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Monday, August 1, 2011

A Look Back: Dutch Sam

In an effort to link the past with the present, The Jewish Boxing Blog will present monthly a short biography of notable former Jewish boxers.

Dutch Sam was a prominent lightweight in the bare-knuckle days of the early nineteenth century who had no fear in facing men taller and heavier than he. He possessed a rare combination of guile and power and- perhaps- invented the uppercut, thus changing the sport of boxing forever.

Sam Elias was born on April 4, 1775 in London, England. He grew up in the Jewish neighborhood of Whitechapel. His parents were immigrants from Holland. He learned to box at former heavyweight champion Daniel Mendoza's academy. Sam's first recorded boxing match took place in 1801.

Standing 5'6" and weighing 130 pounds, Dutch Sam had no trouble defeating larger men. In 1803, he beat a man who weighed nearly 200 lbs. On August 7, 1804, Sam utilized the uppercut in dismantling the celebrated Caleb Baldwin.

Along with the moniker Dutch Sam, the tough fighter was also known as the Terrible Jew, a politically incorrect nod to his ferocity. Sam proudly trained on three glasses of gin a day, and was known to enter the ring drunk, a habit that would eventually catch up to him.

Dutch Sam fought Tom Belcher, the brother of former heavyweight champion Jem, three times. The first one, held in 1806, ended in a 57th round KO win for Sam. The second match, which took place the following year, ended in a draw and the third was a 36th round stoppage win for Sam. Mendoza was the second in Sam's corner for all three bouts.

Pierce Egan wrote, "Terrific is the only word that adequately describes his manner of fighting." After defeating Ben Medley in 1810 in round number 49, Dutch Sam retired remarkably undefeated in over a hundred contests.

Four years later, Sam decided to make a comeback. Throughout his layoff, he continued "training," or at least the part of training that involved ingesting copious amounts of alcohol. He returned after hearing anti-Semitic remarks made by William Nosworthy, who, in addition to being a boxer, was also a baker. Sam was a shell of his former self and Nosworthy KOed him in the fiftieth round.

After a life of hard fighting and drinking, Dutch Sam died on July 3, 1816 in London. He was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Whitechapel.

Blady, Ken. The Jewish Boxers Hall of Fame. 1988.
Century, Douglas. Barney Ross. 2006.

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