A Good Man Gone.


It is with feelings of deep regret (says London SPORTING LIFE, of the 7th ult.) we announce the demise of Jack Knifton, the “81-tonner,” who succumbed, after a painful illness, at his residence, the London Assurance, City-road, E.C., at 1.40 yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon.


Of late the much-respected ex-pugilist has shown symptoms of ill-health, and six weeks since was advised to take to his bed, and in the meantime his sufferings have been distressing. The assiduous attentions of Dr. Simpson left some prospects of a possible recovery, but late on Tuesday evening last the patient underwent a relapse, and before the fatal moment arrived vomited a large quantity of blood. The immediate cause of death was exhaustion arising from liver troubles and Bright's disease. Many of his relatives witnessed the final struggle, as, besides his wife and children, his brother Joseph, two sisters from Newcastle and Norwich respectively, and Dr. Simpson were present.


During his lifetime the genial heavy-weight had played a number of parts, but in all he acquired the greatest respect, and he will be sadly missed by a large number, as he was a generous contributor and most willing worker to all benevolent objects. His loyalty to his less successful friends was unbounded, and his sterling qualities were acknowledged by all with whom he became acquainted.


The news of his death quickly spread, and a large number of sympathisers visited his residence to condole with the family in their sad bereavement.


The deceased was in his forty-first year, and of late had been devoted very much to parochial work, and was preparing himself for re-election in his district at the polling which is fixed for a short time hence.


Knifton was one of the first to unearth Jem Smith, and, in conjunction with Mr. F.Grimm and the veteran Goode, supported Smith in his early engagements, and latterly in the last-named's recent matches with Dick Burge and Dan Creedon, the 81-tonner, again acted as his principal backer.


The following biography of the deceased's career will no doubt prove of much interest to his large number of admirers:—


He was born at St. Cyrus; near Montrose, Scotland, on January 30, 1856, and early in life displayed a partiality for athletics. Enlisting in the 2nd Life Guards, he speedily made a name for himself by winning the running and jumping events of the Brigade of Guards at Bourley Bottom, Aldershot, which carried with it the championship of the army. Having left the service at the age of 20, he became a constant visitor at Ted Napper's, and it was here he gained his schooling. His ambition led him to enter Charley Franks' open competition, decided at the Sadlers Wells Theatre, and in turn defeated Jem Madden, Tom Tully, and Waltor Watson, and so qualified for the first prize.


He was then matched against Scrutton, whom he beat at Newman-street, Oxford-street. There was a disturbance over this, and the referee ordered the contestants to, meet on the following day, and Scrutton not appearing, the stakes were awarded to Knifton, who then issued a challenge to fight anybody in the old style. This met with no response for some time, but finally Massey accepted. The battle took place at Pulborough, and ended favourably for Jack after 39 rounds (41min). This was his first and last fight in the old style, and it may be of interest to know that Jem Smith and Coddy Middings, who were Knifton's seconds on that occasion, had never before seen a fight in the old style.


Woolf Bendoff was the next to be opposed in a glove contest, for endurance, over whom the 81-tonner was successful in 3 rounds. He then turned his attention to the business of a cow-keeper, in which he was very successful, and it was not until his engagement with Jem Smith for the championship he resumed his acquaintance with fistic matters. It will be remembered his terminated through all parties being arrested when travelling in a pantechnicon to the selected locale. A breach of faith had frustrated the efforts of those entrusted with the management from deciding the affair in France, and early in December, 1886, the stakes were mutually withdrawn.


Knifton's only other appearance was in a competition at the Agricultural Hall, when Toff Wall gained a decision over him, but for such events as this the heavy-weight was totally unfitted, and the chances at success greatly favoured so clever an opponent as Wall.


Many adventures can be recorded in the deceased's favour, one in particular was capturing, under very extreme difficulties, a bison buffalo which was eventually brought to the Zoological Gardens. In altitude the subject of these remarks stood 6ft 1 ½in, and when in condition weighed nearly 14st.

The Referee, New South Wales, Australia
17 June 1896