A Prize Fighter Reformed

Here’s another piece from ‘Old Oak’. I am intrigued by the man’s name, as Bendigo is a former goldmining town in Victoria Australia. I wonder if there is a link. Oxford dictionary makes no mention of him.

“I was asked to bury another famous champion – Bendigo. He had been the hero of a hundred fights, the most celebrated being that with the giant Ben Caunt – the time Bendie’s Nottingham supporters cut the ropes to save him from defeat – but I had never been much interested in him on account of his tricky methods. However, at the height of his career his heart was changed, and he left the ring to become a preacher of the Gospel and so continued to his life’s end.

When I was a curate in the Black Country a story used to be told of how he dealt with a gang of local prize-fighters who went purposely to break up his meeting when he was preaching in a little chapel near the Bull Ring in Birmingham soon after his conversion. They took possession of a front pew and, when eh began his sermon, taunted him with cowardice, declaring that he had only given up fighting because he had lost his pluck. He stood it for a time and then closed his Bible. “Dear Lord,” he cried,”Thou knows I have given my life to Thee, but with Thy permission I’ll take 5 minutes for myself!” He then leapt nimbly down from the pulpit and fell upon the sons of Belial with such righteous fury that the place was soon like a knackers yard, and those of them who were able to do so were begging for mercy.

There were no further disturbances from the front pew when he resumed his discourse. Dr Conan Doyle, I hear, has written a poem on the incident…

Bendie was very distressed about his “Lapse” when his rage had passed.

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