Tom Sayers

Photo:Orange Row

Orange Row

Photo by Peter Crowhurst

A North Laine boxer

By Peter Crowhurst, North Laine resident

Sayers was one of the great English boxing champions and he was born and bred in the North Laine - in fact he was from the Pimlico area, of which only Orange Row now remains. Sayers was known as the Brighton Boy and such was his fame that when he died his burial at Highgate Cemetery in 1865 was attended by 10,000 people.

Sayers often used the Plough Inn at Rottingdean for his training HQ in the 1850s when he was establishing himself as a national boxer.

The last English champion

Sayers became the last English champion before the introduction of the Queensbury Rules when in 1857 he beat William Perry. He was also the first boxer to fight an international match when in 1860 he fought the American John Heenan. Sayers seemed to have the advantage when after 37 rounds and 2 hours 20 minutes of fighting the crowd broke into the ring and the fight was declared a draw. Sayers received a special Silver Championship Belt to commemorate the fight. He retired from the ring after this fight.

He worked on the railway viaduct

Sayers was born in 1826 and was brought up in the Pimlico area of the North Laine. He was a bricklayer by trade and worked on the London Road Viaduct, which was completed in 1846. Sayers was not a big man, in fact he was only 5ft 8 ins and 112-154 lbs and had to fight men who were generally much bigger than he.

Following his retirement in May 1860 Sayers lived for just five more years, dying of diabetes on 8th November 1865 at the age of 39.

Commemorating Tom Sayers

In 1954 Sayers was elected to the Ring magazine Boxing Hall of Fame.

In April 2010 a plaque commemorating Tom Sayers was erected near to Orange Row, where Tom had lived. For information about the plaque unveiling, click here.

This page was added on 19/02/2008.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.