Modern Street Ballads

This fight scarcely comes within the scope of this work, but I iintroduce it, because it was supposed to be the last of Prizefighting. Unfortunately, the brutal sport has been revived, but it can never attain the dimensions and importance it enjoyed during the latter part of the reign of George III, and the whole of that of George IV. Gully was page to that monarch and M.P. for Pontefract, and Jackson was a gentleman, after his kind.
      Sayers was of Irish extraction, though born at Brighton. Heenan’s parents were also Irish, although America was the place of his birth. The fight between these two took place on April 17, 1860, near Farnborough. They fought thirty-seven rounds in two hours and twenty minutes. Sayers was all but helpless, and Heenan, although full of fight—indeed, he ran amuck of every body at last—was blind, when the police and spectators broke into the ring, and a more disgraceful scene was never witnessed, even at a prize-fight. Many noblemen and Members of Parliament attended this fight; in fact, many of the latter made a subscription in Sayers’ behalf, as also did the Members of Lloyd’s, the Stock Exchange, and the brokers in Mark Lane—clogged, however, with the condition that he should fight no more. Altogether over three thousand pounds were subscribed and invested for the benefit of his children, he receiving the interest for life. He became partner and afterwards proprietor of Howe’s and Cushing’s Circus—at which he lost all the money he had. He drank fearfully, and shortly afterwards died of consumption, aged thirty-nine. His tomb may be seen in Highgate Cemetery.


Attend, you sons of Erin, and listen with delight,
To a ditty, ’tis concerning the great and glorious fight,
On the seventeenth of April, when thousands went with joy,
To see the English champion, and the bold Benicia boy.

He is young, bold and powerful, no care does him annoy,
He can boldly stand ‘gainst any man, and fib away with joy;
And he’ll beat the English champion, will the bold Benicia boy.

His father, an Irishman, from the King’s County came,
His son is a bold Benicia boy, young Heenan is his name,
The British ring, he did step in, and came up to the scratch,
When Sayers, the English champion, found that he’d got his match.

It was early in the morning, before the cock did crow,
Unto the scene of action these gallant lads did go.
Both men did fight most manfully, to win each one did try,
But they both appeared determined to conquer or to die.

At seven in the morning both men were on the ground,
Heenan floored the gallant champion in nearly every round,
The claret flew in torrents,—each other they did fib,
There’s never been such a battle since the days of old Tom Cribb.

They two hours and six minutes fought—each proved himself a man,
And neither of them would give in while he’d a leg to stand,
But the fight was all in favour of the brave Benicia boy,
When the bobbies bolted in the ring, and did his hopes destroy.

Tom Sayers said he soon would lick the Yankee doodle doo,
But Tom found out at Farnborough, he’d have his work to do,
I’ll bet a pound to half a crown, and stake it all myself,
If they fight again, the Yankee boy, will carry off the belt.

When Heenan was in Derbyshire, preparing for the fight,
They hunted him, like bloodhounds, in the middle of the night.
But he was nothing daunted, but to the ring did fly,
Determined that he’d conquer, gain the victory, or die.

There never were two better men, and none could be more game,
They are both two gallant heroes of honour and of fame.
Then fill a flowing bumper, and jovially drink their health,
May the best man win and conquer, and carry off the belt.

When Heenan came to England, far from a distant land,
They said he was a fool to come, to face an Englishman,
But they were all mistaken when they saw the glorious battle,
Heenan cooked the champion’s bacon, and made his daylights rattle.

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