Frank Keating of the Guardian has written about an important anniversary for boxing on 17 April – the date in 1860 of the first ever world title fight between James Carmel Heenan of the US and Englishman Tom Sayers.
Most reports describe the fight as having taken place in a “Hampshire field” near Farnborough. As with the 1833 fight between Simon Byrne and “Deaf” Burk, information about venues for prize fights were only passed on by word of mouth in order to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities: prize fights were illegal even thought many establishment figures were enthusiastic spectators.
Rushmoor Borough Council, the modern local authority for Farnborough, suggests the fight was fought near the Ship Inn, which is about three-quarters of a mile from the Farnborough mainline station. Special trains had been organised to transport thousands of spectators from Waterloo Station in London to see the fight.
Can anyone pinpoint the site of the fight more accurately? Leave a comment if you can.