Based on an extraordinary true story, Tom Green’s new play, Tom Molineaux, charts the rise and fall of one of the greatest heroes of bare knuckle boxing
The Jack Studio Theatre, in Brockley, South London, presents the UK premiere of Tom Molineaux as part of a short tour.
Born a slave, Tom Molineaux boxed his way to freedom. In 1810 he arrived in London where his flamboyant style won him fame and the friendship of prizefight writer, Pierce Egan.
Molineaux battled against poverty and prejudice to win the right to face the great English champion Tom Cribb.
Huge crowds gathered to watch. Could the American overcome the odds to win? And what would it mean if a freed slave became the champion in a sport that had come to define the national character?
Within a year of coming to England in 1810 Tom Molineaux was one of the most famous people in the country and news of his fights gained more press coverage than reports from the Napoleonic Wars.
He had fought for his freedom from slavery in America and then beaten all-comers in New York before arriving in London, where interest in boxing was reaching new heights.
More than 20,000 people watched his two fights against the great English champion Tom Cribb. He died in Galway, where he is buried, in 1818 at the age of 34.
His battle against prejudice and poverty is an archetypal boxing story – the sport has always been a route to success and self-expression for the most marginalised people around the world, including migrants and refugees.
Tom Green’s project connects boxing clubs and theatres in areas of high migration – Blackburn & Darwen, Gravesend, Wandsworth and South East London.
Tom Molineaux is written by Offie-nominated playwright, Tom Green (Being Tommy Cooper), directed by Kate Bannister, and produced by the Brockley Jack, the team behind ★★★★★Hound of the Baskervilles, Mystery of Irma Vep and Shipwrecked.
2017 tour dates
May 17-18, Wandsworth Fringe, Putney
May 19, Library Theatre, Darwen, Lancs
May 23, Woodville Theatre, Gravesend
May 24-27 & May 31 – June 3, Jack Studio Theatre, London SE4
May 30 May,Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre, London