First International Title Fight

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First International Title Fight

Harleston, Norfolk The 29th of July 1751 AD

Unlikely though it seems, the first international title fight took place in the small town of Harleston near Diss on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. The boxers concerned were Jack Slack, known as The Butcher of Norfolk; and a Monsieur Petit from France.
Slack, born in Thorpe near Norwich , had been fighting professionally since 1743. When the 5’ 8” 200lb (that’s 1.73m and 91kg for those who need metric figures) Norfolk man faced Petit in 1751, strangely contesting the title of Champion of England backed by the Duke of Cumberland, he was 30 years old. Renowned as a big hitter but not the most mobile of fighters, Slack defeated his French opponent in – depending on which source you believe – either 25 minutes, or 29 minutes.
The Butcher of Norfolk had genuinely been a butcher, who had his own shop until 1748 when he concentrated on his ring career, opening a school of boxing in Bristol the following year. He was certainly still fighting in 1760, but unlike so many boxers Slack enjoyed a decent retirement, running another shop in Chandos Street in London , though he only lived until July 1768.

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