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John 'Gentleman' Jackson (1769-1845)

The prize fighter who became a bodyguard at King George IV's coronation.

Jackson was a renowned bare-knuckle fighter and self-defence teacher.

John Gentleman Jackson fights Futrell Jackson fought Thomas Futrell in 1788 in front of a huge crowd that included the Prince of Wales (later King George IV). (Credit: Jantoo)

He was crowned ‘Champion of England’ after a short, brutal encounter with Daniel Mendoza in 1795, which was only his third fight! Jackson then decided to retire from the ring, and set up a boxing academy on London’s Bond Street. His most famous pupil was the poet Lord Byron. Later Jackson became the proprietor of a coaching inn between London and Brighton, and held benefits to raise money for charity.

Daniel Mendoza pugilist Daniel Mendoza, whom Jackson beat to become Champion of England. Mendoza had had a very successful boxing career until losing to Jackson, who was younger and heavier. (Credit: Wikipedia)

‘Gentleman’ Jackson may have had a formidable reputation, but he was hugely popular and well-respected. His striking memorial, topped by a brooding lion, was paid for by friends and admirers.

Lion statue (Credit: Greywolf)

Jackson taught members of the aristocracy at his boxing academy, giving him friends in high places.

Lord Byron Lord Byron noted in his diary in 1814 that ‘Today I have been very sulky, but an hour’s exercise with Mr. Jackson of pugilistic memory has given me spirits’. (Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London)

He was chosen to be a guard during the coronation of George IV in 1821. Jackson gathered together a group of fellow fighters for the task, whose fearsome looks kept the crowds in order.

Coronation of George IV The coronation of George IV. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Further information

Jackson’s monument

(Credit: Greywolf)

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