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JOE WORMALD

(Champion of England 1865-1868)

Born: c.1840 Died: 1871

Joe Wormald was born in Poplar, London and not a lot is known about his growing years in the capital. He was reputed to be of low intelligence, however boxing records describe him as a fine boxer, being skilful, fast, strong and durable, standing just under 6’ tall and weighing from 168lbs.-189lbs. throughout his career. Jem Mace, at the time still the recognized champion did not rate Wormald’s skill that highly and although he remained unbeaten, his record is not really that impressive considering he was involved in just as many no contests as fights. His first recorded fight in 1863 on Rainham Marshes, Essex for a 50 stake against journeyman Jack Smith (Jem Mace’s “Black Wolfe”) ended in a draw after one hundred and thirteen rounds when darkness beat them and the stakes were withdrawn.

His next fight against the durable George Iles of Bristol in 1864 for another 50 purse and held somewhere in or around London was more successful for Wormald, winning in twenty four rounds, but took just over two hours in a tough contest. With Jem Mace, the recognized champion inactive for two years, Wormald was matched against the promising Andrew Marsden at Horley, Surrey and won in eighteen rounds in a fight lasting thirty seven minutes, which had Joe Wormald claiming the championship belt and a purse of 400.

Mace obviously upset at this young usurper, challenged Wormald and articles were signed, but Wormald cried off at the last minute with a supposed arm injury. Two years later the tables were reversed when Ned O’Baldwin arrived late for their championship fight and forfeited the title to Wormald. They did meet the next year, 1868 in America, emigrating there like so many UK pugilists, in a fight billed as for the English title. A purse of $2,000 was put up with the venue being Lynnfield, Mass., but the police intervened after just one round of 10 minutes duration and although O’Baldwin was caught and jailed, Wormald managed to escape to Canada. In Montreal he opened a boxing saloon which became a success, so he opened another one in Quebec in 1870, however later that year Wormald became ill with a pain in his left arm which caused it to wither. He took drugs to relieve the pain, to which he became addicted and was sent to the Marine Hospital in Quebec, where he died the following year.