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robert.snell1@ntlworld.com

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JACK CABBAGE (aka Stephen Strong)

How he got his name is a matter of conjecture, along with reference to him as “Iron Arm Cabbage”, but he was born c.1798 in Hanham, now part of Bristol. Cabbage weighing around 11 stone, apparently didn’t take training too seriously, preferring drinking and womanizing. Never to make the really big time as a top pugilist, he was known as a very useful provincial fighter who went in with some other well known and reputable fighters.

He probably had several local fights or turn-ups early on in his career against little known men such as Manby (a baker) and Roberts where Cabbage was victorious in both, before his first fight of note against Tom Hall of Birmingham in October 1817 at Dundry, Bristol, winning in 21 rounds for a 10 guinea purse. After this victory he was later involved in a fight, possibly a turn up with a man called Broad on Durdham Downs, just outside Bristol, which Cabbage won in 20 minutes and then with a man recorded only as the “Rough Jockey” with Cabbage victorious in 50 minutes. With victory in 14 rounds over the useful Abraham Newton at Marsh Fields, near Bristol in Sept. 1818 for a purse of 100 guineas the Bristol and London Fancy began to take notice of this provincial fighter.

For 100 guineas at Farnham Royal, Bucks in March 1820 he was next pitched in against the experienced and top rated Jack Martin (Master of the Rolls), who had been in with, although losing to, Ned Turner and Jack Randall. After a bruising 75 rounds the badly beaten Jack Cabbage had to finally submit to Jack Martin who was the better man throughout and where Cabbage was out cold for 15 minutes after the fight. When visiting the Bath Races in July of 1820 Jack Cabbage got involved in a turn up with Clayter, known as "the Hero of Bath" and in a tremendous fight with Clayter who was knocked down many times, Cabbage finally subdued him after 20 minutes. A return fight with Albert Newton in the Summer of 1820 at Saltford, between Bristol and Bath, saw a reverse in fortune for Cabbage when Newton beat him. Jack Cabbage’s next opponent and another fighter who had fought and lost to the great Jack Randall, was the experienced Joe Parish at Moulsey Hurst, Surrey in August 1822, where Cabbage obliterated Parish in just 8 rounds lasting about the same in minutes for 25 guineas.

When March 1823 arrived he came up against the tough as teak “Gypsy” Jack Cooper, another experienced fighter, who had beaten Jack Scroggins the previous year, Jack Cabbage was by now showing heavy signs of warfare and suffering from either bad eyesight in one of his eyes or completely blind in it. They met at Twickenham Common, London where Cooper proved too much for the Bristolian, winning in 51 rounds for a purse of 50 sovereigns and again in a return fight at Yate Common, Bristol he lost again to the gypsy in 26 rounds. He then faced another gypsy, an Irish tinker called Tom Banks at Iron Acton, near Bristol for 10 sovereigns a side, in July 1823 and in a long, tough fight finally got the gypsy to give in after 28 rounds. Scant records believe he fought Jem Bailey a fellow Bristolian, some say 1822, others say May 1824 at Batley which is in Yorkshire, a distant venue for two Bristolians. It's a possibility it could have been held at Batley Court in Bristol or near it, but wherever the fight was held, the police apparently broke it up after 57 minutes.

On July 22nd 1824 Jack Cabbage who had been knocking back the gin or “daffy” as it was known, on the previous day, was found drowned either by suicide or accident with the coroners verdict being “lunacy”, possibly a verdict for either being punch drunk due to the nature of his career, or perhaps depression, who knows?