Yesterday morning, the fight for the championship between Smith and Knifton was arranged to come off, but the result, instead of a contest, was the capture of the men and their friends by the police. The two principals had agreed to fight for the championship and £400. They had twice made unsuccessful attempts to bring the match to an issue – once in France and once on Monday on the borders of Surrey and Sussex. After this second failure the affair was ostensibly given up as a draw. The friends of both men, however, were not satisfied, and some time after half-past 12 yesterday morning a meeting was decided upon, the arrangements being made as was believed, in a very secret and perfect manner. Smith’s supporters, to the number of about ten, journeyed down with the champion from Fenchurch-street Station to Shadwell. Here Kniftonand his friends also arrived. A covered van with the ropes and stakes was in waiting, and the men, with as little show as possible, passed through a house and got into the van in a little back street. They were just seated, and were driving off, when the police, who were evidently thoroughly appraised of the proceedings, and, as was afterwards found, had picketed the neighbourhood with groups of three constables, surrounded the van and took all its occupants into custody. The capture was made so suddenly and in such force that not one of the men inside was able to escape. Indeed, but for the fact that two or three other men could not find room in the van and were going to follow, the whole party connected with the affair would have been captured. Directly the police assumed command the driver of the van was ordered to go from Cable-street, where they were, to Shadwell police-station. This was immediately done, and the prisoners, 15 in number, were charged with an attempt to commit a breach of the peace.



At the Thames Police Court, before Mr. Saunders, John Knifton, described as a butcher, of Britannia-street, City-road ; James Smith, a deal porter, of Shaftesbury-street, Hoxton ; James Davies, sawyer, of Grove-road, Bow ; Robert Able, upholster, of De Beauvoir-road, Kingsland ; James Goode, fish porter, of Crawfield-street, Bethnal-green ; John Flemming, of the Black Horse public-house, Rathbone-place, Oxford-street ; Austin Marsden, gentleman, of Anne’s Valley, Hungerhill-road, Nottingham ; John Harper, licensed victualler, Market House, Chapel-street, Islington ; James Goode, jun., live stock dealer, of Settles Cottages, Sage-street, Shadwell ; Thomas Kent, carman, of Cliff-street, New North-road, Islington ; James Metcalf, carman, of Wear-street, Kingsland-road ; John Baldock, gentleman, of Lever-street, St. Luke’s ; Frank Grim, decorator, of Mitchell-street, St. Luke’s ; George Denning, journalist, Benedict-road, Brixton ; and John Hicks, of Stepney-green, were all charged with being concerned together in attempting to commit a breach of the peace by being accessories to a prize fight. – Mr. John E. Waters defended the Smith party – Chief-inspector John West, H Division, said that at six o’clock that morning, in consequence of having received certain information with respect to an intended prize fight, he and Inspector Death and other officers kept observation in Sage-street, Shadwel, until about 6.30. He saw a covered van. The prisoner Kent was driving. He signalled the other men, and they stopped the van. He said to Kent, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I don’t know.” Witness said, “I must know. I believe you have a number of men in that van who are about to engage in a prize fight. I shall have to take you all to Shadwell Police Station.” He replied, “Very well. I will drive there.” He then saw all the prisoners. They were conveyed to the station, and Smith and Knifton were told they would be charged with being the principals in an intended prize fight. They made no reply. The others were told they would be charged as accessories. On searching the van they found a bag containing ropes and stakes. There were 18 pegs, a pair of boots with spikes in them, a live pigeon, wadding, a towel, a sponge, ointment, a bottle containing sherry, and other articles, among which was a chest preserver (laughter). – Inspector James Death gave corroborative evidence. – Detective sergent W. Thicke said he knew Smith, Knifton, Hicke, and the two Goodes as being connected with fighting men. Smith said, “I did not know you came from the other side of the water, or I should have changed my name to-night – Champion of England.” – Smith : That was only a little friendly conversation (laughter). – Mr. Saunders remanded the prisoners on their own recognisances to appear on Tuesday week.

The News of the World, England
12 December 1886