On Nov. 22nd 1789 Tom Johnson, the most scientific Boxer in England and the reigning Heavyweight Champion, took on Isaac Perrins. Perrins was known as a Giant for his day and was a very powerful fighter who also possessed very good scientific skills. He entered this fight with a lethal reputation as a quick finisher who seemed invincible in routinely whipping his opponents in under 5 minutes. The betting would open with Perrins the 2-1 favorite. What would follow is an exercise which would replay itself over and over again throughout boxing history when the superior scientific boxer enters the ring with the supposedly invincible slugger.
"Isaac Perrins, of Birmingham, one of the strongest men in the kingdom, and who had lifted into a waggon upwards of eight hundred weight of iron without difficulty. Few men ever stood up to him more then five minutes....."
"Perrins was six feet two inches high without his shoes, and weighed close upon seventeen stone, which was three heavier than Johnson."
"The battle took place at Banbury, in Oxfordshire, upon a turf-stage, twenty-four feet square, railed in, and raised about five feet from the ground."
"On stripping, Perrins looked in comparision, like a Hercules, and Johnson, who, in other fights, appeared as a big man, by the side of Perrins now looked as a boy...."
Perrins then made a blow, which, in all probability, had he not have missed his aim, must have decided the contest, and Johnson been killed, from its dreadful force; but Tom was awake to the intent, and eluded it, and in return put in a hit, which could be of no trifling nature, to knock a man down of seventeen stone!"
".....and directly made a spring at Perrins, and put in a lunge over the left-eye, that closed it up in a twinkling...."
"Perrins, like a brilliant of the first water, appeared not the least dull or dismayed by this loss, but rallied in fine style, and went into Johnson and closed his right-eye in return."
"....an gave Perrins a desperate blow upon the nose, which slit it down so completely, as to have the appearence of being done with a knife.-Odds Ten to one upon Tom."
"The manly fortitude of Perrins astonished all present.."
"Johnson had it nearly his own way, hit where he liked, and put in several tremendous facers, that Perrins's head had scarcely the traces left of a human being! still his courage never forsook him, and had not his friends interfered and prevented Isaac from fighting any longer, it was the general opinion that Perrins would have continued the contest till he had died!"
"Sixty-two such rounds of fighting for an hour and a quarter, were scarcely, if ever, before witnessed in the annals of pugilism."
- As written by Pierce Egan in "Boxiana".
These medals can be seen along with a summary of their history on page 89 of the book on early English Bareknuckle boxing by Tom Sawyer titled "Noble Art".
Produced in Birmingham, England.
Bronze / Copper Medals or Tokens. Has a bit of weight to it. Has a bust of Perrins and Johnson on the front of each medal. On the back of Perrins is the saying "Strength and Magnanimity" around the edges, and in the middle portion is the quote "Bella! Horrida Bella!" This is a quote from Virgil's "Aeneid", which when translated means; "Wars! Horrid Wars!" The Johnson carries the phrase "Science And Intrepidity."
An amazing piece of early Boxing History.
SIZE - 1 1/3" inches in diameter each.
CONDITION - The Johnson (the rarer of the 2 tokens) is very clean, especially for a 210+ year-old piece. Exhibits some light toning and minor wear on the edges. Presents beautifully. The Perrins shows a bit more wear. Some toning could possibly be cleaned up a bit. A tiny dig in the back near the 2nd "Bella". Presents a bit nicer then scan shows.
Click scans to enlarge.
PRICE - SOLD