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Remembering Tom Molineux

Tom Molineux was one of the most famous boxers in the nineteenth century and fate saw that he died, and was buried, in Galway.

A promise from the Galway people to give him a suitable gravestone worthy of a champion was finally fulfilled in 2019, two hundred years after his death.

Born into slavery in Virginia in 1784, Molineux wowed crowds in his native country with his strength and technique.

Some reports say that he won his freedom by winning a boxing match. Either way, he ended up in New York where he came to be known as one of America's best fighters.

At the time, however, boxers needed to make it in Europe to be considered the best in the world.

For this reason, Molineux travelled to England in 1809 where he hoped to be able to earn a living as a prize fighter.

After several high-profile victories, Molineux challenge English champion Tom Cribb in what was the nineteenth-century equivalent of a world title fight.

The fight took place in 1810 and after a brutal contest Molineux lost after thirty-three rounds in highly controversial circumstances.

He challenged Cribb to a rematch in the following year in which he was also narrowly beaten.

Tom Molineux continued to box until 1815, at which point he began to travel around Britain giving boxing exhibitions.

There was a big interest in boxing in Ireland and Molineux began to tour the island in 1817. By the summer of 1818 he was in Galway.

It was here that he was discovered sick and destitute on the streets having developed an addiction to alcohol. He may also have had tuberculosis.

He was treated with kindness by the army who brought him to the Shambles Barracks in Galway City where he died on 4 August. He was only 34.

Tom Molineux was buried in St. James' Cemetery in Mervue, the plan being to erect a headstone to him.

The plan was never carried out however and it was not until December 2019 that such a gravestone was erected to Molineux, dedicated by Katie Taylor to a man who had gone from slavery to being one of the foremost sportsmen in the world.


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