"The Unwritten History": Alexander Gumby's African America

Gumby's Past > "Negro Fighters"


Scrapbook 82:
"Negro Fighters, pt. 1"
p. [6]

Gumby devoted no fewer than seventeen scrapbooks--more than a tenth of all extant volumes--to individual boxers or to boxing in general. Examples of this passion appear elsewhere in this exhibit with pages devoted to his contemporaries Jack Johnson and Joe Louis. With such an evident interest in the sport, it is hardly surprising that Gumby would seek out at least a few items relevant to its history as well.

Such is the case with this early nineteenth-century engraving of the boxer Tom Molineaux. Born a slave in Virginia in 1784, legend has it that Molineaux's owner eventually granted his freedom as a reward for the money the owner earned by wagering on boxing matches between Molineaux and other slaves. Once a free man, Molineaux traveled to England where he narrowly lost twice (the first time after more than 30 rounds) in the early 1810s to the English boxing champion Tom Cribb. As one of the earliest black boxers to achieve widespread fame, this image of Molineaux (along with several others that Gumby collected) was a fitting start to Gumby's scrapbook on "Negro Fighters."


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