of in 30 rounds, although it is claimed that with his liking for gin, he was drunk when he entered the ring. Finding men of his own weight to fight him difficult, Sam, in 1806, took on Tom Belcher, the brother of Jem, who was taller and 7lbs heavier than him. After a gruelling, bloody and classic fight Sam was declared the winner after 57 rounds.

They met again in 1807 when after it was claimed Sam landed a foul blow in the 37th round, the result after a foul blow was ruled out was firstly given to Sam, but then changed to a draw. The result was a third meeting later that year when Sam was the undisputed winner in 36 rounds. Sam was also acknowledged to have invented the uppercut which he used to deadly advantage in many of his fights and his next opponent in 1808 might have felt the power of it in his punishing defeat to Sam in 25 minutes, although he was more than 20lbs heavier. In 1810 he met the even heavier Dan Medley who at around 164lbs was over 35lbs heavier than Sam, it didn’t matter to Sam though as Medley was punished so severely over 49 rounds that his face was unrecognisable at the end. Now 35 years of age, Dutch Sam decided to retire, there seemed nobody below heavyweight who wanted to take on “the Terrible Jew”. His drinking got worse, but after apparently insulting a certain Bill Nosworthy in 1814 the great and unbeaten Dutch Sam, when challenged, returned to the ring to teach this young upstart a lesson. Sadly it was not to be, the years of hard drinking and age had taken its toll and the young upstart, in 38 rounds, got the better of the old warrior, his unbeaten record gone. The great Dutch Sam fought no more and a year later, due to his excessive drinking, was dead at 41 years old. Many pundits still reckon that pound for pound Dutch Sam was the greatest of them all in the bare knuckle age.