Bar Knuckle boxing champ Big Ben Caunt to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Legendary bare knuckle boxing champ Ben Caunt will become a hall of famer - 159 years after his death.

By Sports Desk
Sunday, 17th May 2020, 12:00 am
Updated Monday, 18th May 2020, 11:34 am
An image of Big Ben Caunt.
An image of Big Ben Caunt.

The fighter, who was born and laid to rest in Hucknall, will be inducted into New York's Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame on July 11.

"I'm dead chuffed," said great-great-grandaughter Linda West, who still lives in the area. "It's something my father wanted, so it's really good to see he will go into the hall of fame."

Caunt - who was known as the Torkard Giant and Big Ben, and is said to have the famous bell at the Palace of Westminster named after him - stood 6ft 2ins tall and weighed 18 stone.

After numerous fights in his teenage years, he embarked upon a colourful career which saw him become English champion and tour America, where he became famous.

In 1838, aged 23, Caunt defeated William Thompson over 76 gruelling rounds on Skipworth Common. His opponent was disqualified for going down without being struck and Big Ben claimed the English title, although this was not generally accepted.

Another Heavyweight championship bout followed in 1841 when opponent Nick Ward was awarded the bout after Caunt allegedly struck him as he was down. But three months later Caunt avenged this defeat, defeating ward in 35 rounds to be declared English champion.

He retired in 1845 after losing his title to Thompson, working as a farm labourer and then running the Coach and Horses pub in Westminster, until it was destroyed in a fire.

Caunt returned boxing 12 years after retiring. His final bout came in 1857, a draw with Nat Langham. Four years later, aged 46, he died of pneumonia.

The story of Caunt - brought to life in the biography Ben Caunt: The Nottinghamshire Bare Knuckle Boxer Who Became Champion of England by David Fells - still captivates his family generations later.Ms West's mother Eileen - Caunt's great-granddaughter - and her father Derek spent years championing his legacy, also restoring and tending to his grave. "When I was little we used to have people come over from America to ask about him," Ms West added.

“It's a shame my parents aren't alive to see this. They would be very proud."