Dan Mendoza v John Jackson 15 April 1795
Published by – The Fort Wayne Sentinel 5th march 1910
Firmly established as the. leader of the fistic sport by
his decisive victories over Humphries, Mendoza held his
place by many well contested fights. Two defeats of
"Bill" Warr Were among the most remarkable of his
achievements. His meeting with John Jackson took
place at Hornchurch on April 15, 1795
Mendoza’s first impulse was to refuse the challenge.
"Come, Dan," said Mr. Bullock in surprise. "What do you wait upon, man? It is found money.” "Who said I was waiting upon anything?" returned the champion sullenly. "I will fight him."
To Bullock and others of his friends with whom he passed the evening the prospect of a match between Mendoza and the latest aspirant. John Jackson, promised nothing but another feather in their favorite's cap. Their confidence and assurance were well enough, but after the heartening company had left him alone his thoughts veered back to that first impulse of retreat.
Beyond a doubt when they told him that John Jackson desired a meeting with him he had been minded to turn aside from It. And this was a strange thing. Ho wondered if some grain of cowardice had lingered in him through these years to sap him now. He had seen Jackson some months .before at a sparring saloon, a fine, stalwart athlete, a pink thunderbolt of a man, ruthless, fearless, dangerous. He remembered that as he looked upon Jackson he had felt a little nervous quiver somewhere. Jackson had used his own tactics, not bettered, but with battering power. Since his early boyhood, when as a ragged Whitechapel waif he bad launched his career by hammering a great slogging rough into submission, he had always
faced a fight with a thrill of satisfaction. And now some lurking instinct was plucking at him, prompting him to avoid this meeting.
He was thirty-two years old, young as men are counted, but a veteran of the ring. For thirteen of those years he had fought constantly to win and to hold supremacy. It occurred to him with sudden force that throughout that period he had kept his winning record clear by ceaseless struggle against men of great strength and weight .Craft and skill had been pitted incessantly against brawn and muscle. And Jackson was a veritable Hercules , young and vigorous. Sharply he sprang to his feet, striking the table a blow that sent the empty tankards to dancing. The lingering patrons of the Inn glanced at him anxiously, but breathed again when he caught up his hat and plunged into the night.
Ten minutes later he burst Into the rear parlor of Brown's. A bout was in progress between two youngsters and the cheering crowd that scrambled and shifted as the milling pair rushed from side to side had no eyes for him. Unnoticed, he elbowed to a smaller room at the side, where be stripped his upper garments to his shirt. He stepped out as the uproar subsided, one of the contestants having given up the fray. Before the circle of spectators was broken he moved to the center, and for the first time the gathering became aware of his presence.
“Who Fights ?” he demanded briefly, they stared, astonished at the apparition. the champion stood erect, with loose hung arms and head advanced, sweeping them with a defiant glance. His face was flushed, his eyes were bright. “Who fights ?” he repeated.
The Golden Challenge.
"Don't look to me, Dan," said the victor in the recent set to, retreating in a panic not wholly assumed.
"Find some one else to put your drubbing on." A young sport, no mean amateur himself, and a keen follower of the sport, thrust forward.
“You’re not drunk are you Dan”, he asked coolly.
Mendoza whirled on him”Come and try me” , he said.
“Not I” returned the other hastily. “I did but ask. But you must admit it is not like yourself to seek a battle for love or a bellyful. “
Mendoza took a small purse from his pocket and threw it to the floor with a sound of chinking gold.
“That’s for the man who will stand up to me until one of us can stand no more” he answered.
Babble and confusion followed the announcement, each man in the crowd coming forward eagerly with suggestions, though evading the offer for himself. It was not every day that the fancy might see t h e champion in action, and loud were the urgings upon this or that boxer to pick up the gage. The young fellow who had first spoken hurried to the street. He returned almost immediately with a strange tow, a huge strapping fellow more than six feet in height, with bulging shoulders, a small round head and leering face.
“It’s Jemmy, the chair man” he cried. “Her, you earn that”. He caught up Mendoza’s purse and pressed it into the giants hand. The chair man weighed the purse, grinned , nodded and stripped. Mendoza aglow with satisfaction, noted his adversary’s bulk and lines approvingly. Measured against the newcomer the champion, with his scant five feet seven inches, looked like a terrier set alone to bait a bear. The circle quickly opened out, the men approached for the handclasp, and with a whirl of fists the battle was joined.
Three rounds they fought, when jimmy, the chair man, took a temporary leave of Consciousness and lapsed, a featureless, helpless hulk upon the floor.. Three rounds of delirium for the howling spectators and for Daniel Mendoza .At the end the champion, scarcely breathed, gazed upon his work and smiled. He had wiped out the reproach that the traitorous something within had cast upon him. Jackson ? why, he could beat Jackson hands down. Restored to full confidence, warmed in courage, once more sure of himself the great master of the science betook himself to home and bed with an easy heart.
On the day appointed for the match hundreds of the most distinguished patrons and amateurs of the sport were met in and about Hornchurch in Essex. The identity of the challenger had nearly proved as great an attraction as the fame of the champion himself , for John Jackson was highly regarded and had many and influential friends.
Born in London Jackson was the son of an eminent and wealthy builder and belonged to a class which entitled him to the distinction of a scrupulous “Mr” in a society attentive to fine gradations . As a boy he had become a constant attendant at various sparring schools and he had developed into the most promising amateur of the time.His first professional encounter, at the age of twenty, was with Fewterel, a Birmingham champion, and he later lost a fight with George Ingleston, the redoubtable brewer , by breaking a bone in his leg. Since then he had undertaken no important battle until his ambition moved him to challenge Mendoza.
The place chosen for the meeting was a meadow just outside the town sloping to a hollow at the center and forming a natural amphitheatre. A stage twenty four feet square had been erected so that all in the three thousand crowd who gathered in the meadow could have an excellent view of the proceedings. Close about this stage the favoured ones took position, forminga brilliant ring of uniforms and costumes .Among them were the Duke of Hamilton, Sir John Phillipson, Mr Clark, Mr Bullock, Mr Lee, Mr Fawcett, all noted for their active encouragement of the fistic sport.
Mendoza appeared, working slowly through the press, at one o’clock. He was followed by his seconds, Harry Lee, and Symonds as his bottle holder. Jackson attended by “Tom” Johnson as his second and Wood as bottle holder, came from another direction and the rivals climbed upon the stage at the same moment. They were greeted with crashing applause and stood bowing in recognition of the reception before seeking their corners. as previously arranged Mr Alexander was to act as Umpire for Mendoza and Mr Allen for Jackson. These two gentlemen having taken posts of observation close against the stage.
At five minutes after one the seconds signaled their readiness and the umpires gave the order for the opening of the fight. Instantly the boxers stepped forward with outstretched hands, ready for the salute. Betting was brisk, running five to four in favour of Mendoza.
The champion made as good a showing as ever as he advanced to the mark. Not remarkable at any time for a commanding presence or unusual grace of form.His condition was still apparently sound. limbs and body free from superfluous flesh and softened curves.he wore his customary expression of calm confidence which had daunted many an opponent ,with his head held up.to all who saw him he was what he had been for six years the unequalled and invincible.
Jackson was much the more impressive figure, though the same could not be remarked of any of the champions adversary’s in the past. He topped Mendoza by the third of a foot and out weighed him some twenty pounds. At this time he was just twenty seven years old, in the full flower of his youth and strength .His limbs were noticeably thicker and more heavy muscled than some of his competitor and he had the further advantage of reach. His posture was after Mendoza’s own and like the master had learned to use both fists with equal facility. His face betrayed some excitement and spoke to those who knew him of supreme resolution.
“I shall win this fight," he had said before mounting the stage, "or stay In the ring until Dan knocks me out of it”
Mendoza, alert as only the successful general of a hundred battles can be to every line and gesture and expression of his opponent, read the iron determination behind Jackson’s front without a qualm. He had quite banished uncertainty and rejoiced to find himself engaged again. Jackson should go the way that Sam martin and Humphries and war had already gone at his hands. it would be a hard fight. Well he had stood a hard hammering more times than he could count. It was a fact, moreover that the prospect of physical suffering had at not time weighed in the slightest to him.
Starting the Fight.
He fell away lightly from the handclasp and tested Jackson's guard with a quick feint. The other was equally wary and Mendoza knew from the way he received the move that there would be no false starts, no wild openings. So much at least was behind him without a blow struck. Jackson, though standing fast was still in no hurry to begin a rush .It was clear he had come to battle with respect for his famous antagonist. The sparred cautiously at first and then more speedily. They circled slowly, joining in rally after rally, while the crowd roared its understanding of the cleverness and brilliance displayed on both sides.
Mendoza suddenly led of strongly with his left for the face, finding what should have been a chance for the real beginning of the conflict. But somehow he had misjudged. His fist was swept aside by Jackson’s right and a jab to the ribs sent him reeling back a full pace. It was an error , that was all, a slight miscalculation of distance that anyone might make.Swiftly he returned and whirling in checked a right swing and got home a solid rap to the side of the neck. he sprung out, while a cheer went up,. Again something went wrong. His feet had not been quick enough to manage his balance, his guard was a trifle slow in rising. Jackson stepped forward with a hard straight drive to the chin. It caught the champion fairly, lifted him clear of the stage and sent him crashing to the floor.
He tried to pick himself up nimbly before Lea ran up, but he was grateful for his seconds aid in reaching his corner. This annoyed him somewhat, but he felt no inward effects of the check .It was nothing unusual to lose the first round. Frequently it had been part of his plan to allow an antagonist such an advantage, deliberately counting on over confidence later. He shook the thought of the fall away from him as he sat on Leas knee and Symonds refreshed him with wet cloths.
When the umpires called the half minute Mendoza sprang to the center with a vim that surprised his followers and as soon as both men were at the mark he smashed in a ripping right hand swing that made Jackson give ground.He followed it up determinedly , seeking to feel out some vital weakness in his antagonist’s method, driving his advantage with all the whirlwind energy that had confused and baffled former adversaries. Three time he out generalled Jackson in the exchange and reached his man, the last with an up springing blow that cut the others cheek to the eye.
The warmth of battle was on him and his blood sang in his veins. This, after all, was the thing he had lived for, to feel a mighty forearm yielding inch by inch to his superior prowess . His feet were sure and fast, he sprang in and out, dodging a sledge hammer swing that could have knocked him over the rail, catching a drive on his arm and countering before the enemy had recovered. he forced Jackson to a corner then turned and hacked him along the side. He saw the blaze of anger grow In the man's eye, and still he hurled upon him, tempting him to a miss and a wrench, slamming In with a lunge to the jaw or a rattle of blows to the ribs. He exulted. Humphreys had been more difficult than this.
Then suddenly he read that Jackson was preparing to close for a wrestle. He welcomed the test. All the holds and angles by which a smaller man might bring a greater at his mercy in a clinch he knew. Never had he avoided the breast to breast struggle. But ho made his knowledge of the other's Intention count.
As Jackson rushed for the grip he Jumped in with a straight smash to the face. Jackson staggered, but his Impetus carried him on and he flung his arms fiercely about the champion. Mendoza slipped quickly to one side, caught the other under the right arm pit and bent, his strength to throw Jackson on over his thigh. The move just failed of success. Jackson tore from the dangerous embrace, danced away and drove with his right. Mendoza saw the blow just the fraction of a second to late. He threw up his arm but the fist struck home under the ear and he dropped at full length.
The Terrific Blow.
He could not quite understand this latest error. As he sat, breathing hard, upon his second's knee he tried to map it out. He had calculated the direction and the force of that blow. It should have been merely a matter of dropping low with bent knees and warding It harmlessly over his head. The only possible explanation was that lie had been slow, woefully slow, a strange thing indeed for Daniel Mendoza— Mendoza, the fastest man In the ring.
As be waited for the third round he resolved that, cost what it might, he would bring this session to a termination in his favour . He saw the line to take with Jackson. He must keep up lightning speed, jabbing at face and wind, holding the chances for those pile driving thrusts at a minimum. Looking across the stage He could see that the enemy had suffered . welts and splotches had risen upon the stout body and the cut on the face was troublesome. He himself was not scratched. Taking careful inventory he found that his only injuries could be traced to the shock and jar of the two terrible falls. He must ward carefully against more of that kind and the moral effect of turning the tables would be great.
It was Mendoza at his best that leaped into action at the break of the third round. The three thousand present gave tongue to unbounded admiration aroused by the champions masterly tactics. Jackson seemed to be intimidated by an onslaught that he could not check. Mendoza fought like a demon, and that was how he wished to fight. He would give no pause, no respite, until he had brought this mountain down with a crash and taught him what it was to lie at the feet of a champion. Jackson could not find him. The smaller man was there, there and here again within the space of a breath, swinging, feinting, lunging, dancing and springing with milling fists and light feet. then he saw his opportunity. Jackson wearied or confused left a gap in the defence and Mendoza rushed in.
Once more he was to late. Just as the blow should have counted a ponderous arm caught it and a deft return hurled him to the other side of the ring. by a supreme effort he retained his balance and flung to renew the attack .but he could not recover the lost advantage. Jackson met him strongly and Dan could see the flash of new courage and boldness in his eye, he had stopped the master in his greatest move and the knowledge of it spoke through every gesture. nothing discouraged Mendoza accepted the offer and met him manfully, knee to knee, taking a terrific swing that laid open his left side, another full upon the mouth, and seeking to work in near enough to respond in kind it was a magnificent rally, every blow with steam behind it and each man ready for punishment as the cost of landing a telling smash. Dan knew how heavy was the drain upon his strength, but stood to his work with tight gripped teeth. he must win this round or the other must crush him where he stood.
There was no breath for cheering in the crowd now and even in the heat and hammer of the fray Dan was conscious that the familiar, ever present buzzing had fallen away. men stood silent to see this thing, for they had never looked upon its like before, nor ever would. Odds , among those who remembered the business of laying wagers, had risen to two to one on Mendoza. and still the clash went on, neither man giving an inch
Out Of His Game
Mendoza knew while the rally was on that he had been drawn out of his logical game. But the fixed idea of winning the round held him to it. He saw the blow coming, just as he had seen before, a right hand swing and a vicious one. He warded, but before he could more than graze the sweeping arm the fist had landed on his jaw and he found himself measuring his length upon the stage.
As Lea and Symonds dragged him to his corner Mendoza became aware of a sensation altogether new to his ring experience. He was angry, not with the roused spirit and tingling nerves that spur a man to great deeds, but with the vexed, irritated, unreasoning anger. Something was wrong and the recurring thought clouded about him that in spite of every spurt he had made the something was slow judgment and slow action at crucial moments. dance and whirl and shift as he might there had been the fraction of an instant in each round where he had failed. It made him furious with himself. Once more he clenched his teeth and swore that he would yet bring this giant down.
As he advanced for the fourth round and fixed his eyes upon those of Jackson he felt vaguely that, as man to man. They had just begun the real struggle. If a change had been wrought in Mendoza he could feel that an equal change had taken place in Jackson. The man met him with a glance of insolence and contempt, a deeper, primal challenge. In a dim way he could even fathom the reason for the new expression.
Jackson, the almost untried professional, had withstood every wile, trick and maneuver of the master and had found himself the winner of each round. Now he meant to go upon the offensive. Mendoza had not long to wait for the proof. Whereas he had taken the initiative heretofore. Jackson now sprang to the attack as they met at the centre. His Hailing arms fell with terrific force upon Dan's guard, beat it down and sent two smashing blows to the body. It was Mendoza's turn to give. He tried to tight cunning, but Jackson would not have it. The younger man brought his fresh strength to Its full play, brushed Mendoza's answering blows aside and came pounding on in steady, unyielding advance.
Dan summoned every ounce of reserve force to meet it. Driven to meet ferocity, he drew upon his anger for answering ferocity and dashed into the combat, striving to hold his ground. But foot by foot he fell back. Twice they closed and wrestled without, advantage and twice they resumed hammer and tongs. Mendoza was cut in a score of places on head and body. Jackson did not escape without avenging wounds. At length Jackson brought the most desperate round of the battle to a conclusion by another drive that closed
Dan's right eye and stretched him once more upon the stage.
Mendoza could scarcely force himself to think collectedly as he lay back upon Lea and panted for breath in the Interval. He had suffered terribly and had not Inflicted half the same damage upon his adversary. The conviction of his own fatal slowness gained upon him, doubling his vexation and futile irritability. He tried to take comfort by recalling how he had polished off Jemmy, the chair man, but a few days before. It was with that thought In mind that be walked slowly to the centre for the fifth round.
Jackson led off with the same fierce resolution that had characterized his former attack. As Mendoza bent his skill to meeting It he watched carefully for an opportunity to close. It occurred to him that he had not been bested yet at. the wrestling and that he might find an aid here. Dodging, he rushed past a wrenching swing and caught Jackson about the body. Jackson roared like a lion at grips with his prey, wrenched partly free and with his loft hand reached out, catching Mendoza by the hair of his head. Vainly Dan sought to free himself. Jackson straightened his arm until he held his enemy helpless And upright before him. The forcing his head down he landed blow after blow with his right fist upon Mendoza’s face.When he finally released his hold Dan dropped like a sack.
Lea was at the rail instantly, appealing to the umpires, urging a foul. but; the umpires would not listen. There was no provision in the articles against holding hair, only against gouging and kicking. The fight must go on.
The Bitter End.
Back on his second's knee once more Mendoza saw the whole situation plainly at last. All his life he had been matched against overwhelming strength and it was the latent knowledge that some day strength would conquer him which had made him shrink from this battle. It was because he had felt the coming of this hour and because he had instinctively recognized Jackson as the man who would usher It in for him. His victory over Jemmy had given him a new lease of confidence. Now the thing had happened, for lie had hung almost senseless in a brutal. Iron hand and suffered the blows he could not ward. He was beaten.
It was the end. Mendoza knew It. But because he did not possess an ounce of cowardice he made no sign of surrender he could not longer lift a finger. His courage remained unshaken, ready to drag his weary body through every torture. Lea whispered to him, advising him to give up a losing battle. Mendoza would have struck him for that word it he had had the strength to spare.
At the calling of the sixth round Lea had to support his principal to the centre of the ring. There the champion braced himself, swaying on his legs, but with head raised, fists advanced, ready to do the utmost that was in him to do. His anger had passed. He understood now that his slackness of judgment and action had been the signals that years had taken their toll and that the time, for defeat was come. Quite calmly he fastened every faculty upon his immediate task, not to make a parade of his manhood, but because that was the only thing possible to him.
Jackson was smiling as lie opened the round, for Dan's condition was apparent. Mendoza, sousing the chance as promptly as if he had just entered the ring, swept aside the too confident guard and smote the smiling mouth. It was a slight, thing, that buffet from a failing arm. but It gave Dan huge comfort. Jackson ceased to smile and attacked hardily.
Mendoza, almost blind, with laboring lungs met the advance as best he could, guarding and hitting where his waning strength would let him.The round was brief and ended like the others, with a straight drive that sent Dan to the floor.
The seventh and eighth rounds were repetitions of the sixth. Mendoza stood or staggered for a few moments and went down when it pleased Jackson to exert himself. The crowd understood. The fight was over. What remained was Mendoza's right if he chose to claim it. Cheer after cheer greeted him as he held doggedly on. His laurels were gone, but he was still the great master and he was showing finally the true foundation upon which his success as a fighter had been built. The three thousand honored him in a way that no throng had ever honored him before.It was an ovation such as few men who lost the battle have had.
At the ninth round both Lea and Symonds were needed in bringing their principal to the mark. They placed him and he tottered as he lost the support of their arms. He recovered himself for the last time and had scarcely strength enough left to lift his fists before his face. Jackson stood opposite, hesitating, unwilling to give the coup de grace to this gallant and stricken foe.
Mendoza waited, expecting the blow. None came. With a faltering gesture of Indignation he took one step forward, bringing up his right hand weakly and seeking to strike. Jackson hit him on the jaw and he fell. When his attendants reached his side he was unconscious. The crowd gave a final cheer for the new champion. Mr John Jackson and the great fight was over .it had lasted only ten and a half minutes.