THE CAPTURE OF PRIZE FIGHTERS, — John Knifton, described as a butcher, of Britannia-street, City-road, and James Smith, a deal porter, of Shaftesbury-street, Hoxton, surrendered to their recognisances, charged with being the principals in an intended prize fight. The following other defendants, who were charged with being accessories to the fight, also surrendered : — James Howes, sawyer, of Grove-road, Bow ; Robert Abel, upholsterer, of De Beauvoir-road, Kings-land ; James Goode, fish porter, of Cranfield-street, Bethnal-green ; John Fleming, of the Black Horse public-house, Rathbone-place, Oxford-street ; Andrew Marsden, gentleman, of Ann’s-valley, Hungerhill-road, Nottingham ; John Harper, licensed victualler, Market-house, Chapel-street, Islington ; James Goode, live stock dealer, of Settle’s-cottages, Sage-street, Shadwell ; Thomas Kent, carman, of Cleft-street, New North-road, Islington ; James Metcalf, carman, of Ware-street, Kingsland-road ; John Baldock, gentleman, of Lever-street, St. Lukes ; George Dunning, journalist ; and John Hicks, of Stepney-green. — Mr. Mead prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury ; Mr. Walter, Jones appeared on behalf of the defendant Dunning ; and Mr. John E. Waters appeared for the other defendants ; and Chief Inspector West for the Commissioners of Police. — All the defendants were captured by the police while seated in a van in Sage-street, Shadwell, on the morning of the 11th. Great excitement prevailed in the neighbourhood of the Court, which was crowded. — The evidence given on the previous occasion was read over. — Chief Inspector West, in answer to Mr. Jones, said he had no warrant to arrest the prisoners. He found a box in the van containing resin for Knifton to put on his feet when he danced the Highland fling. Knifton said that was quite true. He always used it when he danced the Highland fling. — Sergeant Thicke, recalled, deposed that it was Knifton who said, “I did not know but you were the other side of the water. It would have been a good job if they had kept you there. I should have had a different name to-night.” — By Mr. Waters : He knew Smith and Knifton as quiet, peaceable men, and teachers of boxing. — Detective-sergeant Smith deposed he was present in Sage-street when the van was stopped. He corroborated Sergeant Thicke’s evidence. At the station the elder Goode said, “We were not going to fight. The fight was given up three or four days ago. The articles will prove that.” Knifton said, “Shut up.” Goode then said, “You know you were going to fight, but we’ve given it up now.” — Goode : Do you believe these men ever intended to fight? — Mr. Mead objected to the question, which was overruled. — Inspector James, stationed at Caterham, said on the morning of the 6th inst. he saw some of the defendants. — Mr. Waters objected to that evidence. — Mr. Mead said he intended to ask the magistrate to commit all the defendants for an assault on both Smith and Knifton. Witness, continuing, said he saw Knifton, Marsden, Good, sen., and about eight others. Knifton and Goode were in a brougham, with two other men. Marsden was in another brougham with three other men, who got out when they were near Streatham. Witness rode after them. Marsden and another man went to Dorman’s Land, near East Grinstead, and the others turned back. Knifton spoke to witness and said “We are not going to trouble you to-day. You might as well have left us alone for an hour or two.” Goode said, “We were going much further afield – not half-way there yet.” That party turned back towards London. — By Mr. Jones : He had not mentioned the names of all he saw that day as he did not know them. He saw some of them in Court that day, and they were not the defendants in this case. He also saw four other persons in a phaeton, whom he had not mentioned. He saw one of the four in Court. — By Goode : He did not see anything to indicate either a running match or a flight. — Inspector A. Wilson, W. Division, stationed at Croydon, said he was riding with the last witness on the day in question. He followed a brougham to Kenley. He afterwards saw it in front of the Rose and Crown. The driver and the defendant Hicks were standing outside the public-house. Later on he saw Knifton in the bougham and spoke to him. Witness advised Knifton that he had heard what he was up to and he had better return to town quietly. He consulted a few others and then returned. Witness followed the party to the Borough, where they dispersed. — Inspector Holloway, W Division, stationed at Sutton, said on the 14th October, 1884, he was present at the Surrey Sessions when Knifton was fined 40s. Knifton was acting as second at a prize fight at Carshalton. Witness saw the ring there on the 2nd October, 1884. He went to a wood at Carshalton and saw a number of men. They all ran away with the exception of Knifton and the man who was present. He saw Knifton dressing the man who had been engaged in the fight. Knifton was taken into custody and charged with that offence. — By Mr. Waters : He knew Knifton as a dairyman, but did not know he was the churchwarden of his parish. The police in that district gave him a good character. — Constable Frampton, 394 N, stated he was at Cheshunt on the 1st Jan., 1885. He saw the elder Goode there. On that occasion Goode was in a regular ring in which two men were fighting. He was acting as second. He picked his own son, who was one of the combatants, up. — Constable Cord, 74 J, said in 1872 or 1873 he was at Long Reach. He saw a prize fight take place between two men. Hicks was in the ring, acting as second or referee. — Mr. Mead said he would now ask the magistrate to commit all the defendants for trial. All those engaged in a prize fight it had been held had been guilty of an assault on one or other of the combatants. They were also guilty of committing a breach of the peace. He quoted the case of “The Queen v. Coney,” in which it was held that all persons present were guilty of an assault, although they did not aid or abet. — Mr. Saunders : But there the prize fight actually took place. — Mr. Mead : What was found in the van clearly shows what was going to take place. — Mr. Saunders : But there is such a thing as breaking a fly on a wheel. — Mr. Mead submitted that this was a case which should be inquired into by a jury. — Mr. Jones submitted there was no case against his client, Dunning, who was a journalist, and he was simply present in the discharge of his profession. — Mr. Waters considered that the police had acted in a very high-handed manner in regard to this affair. When the police heard of a prize fight it was their duty to obtain a warrant for the apprehension of the offenders. He submitted that they had no ground whatever for taking the men into custody. Knifton like many other men, was devoted to the noble art of self-defence, and before the defendants could be committed the magistrate must have distinct evidence that a prize fight was going to take place. There was no evidence to show that Knifton and Smith were prepared for a prize fight. — Goode said neither he nor his companions ever intended to commit a breach of the peace. The principals had only made the match for the purpose of an advertisement. He knew the affairs of Smith and Knfton well, and knew they never intended to fight. — Mr. Saunders said this case has assumed importance owing to the great number of persons inculpated in it. He had no doubt as far as outward appearances were concerned a prize fight was going to happened. The police had acted very properly in doing what they had done, for it was not their duty to have waited until the affair had happened. He had come to the conclusion that a prize fight was intended. He himself did not look with such horror on the prize ring as some people did. It had, in his opinion, in former days done a great deal of good among the lower orders. In the prize ring proper rules were laid down, and these were conducted in a proper manner. These rules contrasted very favourably to the revolver, knife, and stiletto encounters which were in vogue in some portions of the Continent. Prize fighting in its honest sense had been of immense benefit to this country. While he said that, he must also say that the requirements of the prize ring had now passed away. He did not think this case should go any further, and with the exception of Kent and Metcalf, the carmen, who would be discharged, all the defendants would be bound over to keep the peace in one surety of £10 each. — The necessary sureties being forthcoming the defendants left the Court.

The News of the World, England
26 December 1886