Recently I was uploading our latest digitized portfolio from the William A. Rosenthall Judaica collection to the Lowcountry Digital Library and this print caught my eye.
The image features English boxing champion Daniel Mendoza’s (“Mendoza the Jew”) 1790 match with Richard Humphries. Its charming caption reads, “The Manner in Which Mendoza Caught Humphries Twice, and Generously laid him down without taking the advantage of his situation.” I wanted to learn more about this gentle boxer, so I poked around online and found his “generous” treatment is likely due to the fact that Humphries was Mendoza’s former mentor.
Not only was Mendoza reputed to have been the first Jew to talk to England’s King George III; he also revolutionized competitive boxing. Typical fighters of this period simply stood still and traded punches. However, Mendoza incorporated defensive strategies such as sidestepping and ducking, which were outlined in his book The Modern Art of Boxing.
Mendoza was England’s Heavyweight Champion from 1792-1795 and is the only middleweight (5’7”, 160 pounds) to ever win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. In 1981, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and in 1990, inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
More information on Mendoza can be found here.