Considered the best middleweight of his day, Nat Langham compiled a fine record which included a victory over Hall of Famer Tom Sayers. Born in Hinckley, England, Langham worked as a farm laborer before moving to London to work briefly as a delivery man. Langham’s earliest recorded bouts took place in Hinckley, but he honed his skills in London where he came under the direction of former heavyweight champion Ben Caunt. Using sharp, well-timed blows—especially with his left, which Tom Sayers called the “Pickaxe”—Langham carved out several impressive victories. A win over William Ellis in 1843 gave Langham the middleweight title.
In 1851, Langham suffered the only defeat of his career, at the hands of Harry Orme. The battle raged for 117 rounds. Langham cut Orme’s mouth and nose in the first round. Langham’s shots raised a mouse under each eye but an Orme hip-toss dazed Langham in the eleventh. The fighting continued for two hours and forty-six minutes. Finally, Langham gave up the struggle after Orme threw him again, and Orme had the victory.
When Langham faced the highly respected George Guttridge, the two fought for an hour and twenty-five minutes. In the first ten rounds, Langham had the advantage. For the next 40, Guttridge appeared to improve. From the 51st until the 93rd, Langham took control until Guttridge finally conceded.
Langham also fought the up-and-coming Tom Sayers. In the 61st round, Langham closed both of Sayers’s eyes and knocked him to the ground, ending the fight. After this grueling fight, Sayers attempted to secure a rematch but none was forthcoming. Langham then retired to open the Cambrian Stores, a tavern. He also owned a boxing booth and founded the Rum-rum-Pas Club for aristocratic ring patrons. He remained active in boxing and as a tavern owner for many years. He did come out of retirement once, in part to settle a family dispute with his former mentor, Caunt, who was also his wife’s uncle. The two fought to a 60-round draw in 1857.
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Excerpted with permission from 'The Boxing Register' by James B. Roberts and Alexander G. Skutt, copyright © 1999 by McBooks Press. All rights reserved.
Born: May 1820
Died: Sept. 1, 1871