“On Easter Monday, Jem Mace, ex-Champion of the World, and one of the most brilliant boxers ever seen in the Ring, celebrated his 70th birthday, and due honour was done to the septuagenarian veteran on the occasion by his admiring brother-sportsmen in the Midlands.
It is generally supposed that prize-fighters are not a long-lived race, and no doubt many of them fail to make a long innings. But if one glances back at the illustrious roll of England's Champions it will be seen that they, at any rate, have generally enjoyed a pretty long lease of life. Of the twenty-four genuine Champions of England, from John Broughton downwards, only six have failed to reach the age of 50. Tom Johnson died at the age of 47, Ben Caunt at 46, Harry Broome at 39, Tom Sayers 38 (Heenan reached just the same number of years), the Game Chicken at 32, Jem Belcher at 30. In all these cases, however, death was hastened either by accident or by reckless dissipation.
On the other hand, John Broughton reached his 86th year, Jem Ward his 84th, John Gully his 81st, John Jackson his 77th, Dan Mendoza his 74th: Bendigo his 70th, Tom Cribb his 68th, the Tipton Slasher his 62nd, Tom Spring his 57th, and Tom King, I think, also passed away in his 57th year.
On the whole, then, the Champions can show a good record, and we hope that Jem Mace may live to top the list, and rob even old John Broughton of his pride of place.
We only remember two pugilists who preserved their skill and vigour to so advanced an age as Jem Mace; those two men were Jem Ward and Young Reid.
In his prime Mace was one of the finest-looking athletes, and the most finished boxer we ever saw in the Prize Ring.
Indeed, we think it is not too much to say that amongst the Champions of England, of whom he was the last, there was not one superior to him in science and Ring-craft. Long may the veteran flourish to show the rising generation of what stuff the old-time Heroes of the Ring were made!”
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