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David Killingray

Cricketer, politician, and broadcaster born into a middle‐class family in Trinidad. When he left school, he became a clerk in a local company, a post he held for the next ten years until 1927, the year he married Norma Cox. His father was a good cricketer and Constantine also became an excellent fielder. He played for his school and as a member of the Trinidad team in inter‐colonial matches; he was selected for the West Indies team to tour England in 1923, and again in 1928. During that tour Constantine's distinguishing moment came in the match against Middlesex in June 1928 when his skills as bowler, fielder, and scorer enabled the West Indies to defeat their opponents by three wickets. C. L. R. James wrote of him he took 100 wickets made 1 000 runs and laid claim to being the finest fieldsman ever ...

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Phil Vasili

Footballer born on 8 March 1956 in London. A winger, Cunningham played for Haringey Schools and South‐East Counties Schools before joining Leyton Orient in July 1974. His delicate skills and lightning change of space soon attracted football's elite. In 1977 he signed for West Bromwich Albion, joining fellow black players Brendan Batson and Cyrille Regis. The team became known for their flamboyant and exciting football, while Cunningham, Regis, and Batson were labelled by the manager Ron Atkinson football's Three Degrees, after the US soul group.

In April 1977 Cunningham played for the England under‐21 team against Scotland, the first black footballer to do so (but not the first player of colour to wear an England shirt). He graduated to the full England team, and between May 1979 and October 1980 he won six caps During this period he was transferred to Real Madrid the giants of European ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Boxer and ex‐slave from Tennessee, United States, who made a number of trips to England to fight. Dobbs was born into slavery in Knoxville, Tennessee, and picked cotton until he was 15. A slight man, standing 5 feet 8½ inches and weighing just 9 stone 9 pounds, he trained as a lightweight and welterweight. During his illustrious career he fought over 1,000 matches, not retiring until he was 60. In 1898 he made his first trip to England, where, in an infamous fight with Dick Burge he was offered a bribe by a bookmaker of £100 a huge sum in those days to lose the fight He agreed to the deal and was provided with laxatives before the match but switched with a friend who bore some resemblance to him and who was willing to take the medication Dobbs won the match On the same trip he knocked out ...

Article

Philip Nanton

Boxer born in St Kitts on 11 May 1798. Kendrick moved to London around 1811, trained under Bill Richmond, and boxed for public entertainment between the years 1819 and 1826. He was described as tall, bony, and athletic, weighing around 13 stone, and ever seeking a fight. On one occasion, when he criticized the methods of Bill Richmond, he and the American started a fist fight in the street. Later he baited Tom Molineaux, and, on another occasion, stood at the door of the Fives Court during a benefit, threatening ‘to mill all the “big ones” ’.

Kendrick's most impressive performance arose when he presented himself, uninvited, at a private sporting dinner in Westminster, on 11 May 1819 offering to fight any of the heroes present The dining table was cleared away and a purse of 25 guineas was put up for the fight ...

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Nazneen Ahmed

The first recorded black boxer in Britain. Lashley fought Tom Treadaway, the brother of a celebrated fighter, Bill Treadaway, at Marylebone Fields on 13 June 1791 The match lasted 35 minutes and ended when Treadaway was knocked unconscious he never recovered from his injuries In match commentaries ...

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Nazneen Ahmed

Left‐winger for Plymouth Argyle Football Club and one of the first prominent black footballers in the English League, rumoured to have been recommended to England selectors. Leslie's football career began at his local club, Barking Football Club. He was 20 years old when he was spotted and signed by Plymouth Argyle's manager Robert Jack. In his first season at Argyle between 1921 and 1922 he played in nine games. During the 1924–5 season he became a regular player, missing only two League fixtures and scoring 40 goals. His partnership with Sam Black from 1924 onwards proved a huge success. His last match for Argyle came in 1934 after an Argyle career that spanned 400 League and FA appearances and 134 goals Leslie and Black were famous nationwide for being one of the country s finest left flanking partnerships However only one of the two left wingers was eligible ...

Article

John Gilmore

Barbadian and English county cricketer. Marshall was born and grew up in Barbados, where he first developed his love for cricket at St Giles' Boys' School. He later described how, as a boy, he would go along to Sunday School with his Bible in one hand and a cricket ball in the other. He first played competitively at the under‐15s level at Parkinson School, and later played for the Texaco Club, for the famous local club Spartan, and for Banks' Brewery.

His appearance for Barbados against Jamaica in 1978, when he took six wickets for 77 runs, marked the beginning of nineteen years of first‐class cricket, cut short only by the illness that was to kill him at a tragically early age. He first appeared for the West Indies in their tour of India in 1978 and he was also to play for the English county side ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐American boxer who gained a significant reputation in England. Molineaux was born in Virginia and was the slave to a wealthy playboy who frequently used him in fights against other slaves. In one particular event Molineaux's master bet $100,000 that he would defeat another slave in a match and promised to grant him his freedom should he win. Molineaux won and left for England in 1803, where he met and subsequently trained under Bill Richmond, another African‐American boxer of consequence. Molineaux's first match in England was against Tom Blake, whom he knocked out in the eighth round. Richmond prepared Molineaux for his important fight against Tom Cribb, an opponent whom Richmond had never managed to defeat. In December 1810 the match between Cribb and Molineaux took place at Copthorne near East Grinstead and after 39 rounds Molineaux lost The fight was an especially trying one ...

Article

Shivani Sivagurunathan

Blackboxer who fought and lived in Britain. Perry was born in Annapolis, Nova Scotia. He initially served on a British man‐of‐war for four years and, after being discharged, turned to a career in boxing. His time on the man‐of‐war earned him the nickname John ‘the Black Sailor’ Perry. He arrived in London in 1845 after walking from Birmingham, having hoped to find a patron for his prizefighting along his journey. In London he met Johnny Broome, a former British lightweight champion. Broome trained Perry, and in the following year he faced his first professional opponent, Bill Burton Perry was an entertaining fighter not simply because he was physically impressive he was handsome 6 feet 1½ inches tall and weighed 212 pounds but also because he moved with skill and poise His style of milling was particularly striking where he would move around his opponent while balanced ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐Americanboxer who settled in Britain and became the first black boxer of international repute. Richmond was born in Cuckold's Town near New York and was a servant to a British general based there who later became Lord Percy, the Duke of Northumberland. In 1777 Percy sent Richmond to Yorkshire to study, after which he became an apprentice to a cabinetmaker in York. He taught himself how to box and subsequently turned to prizefighting in London.

Richmond apparently created his own style of sidestepping and dodging the bull rushes of opponents. He was a formidable fighter despite his small physical structure. In 1805 he defeated two respected fighters the Jewish boxer Youssop and Jack Holmes otherwise known as Tom Tough and his reputation took off A major fight with Tom Cribb one of England s most feared boxers and a future national heavyweight champion saw an ignominious defeat ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

Equestrian and man of letters, favourite of the Duchess of Queensberry and contemporary of Ignatius Sancho and Olaudah Equiano. Born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts, he was brought to England at the age of 10 and given to the Duchess of Queensberry as a gift. Under the Duchess's direction Soubise became an accomplished fencer and equestrian, serving as assistant to the Italian fencing master Dominico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo.

Soubise is best remembered as a fop in London high society. Claiming to be an African prince, he was known for entertaining audiences in fashionable London clubs with comic songs and amateur theatre. He often escorted aristocratic women to the opera and was rumoured to be sexually engaged with the Duchess—a relationship depicted in an engraving by William Austin of the pair fencing (1773).

While Soubise regarded himself as a talented letter writer and poet of ...

Article

Phil Vasili

Footballer and soldier born on 28 April 1888 in Folkestone, Kent. From 24 February 1898 he lived at the Children's Home and Orphanage in Bonner Road, Bethnal Green, London. In 1908–9 he came to public prominence playing for Clapton Football Club: ‘catch of the season’ (Football Star, 20 March 1909). The following season he made his first team debut for Tottenham Hotspur in their inaugural game in the first division: ‘Tull is very good indeed’ (Daily Chronicle, 13 September 1909).

He had much to contend against on account of his colour commented one contemporary anonymous journalist Yet Tull is so clean in mind and method as to be a model for all white men who play football Mysteriously at the end of the following season he was transferred to Northampton Town playing over 110 matches before enlisting in the Footballers Battalion Middlesex Regiment in ...

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Kenny Jervis

The first black British boxer to win a world title. Born in Leamington Spa in the Midlands, Turpin was the last of five children. His father, Lionel, originated from British Guiana, and, after fighting in the First World War, had settled in Britain. Less than a year after Turpin's birth his father suddenly died, leaving Beatrice Turpin a widow and single mother. Struggling to survive, she later remarried and settled in Warwick, where Turpin spent his formative years.

Influenced by his brother Dick, he began boxing in the early 1940s, as did Jack, the second eldest. Although potential title contenders, the British Boxing Board of Control stated that non‐Whites could not compete for championship belts. The Turpins' reputation in the boxing world later became instrumental in the lifting of this ban in January 1948 Shortly after Dick Turpin became the first black fighter to win a British title paving ...

Article

Jacqueline Jenkinson

Britain's first black international footballer. Watson was a renowned amateur football player, playing full‐back for Glasgow amateur clubs Maxwell Football Club and Parkgrove in 1878–9, before winning international honours. He appeared for Scotland against England and Wales in 1881–2 while playing for the leading amateur Scottish club Queen's Park.

Watson was born in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana), in 1857. His surname suggests Scottish parentage or descent although no firm information has been found on his ancestry. He had a privileged educational upbringing, being educated at Halifax grammar school and Rugby before completing his education at Glasgow College in the 1870s. His capabilities stretched beyond the football pitch as he became match secretary and organizer of the amateur club Parkgrove. Yet, according to the census of 1881 the year of his international football debut Watson was apparently rather humbly employed as a warehouseman He married a Glasgow ...

Article

David Dabydeen

The first black British footballer in the Football League. Wharton was born in Jamestown, Accra, Gold Coast (present‐day Ghana), to a half‐Grenadian and half‐Scottish father and a Ghanaian mother. Always a gifted sportsman, he set the first world record in 1886 for the 100‐yards dash during the Amateur Athletics Association sprint. Apart from football, he was also involved in other sports such as cricket and cycling. Wharton signed up with Preston North End in 1886 as goalkeeper after being spotted while playing for Darlington While at Preston North End he played in the FA Cup semi finals one of the high points of his career Subsequently he played professionally for various football clubs such as Rotherham Town Sheffield United Stalybridge Celtic and Ashton North End At Sheffield United he played three games for the club s first team Despite his strength as a goalkeeper he could not maintain his ...